Join Jon Becker at 6:30 p.m. today for an Game 4 ALDS chat as the A’s try to extend the Tigers to a fifth game.
It was interesting to hear Tigers manager Jim Leyland address the media after the A’s 2-0 victory in Game 3 of the A.L Divisional Series. He heaped lots of credit on the A’s, including Brett Anderson, the bullpen and Coco Crisp’s home run-saving catch on Prince Fielder’s drive in the second.
“Their bullpen is really nasty,” Leyland said. “Cook, Doolittle, Balfour – they’re really good. And their starter tonight gave them what they needed. It set up perfect for them tonight. They took advantage of that and they earned it.”
I’m sure the loss got to Leyland under the surface, but his demeanor made it seem like he almost knew the A’s were destined to grab one of these games in Oakland. Like all factors converged to equate to an A’s victory. That’s the attitude of a manager who has a ton of experience and knows the ebb and flow of a playoff series. It’s also the attitude of a manager who knows his team still has two shots to close this series out.
Looking ahead, I think Wednesday’s pitching matchup tilts in Detroit’s favor. A’s starter A.J. Griffin was 7-1 in the regular season but he experienced some turbulence over his last month or so. You never know how a rookie will react in his first playoff start, and he struggled last time he faced Detroit. Tigers starter Max Scherzer went 16-7 in the regular season but he was hindered by a shoulder problem late in the season. If the A’s pull it out in Game 4, you gotta think the Tigers will feel the pressure in Game 5, even with ace Justin Verlander pitching that game.
Maybe the most important thing the A’s did Tuesday night was establish that their home field really can be an advantage. The crowd was big and amped up, and the A’s reciprocated with a strong showing. As a result, they lived to see another day and we do it all again Wednesday.
Stay tuned …
Here’s tonight’s lineups, with a lengthier update to come shortly. The Coliseum parking lot has already been filling for quite some time, and it’s great weather right now as the A’s begin batting practice. Sunny, though a bit breezy …
A’s — Crisp CF, Drew SS, Cespedes LF, Moss 1B, Reddick RF, Donaldson 3B, Smith DH, Norris C, Pennington 2B; Anderson LHP.
Tigers — Jackson CF, Infante 2B, Cabrera 3B, Fielder 1B, Young DH, Peralta SS, Dirks LF, Garcia RF, Laird C; Sanchez RHP.
Bob Melvin stuck mostly with the lineup from Games 1 and 2, as he said he would likely do. He has confidence in this group breaking through.
–The big question tonight, of course, is how effective Brett Anderson will be in his first start since Sept. 19. Melvin says he doesn’t see too much in the way of a pitch-count limitation on the lefty. I think if Anderson can avoid a rough start that forces Melvin to yank him early, he will find a groove and keep it a close game. But another issue to consider is how well Anderson will field his position coming off his oblique injury. Will the Tigers test him by dropping a few bunts? Typically, they’re not a big bunting team. That’s one aspect to watch however …
–Down 2-0 in this best-of-five series, Melvin said the A’s just need to focus on tonight.
“If you look at it like we have to win all three of these games, it’s probably not the right way to look at it,” Melvin said. “You deal with tomorrow, tomorrow. It’s much less daunting to think about that than to think we have to win three games and we have (Justin) Verlander in the last game.”
Lifelong A’s fan Brett Bower has been the batboy for visiting teams at the Coliseum for the past six years. At 22 years old, Brett is leaving his job as batboy after this season to pursue his other dream of becoming a high school teacher.
Thanks to some improbable A’s victories, he’ll have memories from this season to last a lifetime.
Like the time he got caught celebrating the A’s division-clinching victory while wearing his Texas Rangers uniform!
“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 …
For those who thought NFL games start early on Sunday morning, the A’s are taking it to another level with today’s 9 a.m. (PT) start against Detroit in Game 2 of the A.L. Divisional Series. Yes, it is a raw deal for a team that technically has “home-field advantage” in this series. The A’s are still probably on West Coast time, so it will feel like they’re taking the field at 9 a.m. even though it’s a noon start. But as A’s manager Bob Melvin pointed out last night, this isn’t the first time the A’s have traveled east and faced this. They’ve also faced bad umpiring before, and they were victim to some of that last night with Jim Reynolds’ strike zone. But none of that matters right now. They need to get their bats going and gain a split here before heading back to Oakland for Game 3 on Tuesday. Rookie starter Tommy Milone has a lot on his shoulders today, but the A’s also need to do some damage against Tigers starter Doug Fister. They’ll attempt to with virtually the same lineup as Saturday’s, aside from George Kottaras starting behind the plate instead of Derek Norris.
A’s — Crisp CF, Drew SS, Cespedes LF, Moss 1B, Reddick RF, Donaldson 3B, Smith DH, Kottaras C, Pennington 2B; Milone LHP.
Tigers — Jackson CF, Infante 2B, Cabrera 3B, Fielder 1B, Young DH, Peralta SS, Dirks LF, Garcia RF, Laird C; Fister RHP.
–Melvin did not officially announce Brett Anderson as the Game 3 starter, but he left no secret that that’s the likely plan. The A’s will make an announcement Monday, and they simply want to make sure Anderson continues to progress from his strained oblique. Melvin said today’s outcome isn’t a main factor in the decision. He wants Anderson out there “win, lose or draw … sooner rather than later.”
–Jonny Gomes was the A’s player who addressed the media in the pregame press conference, funny in that Gomes didn’t play Saturday and isn’t in today’s lineup either. With Detroit starting four right-handers in this series, Gomes knew he might not play much. Melvin hasn’t shut the door on giving Gomes a start, and he said he’ll likely turn to Gomes before Chris Carter when it comes to right-handed bats that might jump-start the offense. Gomes, for his part, is lobbying his teammates to win this series and get to the A.L.C.S. Both the Orioles and Yankees have more left-handed pitchers than Detroit. His message to his teammates: “Just get me to the next (series) so I can get my fighting license back.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin penciled in the standard lineup he uses against right-handers for Saturday’s opener of the American League Divisional Series against the Detroit Tigers.
Brandon Moss got the nod over Chris Carter at first base, Seth Smith will serve as designated hitter over Jonny Gomes and Cliff Pennington is at second base over Adam Rosales. Moss, Smith and Pennington (a switch hitter) all bat left-handed, and Detroit is starting right-hander Justin Verlander on the mound.
The one exception in the A’s lineup is right-handed hitting Derek Norris playing catcher over George Kottaras, but Melvin occasionally played Norris against right-handers during the regular season.
A’s – Coco Crisp CF, Stephen Drew SS, Yoenis Cespedes LF, Brandon Moss 1B, Josh Reddick RF, Josh Donaldson 3B, Seth Smith DH, Derek Norris C, Cliff Pennington 2B; Jarrod Parker RHP.
Tigers – Austin Jackson CF, Quintin Berry LF, Miguel Cabrera 3B, Prince Fielder 1B, Delmon Young DH, Andy Dirks RF, Jhonny Peralta SS, Alex Avila C, Omar Infante 2B; Justin Verlander RHP.