“Resilient” has been a big buzz word surrounding the A’s this season, for good reason. They’ve been remarkably tough at bouncing back from stinging defeats. Now they face the toughest of challenges. Down 2-0 in this best-of-five A.L. Divisional Series, they need to sweep three games in Oakland to keep their postseason going. That’s the big picture. Of more immediate concern is rebounding from Sunday’s draining 5-4 defeat in Game 2, which for a while had all the marks of a typical A’s 2012 victory. They got a big hit from a somewhat unexpected source in No. 9 hitter Cliff Pennington. They got a go-ahead home run from Josh Reddick in the eighth. And then they had Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour lined up in the bullpen to salt away the win.
This one didn’t go according to script, and now we’ll see if the A’s can pull their biggest rabbit out of the hat yet: Win three straight against the Tigers and move on to the A.L. Championship Series.
“We’re not going to go out there and hang our heads like a team that’s defeated,” A’s right fielder Josh Reddick said. “We’ve come from behind all year, and we just want to keep grinding and grinding. We’ve got a good guy in (starter Brett) Anderson going (Tuesday). We’ve just gotta give him a little bit of run support and good things will go our way.”
Anderson, coming back from a strained oblique, declared himself ready for Tuesday, but manager Bob Melvin said an announcement will come Monday. Assuming Anderson is 100 percent, he should be able to give the A’s a shot at a ‘W’. But they need to generate more offense, and earlier in the game. They’ve struck out 23 times in the first two games of this series, and at some point, the demonstrative bitterness they’re showing over the strike zone needs to stop. Surely it’s not scoring any points with the umpiring crew, and the strike three calls that Reddick and Stephen Drew were made about today, at least to me, looked close enough where they should have been swinging. The bad calls are going both ways to an extent. Detroit’s Alex Avila had a legitimate gripe about a called third strike in the eighth.
At any rate, the A’s have surprised us all year and it would be foolish to say it’s impossible they can win three in a row. But Justin Verlander lurks at some point, whether it’s in Game 4 on short rest or a deciding Game 5. Suffice it to say, the A’s have their work cut out in front of the home crowd …