It’s win, or go home for the Tigers in the American League Division Series. Following a Game 3 loss to Oakland by a score of 6-3, the Detroit Tigers are one loss away from ending their season. The A’s will take their 2-1 series advantage into Game 4 in Detroit tonight and first pitch is scheduled for 5:07 p.m. and will be broadcast on TBS.
Pitching has been the story of the ALDS so far, and Game 4 will be no different.
Game 4 of the ALDS will feature the pitching match-up of Detroit’s Doug Fister and Oakland’s Dan Straily. Both pitchers have struggled against the opposing teams in the past. On August 27, Fister allowed a season high 13 hits and 7 runs against the A’s, a series in which Oakland dominated. Athletics hitters hit a collective .328 off the Detroit starter. Straily was the opposing pitcher against Fister on August 27, a game that Straily won. However, Tigers hitters hit .387 off of him.
Torii Hunter could play a big role in the contest tonight as his career numbers against Straily are sensational. Hunter is 7-for-10 with three home runs against Straily. The Tigers’ right fielder will be playing through a bit of a beat up shoulder after diving for a ball in the first inning of Game 3.
In Game 3, Oakland found its power stroke as they knocked Anibal Sanchez around for 6 runs and hit three homers. Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss and Seth Smith all went deep to lead the A’s offensive attack in the win. The Tigers will need a better pitching performance tonight if they want to continue its season.
Moss is a player who has killed the Tigers this year in Detroit. Moss has now hit five home runs and driven in 11 runs in just five games at Comerica Park this season.
Oakland got a spark out of their leadoff man, Coco Crisp in Game 3 as he finished with three hits, including two doubles. The Tigers would like some production out of their top spot in the order in Austin Jackson. Jackson has struggled through three games in the series, going just 1-for-11 with seven strikeouts in the series.
Miguel Cabrera has also been limited in the playoffs thus far after limping into the postseason, battling multiple injuries. The AL MVP front-runner is 3-for-12 in the series. Prince Fielder showed some signs of life in Game 3, finishing with a pair of knocks and also lined out hard in his last at-bat.
The Tigers need more offensive production out of these guys, and everyone else for that matter. Through three games, they’ve scored just 6 runs after finishing second in scoring on the season, behind only the Boston Red Sox.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland opted to start Jhonny Peralta in left field to give the offense a much-needed punch. Peralta has been back for just six games after serving a 50-game suspension for using illegal substances and has played just three games in left field in his career. Peralta caught every ball hit his way, but a weak throw home allowed Stephen Vogt to tag and score on a shallow fly ball. However, in the next inning, Peralta singled to score two and tie the game at 3 in the fourth inning. I expect to see Peralta out in left field again in Game 4 and Game 5, if necessary.
The eccentric Oakland closer Grant Balfour might have given the Tigers the spark they needed to rebound in this series. In the bottom of the ninth, up by three runs, Balfour stared in at Victor Martinez after a foul ball. MLB Network dropped the ball as multiple f-bombs were heard very clearly as Balfour and Martinez exchanged words and the benches cleared.
“I just fouled a pitch off,” Martinez said. “I was looking at him. He told me, ‘What am I looking at?’ And I’m like, (forget) that. Not even the greatest closer, that’s Mariano (Rivera), tells you stuff like that. I’m not a rookie that he’s going to come in and say little (junk) like that.”
The Tigers should have enough motivation to win this game simply because it’s an elimination game, but this squabble at the end of Game 3 might just light a fire under a team that desperately needs it.
The Tigers’ season rests on the steady shoulders of Doug Fister tonight in Game 4. After three games of limited offensive production, I expect Detroit to break out against Straily to force a winner-take-all Game 5 back in Oakland. Fister will pitch well enough to keep Detroit in the game and the Tigers will get a big late-inning blast from the likes of Hunter or Martinez. I pick the Tigers to win the game 8-5 to extend their season for at least another game.
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