The Associated Press
Brandon Inge was part of two division champions this year, starting the season with Detroit and then catching on with Oakland after he was released by the Tigers.
Now those teams are playing each other in the division series — although Inge is out for the season because of right shoulder injury. He was in the visiting clubhouse at Comerica Park on Friday, the day before Game 1.
“It’s going to be a fun series, especially for me, just watching both sides,” Inge said. “This is like a front-row seat to an unbelievable playoff game.”
Inge is one of four players to play for two division winners this year, according to STATS LLC. The others were Travis Blackley (San Francisco and Oakland), Xavier Nady (Washington and San Francisco) and Kurt Suzuki (Oakland and Washington).
Inge was beginning his 12th season with the Tigers when he was released following a 2-for-20 start. He hit .226 with 11 home runs in 74 games for Oakland. He admitted to some odd emotions returning to Detroit.
“Coming here, back to guys that I still consider family, it’s going to be a little strange,” Inge said.
The Tigers won the AL Central, while the A’s took the AL West by beating Texas on the final day of the regular season.
“It’s fun to do it, no matter where you are,” Inge said. “It was an honor to be able to do it here as many times as we had, and it was just as much fun doing it there. Those fans are crazy there, too. They were appreciative — I didn’t hear one boo the entire year there, nothing. Those fans are incredible there, too.”
San Francisco’s lineup will look awfully familiar for Game 1 of the division series Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds.
Manager Bruce Bochy didn’t stray from what worked so well down the stretch. Backing ace starter Matt Cain will be center fielder Angel Pagan, second baseman Marco Scutaro, third baseman Pablo Sandoval, right fielder Hunter Pence, first baseman Brandon Belt, left fielder Gregor Blanco and shortstop Brandon Crawford.
Bochy chose Blanco over Nady, who Bochy is happy to have as a bat off the bench or a late-innings defensive replacement.Blanco found out from his manager during batting practice.
“This is the best thing that’s happened to me. It’s going to be great,” Blanco said. “I’m going to enjoy it for sure and do the best I can to help the team win the first game. It’s going to be a huge game for us tomorrow and I know we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
The Giants are carrying 12 pitchers and 13 position players. Ryan Theriot and 2010 playoff star Aubrey Huff made the team over potential speedy pinch-runners Emmanuel Burriss or Justin Christian.
Mike Matheny is the Cardinals first rookie manager to reach the postseason since Eddie Dyer in 1946. The Cardinals won the World Series that year.
Tony La Russa was the last St. Louis manager to lead the team to the playoffs in his first season with the team.
Gonzalez, completing his sixth season as a major league manager, including four seasons with Florida, also is in his first postseason as a manager.