Big League Stew

ALDS Game 3: A’s ride pitching and great defense to victory, force Game 4 with Tigers

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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Score and situation: You didn't think the Oakland A's were going away that easily, did you? Thanks to a great pitching performance from Brett Anderson and a pair of highlight reel catches in the outfield, they lived to fight another day with their 2-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.

Leading lads: Brett Anderson pitched through an oblique ailment better than anyone could have anticipated. In fact, A's manager Bob Melvin was simply hoping for five good innings from his left-hander coming off a 20-day layoff, and ended up getting six lights out and completely scoreless innings. Anderson allowed only two hits, walked two and struck out six in the outing. He was also aided by a home run saving grab from Coco Crisp. Yoenis Cespedes would then make a highlight reel grab of his own in the seventh to help out Ryan Cook.

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Offensively, sweet-swinging Seth Smith cracked a majestic solo home run to center field in the fifth. It was his first home run in 12 career postseason games. This was after Cespedes opened the scoring with a first-inning RBI single.

Head hangers: Anibal Sanchez was pretty solid himself for Detroit, but he obviously received little support from his offense. Again, much of that credit goes to Anderson and his defense, but Detroit's inability to get the top four hitters in their order on track — 1 for 15 — was crippling. That one hit, by the way, was a Miguel Cabrera ninth-inning single. That brought up Prince Fielder as the tying run, but Grant Balfour got him to hit into a game-ending double play.

Key play: Without question, Coco Crisp's sensational catch to rob Prince Fielder of a home run was the biggest play of this game, and could ultimately be viewed as the biggest play in the series if Oakland comes all the way back. Not only did it directly take a run off the board for Detroit, it also derailed a potentially big second inning. With that out already in his pocket, Anderson was able to escape the inning with two ground outs after back-to-back singles from Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta.

Interesting stat: Coco Crisp's great catch was the only fly ball out Brett Anderson recorded in the outing. In addition to his six strikeouts, he induced 11 ground outs.

What they'll be talking about: Now that Oakland has opened the door a little bit, will the Tigers be able to keep them from storming through in Game 4 to force a deciding Game 5 on Thursday? Also, I hope people will acknowledge how terrific Brett Anderson's effort really was considering his status for the game wasn't completely certain until Monday afternoon.

What's next: The series continues with Game 4 on Wednesday night at 9:30 ET. Max Scherzer will look to punch Detroit's ticket to the ALCS, while Rookie A.J. Griffin pitches for Oakland's survival.

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