The Oakland A's were riding high entering the American League playoffs. They were coming off two celebrations in less than a week. First, for clinching a wild card playoff spot and then for sweeping the Rangers to win the AL West. They were a team of destiny.
Unfortunately for the A's, the Tigers were hot to finish the season as well and were able to win the first two games of the ALDS at home. Oakland had the tough task of facing Justin Verlander in Detroit in game 1 and came out on the losing end. The A's had the lead several times in game 2, but kept finding ways to give away runs and ended up losing 5-4.
With the new playoff format, the A's had to start on the road despite the fact they had homefield advantage. If Oakland could have pulled off a game 2 victory they would be sitting pretty with the next three games at home. The loss in game 2 obviously puts the A's backs to the wall as they will have to win three straight against a good Tigers team. If the A's can win the next two to even the series, they will be rewarded by having to face Verlander again in game 5. Brutal.
The key for the A's is going to be focusing on each game individually rather than thinking about having to win three straight. With such a young team, it's going to be manager Bob Melvin's job to keep the team loose and focused on the task at hand. Veterans Jonny Gomes and Brandon Inge will also play an important role in keeping the clubhouse loose.
The A's have shown this year that they can string together victories against good teams. Especially at home. The A's swept the Yankees in a four-game series July 19-22 in Oakland. All four of those victories came by one run. Oakland finished the season with a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers in a winner takes the AL West series.
Brett Anderson is slated to take the mound for Oakland in game 3. Anderson only made six starts this season and hasn't pitched since September 19th when he left the game against the Tigers with an oblique injury. He pitched well in his limited action this season with a 4-2 record and 2.57 ERA. When Anderson is on, he can be lights out.
For the Tigers, Anibal Sanchez will be on the hill. The A's fared well against Sanchez in their last meeting. Oakland scored 5 runs in 5.2 against Sanchez in a 12-4 victory against the Tigers on September 20th.
Even though the A's are facing elimination, they have plenty of reasons to be confident that they can win game 3.
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*Daniel became an Oakland A's fan during the Bash Brothers era of the late 1980s. He has followed the A's and Major League Baseball for over 20 years. Daniel is currently a Featured Contributor on the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
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