After winning each of their first two postseason games, the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers have an opportunity today to sweep their opponents in the divisional series; the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s respectively. The Giants and A’s both enjoyed late-season runs that launched them into the postseason, but now face do-or-die games that require someone to literally step up to the plate. Here are the matchups for today’s games and my picks for game three.
San Francisco Giants at Cincinnati Reds
The Giants are definitely on the ropes, facing elimination and on the road for the remainder of the series. With everything they’ve worked for all season at stake, their decision to start Ryan Vogelsong in game three is an interesting one to say the least. Two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum endured a rough season and was not included in the postseason rotation. San Fran’s other Cy Young winner, Barry Zito was also available to make a start in game three, but was passed on in favor of Vogelsong.
The Reds cruised through games one and two on the backs of strong pitching performances. After ace Johnny Cueto left in the first inning of game one with a back injury, a bevy of relievers stepped in, including Sam LeCure and Matt Latos to hold the Giants to two runs in a 5-2 Reds win. Then in game two, Bronson Arroyo delivered a shining gem of a start, shutting out San Fran in a 9-0 Reds victory. For game three, Cincinnati is going with young Texan, Homer Bailey, who hurled the 15th no-hitter in Reds’ team history less than two weeks ago.
This game features two strong starters who seem fairly evenly matched and although the Giants have showed plenty of resilience and an ability to overcome adversity, Cincinnati has to get the edge here at home and with plenty of momentum. And let’s not forget, this was the first team to clinch a playoff berth and finished with the second best overall regular season record behind Washington. Take the Reds to close out the Giants tonight and advance to the NLCS.
Detroit Tigers at Oakland A’s
Unlike the Reds, who have looked dominating in their series with San Fran, the Tigers have squeaked out wins in games one and two against Oakland, but are in the same position; one win away from advancing. Trailing 4-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning of game two, Detroit began a rally and eventually stole the game away from Oakland with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth to win it 5-4.
Game three will see Anibal Sanchez get the ball for Detroit against Brett Anderson of Oakland. Sanchez went 9-13 during the regular season and 4-6 with the Tigers. He was acquired mid-season in a trade with Miami and although struggled a bit in his first couple of starts in the AL, showed real improvement down the stretch. Anderson went 4-2 in just six starts after returning from injury and will make his first-ever postseason start today.
I’m going with Oakland today to win game three and prolong this divisional series. The home-field advantage should help Oakland, but the A’s also should have an edge in the pitching matchup today with Anderson, who was a big reason why the A’s snagged the AL West away from Texas at the end of the season and in a series that has been fairly low-scoring up until this point, pitching will be a big deal. Look for Oakland to extend this series to game four.