As quickly as the Oakland A’s rose to prominence this season, they may fall even faster at the hand of the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers snuck two games away from the A’s at Comerica Park this weekend and now rest comfortably in the catbird’s seat.
With one more win the Tigers will get a few days rest before the scheduled start of the ALCS this coming Saturday. Anibal Sanchez (9-13, 3.86 ERA, 167 K’s) will oppose Brett Anderson (4-2, 2.57 ERA) in Game 3. First pitch is set for 9:07 eastern in front of what will be a rare sellout crowd in Oakland. And now, a team who won 33 of 46 games heading into the playoffs to rip the AL West crown away from the Texas Rangers will pin their hopes on a pitcher who has made but 6 starts all season long.
Strange things have been afoot in this series already. Here is a quick rundown:
- Anderson has made 6 starts this year. His last start came on September 19th, against these same Tigers. He lasted just 2.1 innings of poor pitching before giving way to the dreaded oblique injury.
- In 120 games this season, Coco Crisp made just 3 errors. His 7th inning blunder on a Miguel Cabrera blooper might very well end up being the series death blow for the A’s when it’s all said and done.
- If the Tigers win Game 3, that will mean that an apparently fully healthy Max Scherzer, who was 16-7 with a 3.74 ERA and had the 2nd most K’s in the big leagues with 231, didn’t pitch a single inning of the ALDS.
- In the 8th inning, the Tigers and A’s became a part of history as each team tied the score on a wild pitch. That had never happened before in the history of playoff baseball.
- Don Kelly had a mere 7 RBI’s in 113 regular season at-bats. Officially, he has zero at bats this postseason but 1 RBI.
- Oakland’s bullpen hadn’t allowed a run in 26 consecutive innings prior to the 7th inning on Sunday. They allowed 4 (2 earned) in just 2.2 innings of work in Game 2.
It just seems like crazy things happen in the playoffs that you never see during the regular season. Maybe that’s because we’re all watching more closely or the pressure truly does get to some of these players, as it seemed to with Joaquin Benoit and a few of Oakland’s relievers.
Game 3 should see first pitch temperatures in the mid-60’s, which will hopefully help perk up some sagging Tigers bats. They really had to scratch and claw to get those 5 runs on Sunday.
Both Sanchez and Anderson don’t have recent success to call upon against their Tuesday night opponent. Sanchez pitched 5.2 innings back on September 20th against the A’s. He coughed up 6 runs (5 earned) on 6 hits and 2 walks, but did strike out 8.
As mentioned above, Anderson left after 2.1 innings back on September 19th with an oblique and hasn’t pitched since. He surrendered 3 hits, 3 walks, and 3 earned runs before he left the mound. Those surface numbers don’t tell the story on Anderson though. He is probably Oakland’s best pitcher. He is a lefty that sits in the mid 90’s with his fastball and has a dynamic curveball.
In response to the A’s stud lefty, expect the same starting lineup from the Tigers that you saw in Game 2.
- Jackson – CF
- Infante – 2B
- Cabrera – 3B
- Fielder – 1B
- Young – DH
- Peralta – SS
- Dirks – LF
- Garcia – RF
- Laird – C
Oakland will roll out something like this against Sanchez:
- Crisp – CF
- Drew – SS
- Cespedes – LF
- Moss – 1B
- Reddick – RF
- Donaldson – 3B
- Smith – DH
- Kottaras – C
- Pennington – 2B
A week ago Oakland was able to welcome in the division leading Rangers and summarily dispatch them in a 3-game sweep, ultimately sending them to their wild card doom. Bob Melvin’s team has very recent history on their side in terms of sweeping a big series at home, and that’s essentially what they need to do now.
The A’s were 50-31 at home in 2012. The Tigers were just 38-43 away from Comerica Park but they did win 8 of their last 12 road games to close the regular season on a high note. If the A’s can stretch the series to a Game 4 it is scheduled for a 9:37 eastern time first pitch on Wednesday night.
Tune in on Tuesday for what promises to be another thriller, loaded up with some series-defining moments, desperation on the part of the A’s, and perhaps the rarely seen killer instinct from the Tigers.