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 …