OAKLAND — Dennis Eckersley's long attachment to the A's obviously skews his view of Game 5 of the American League Division Series.

Eckersley, at the Coliseum Thursday as part of the TBS broadcasting crew, likes the A's, and in particular he likes starting pitcher Sonny Gray, who he believes is at the beginning of a terrific career.

But in the buildup to seeing Oakland's 23-year-old rookie face Justin Verlander of the Tigers for the second time in the series, Eckersley said it's difficult not to look at the matchups and not come up with the conclusion that the A's are underdogs.

``Verlander, he's something else,'' Eckersley said. ``He wants the ball and he wants if for nine innings.''

As for Gray, Eckersley raved about the rookie's curve, his fastball and his poise. But he wonders if the Tigers, having seen him for eight innings last Saturday when Gray didn't allow a run and surrendered just four hits, might have a better measure of him now.

``Last time, they hadn't seen him,'' Eckersley said. ``Now they have. That makes a difference.''