The Oakland Athletics trailed the Texas Rangers by 13 games on June 30 and still found a way to win the American League West, so they're used to seemingly insurmountable challenges. Down 2-0 in the AL Division Series, the Athletics return home to face a Detroit Tigers squad that's riding a wave of momentum after two close wins. The Tigers are getting timely hitting, but are still waiting for Prince Fielder to heat up. The power-hitting first baseman is 1-for-8 with no RBIs in the series and batting .183 in 17 career playoff games. Oakland is hoping right fielder Josh Reddick's eighth-inning homer Sunday is a sign of things to come. Reddick, who led the Athletics with 32 regular-season homers, opened the series with six straight strikeouts.
Detroit's bullpen was a key part of Sunday's 4-3 victory, but Joaquin Benoit allowed his 15th home run in 73 innings this season. Reliever Al Alburquerque drew the ire of some Oakland players when he kissed the ball and looked at the Athletics dugout before getting the final out in the ninth. The Athletics have fanned 23 times in the first two games, and that number figures to climb dramatically if the series goes five games. Games 4 and 5 starters Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander each had more than 200 strikeouts this season, and Verlander fanned 11 in the series opener.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics LH Brett Anderson (4-2, 2.57 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Anibal Sanchez (4-6, 3.74)
Anderson is set to make his first start since Sept. 19, when he left his start against Detroit in the third inning with a right oblique strain. He missed most of the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but posted a WHIP of 1.03 in six starts down the stretch. In two home starts covering 13 innings, he allowed two earned runs while striking out 10. Anderson is 2-2 with a 3.66 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers.
Sanchez was a solid midseason addition, making 12 starts after being acquired from the Marlins in late July. He finished the season on a high note, allowing one run in his last two starts covering 15 1/3 innings. Sanchez struggled in his lone start against Oakland this season Sept. 20, giving up six runs (five earned) over 5 2/3 frames. He will be pitching on eight days' rest, which could bode well for Sanchez. He has posted a 3.07 ERA in 23 career starts on six or more days of rest.
1. The Athletics have lost each of their last six postseason games, all against Detroit. Oakland was swept by the Tigers in the 2006 AL Championship Series
2. 3B Miguel Cabrera has reached base safely in all 13 of his postseason games with the Tigers, trailing only Charlie Gehringer (16) and Hank Greenberg (18).
3. Oakland has started a series 0-2 eight times and never come back to win.
Stats and Records: Team Comparison
|10/7/12||OAK 4||DET 5||.306||0||.711||.273||1||.732|
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