The Oakland A’s are a team used to having the odds stacked against them. This was the case again Tuesday night as the A’s faced elimination from the 2012 postseason down 0-2 in the ALDS against Detroit. But the A’s rose to the occasion just as they did to steal the AL West from the Texas Rangers on the last day of the regular season. Pitching and defense won the day and allowed them to extend their season for at least one more, game four today in Oakland.
Oakland didn’t need much offense, winning 2-0 behind a stellar performance from first-time postseason starter Brett Anderson, who blanked the Tigers through six innings and struck out six, while only allowing two hits and two walks. Anderson missed 14 months after undergoing surgery on his elbow, but was strong in six regular season starts for Oakland, going 4-2 with an ERA under 3.00.
Anderson also got plenty of help from his defense, which robbed Tigers hitters of several big hits and scoring opportunities. Oakland outfielder Coco Crisp made one of the plays of the night in the second inning, robbing a Prince Fielder of a homerun with an incredible leaping catch over the centerfield fence.
Oakland will now hope to get on the kind of roll that won them the AL West. This year’s A’s team became the first club to win a division after trailing by five or more games with fewer than 10 left in the season. Their six consecutive home wins to close out the regular season has to be promising, since they will play the last two in this series at home.
Oakland will throw out another inexperienced pitcher to keep their season alive in game four, as rookie A.J. Griffin will get the ball. Griffin, who went 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA during the regular season, was another major reason that Oakland is even in this position, winning several crucial games down the stretch.
Detroit has relied on Max Scherzer all season and the Tigers will rely on him again to hopefully end the series today as the game four starter. Scherzer went 16-7 with a 3.74 ERA during the regular year.
The good news is Oakland has some momentum now and as we’ve seen this season, it is a team that thrives on it. The bad news is even if the A’s earn a fifth and decisive game in this series; they will be up against former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.
I do like Oakland in game four for the same reason I thought they would win today. The pitching matchup should create a low-scoring affair, which will benefit the scrappy, feisty home team. Look for Oakland to push the series to five, but don’t expect any miracle comeback to advance to the ALCS. With Verlander on the hill, the Tigers are almost unbeatable, but then again, the A’s are a team that wants you to doubt them. Be sure to check out the game today on TNT at 9:37 Eastern Time.