The last 6 games of the regular season saw quite the phenomenon take place. As the Oakland Athletics ran the table to take the AL West from the Texas Rangers, a distinct home field advantage. And the A’s “10th Man” was out in full force Tuesday night as the A’s fought off elimination and forced a game 4 versus the Detroit Tigers.
Brett Anderson hadn’t pitched in 20 days, since leaving his start in Detroit against these Tigers with an oblique injury. But as he demonstrated after returning from his Tommy John surgery, pitching after a long layoff is no problem for Anderson. He was a bit wild tonight, throwing just 45 of his 80 pitches for strikes during his 6 shutout innings. I believe the term to describe Anderson’s outing would be “effectively wild” and the Tigers never were able to get their offense going tonight.
Prince Fielder had an evening he would most likely wish to forget, he was robbed of a homerun by Coco Crisp in spectacular fashion in the 2nd inning, and was robbed of a base hit in the 7th inning by Yoenis Cespedes. To cap the night off Fielder hit into a game ending double play in the top of the 9th.
The A’s got on the board in the 1st inning after a Coco Crisp single, a Stephen Drew walk, and an RBI single up the middle by Yoenis Cespedes. Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez would induce an inning ending double play from Josh Reddick to escape the 1st with minimal damage. But it ended up being enough.
Seth Smith gave the A’s a tiny cushion in the 5th inning with a solo home run against Sanchez, who Smith has owned in his career. It was only 2 runs, but the way this game was taking shape it felt like it might be enough.
After Anderson exited Ryan Cook came in for the 7th inning, he allowed a 2 out single, but otherwise worked a clean inning. Sean Doolittle lit up the radar and the Coliseum all at once by striking out the side on 12 mid 90’s fastballs. Grant Balfour came in to save the game, and struck out Omar Infante to start, meaning Miguel Cabrera wouldn’t be able to tie the game, Cabrera singled to right. Then Prince Fielder came up with that chance to tie the game, but he grounded a ball up the middle right to where Stephen Drew was positioned, Drew stepped on 2nd and fired to 1st to record the final out and preserve the A’s season for atleast 1 more day.
Now the A’s have life again, and tomorrow night in game 4 A.J. Griffin will take on Max Scherzer. If the A’s win they will force a decisive game 5 on Thursday, if they lose then their season will end. Griffin got roughed up a bit last time he faced the Tigers, and hasn’t quite been himself lately. If there ever was a time for Griffin to get right, it’s now as the A’s season still teeters on the brink of elimination. Scherzer has battled shoulder and ankle issues recently so it’s anybody’s guess how that will affect him tomorrow. If he comes out throwing in the mid 90’s, then we’ll know he’s fine, if he’s hovering around 92, we’ll know he’s still not right. The A’s love to strike out ofcourse, and Scherzer loves to deal strikeouts, but if he gets wild the A’s have to resist the urge to chase, if they do their chances of beating him will be great. Here’s to keeping the hope alive!