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A's look to turn tables against Tigers

The SportsXchange

The Oakland A's might be the perfect team to be down two games to none in a best-of-five series.

The A's still have fresh in their memory their season-ending rally from five games down with nine to play. To overcome that deficit, they had to win eight of those nine games.

By comparison, having to take three straight games from the Detroit Tigers to win their American League Division Series seems like a routine few days for the Team That Wouldn't Go Away.

And the A's will have an important addition Tuesday night when they begin what they hope will be another amazing comeback. Brett Anderson, who hasn't pitched since straining an oblique muscle in a Sept. 19 game against Detroit, is Oakland's scheduled Game 3 starter against the Tigers' Anibal Sanchez, who like Anderson will be making his first postseason start.

"I'm ready to go," Anderson told "You don't know how many times you're going to make it to the postseason, so I'm going to cherish this moment. Everyone's got nicks and nacks at this point in the season, so just put Icy Hot on it and get after it."

If Anderson can get the series to Game 4, A.J. Griffin -- who was hit hard by Texas in the final regular-season game -- is the scheduled Oakland starter. Anderson is expected to be on a fairly low pitch-count leash, probably around 85.

The A's can take solace in the fact that both of their losses in Detroit were close, low-scoring games -- the sort of game they won over and over this season. Tigers ace Justin Verlander simply was too much for them in Game 1, and Oakland's mistakes combined with Detroit's clutch hitting turned Game 2 in the Tigers' favor.

Oakland also has the advantage of being at home for the final three games, unlike the neighboring San Francisco Giants, who dropped the first two games of their Division Series at home and now must win three games at Cincinnati to advance. The A's were 50-31 at home this season. The Tigers, meanwhile, were the only division winner to have a losing road record (38-43).

The other issue that was at play Sunday was Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque's curious move after he caught an inning-ending grounder in the ninth inning. Alburquerque snagged the ball and kissed it before throwing it to first for the out -- a clear violation of baseball etiquette, some would say.

"I didn't appreciate it," A's outfielder Josh Reddick told "I think that's immature and not very professional. So that's all I can leave it at."

But the A's have bigger problems than a setup reliever for the Tigers kissing a baseball. They need to find a way to get Miguel Cabrera, Detroit's Triple Crown winner and possible AL Most Valuable Player, to stop hitting the ball so hard.

After going 0-for-3 in the series opener, Cabrera was 3-for-5 Sunday with two doubles and then a key single in the decisive ninth-inning rally.

The Tigers also can bank on the fact that they have Verlander ready to take the mound if the A's can keep the series going. That should take some pressure off Sanchez, who went only 4-6 with the Tigers after being acquired from Miami at the July trade deadline.

"I don't think I have to do everything," he told "I think we're going to keep playing like we're doing right now.

"It's different (if it's) 1-1. But now, two ahead, we don't have to feel any pressure. We have to keep playing. We have to be relaxed, we have to enjoy the day, enjoy the game, and we'll see what happens in the end."

Sanchez faced the A's during the teams' late season series at Detroit and gave up six runs (five earned) in 5 2/3 innings.

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