2012 ALDS: A’s Avoid Sweep, Receive Great Effort From Pitchers In 2-0 Win Over Tigers


Oct 9, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Grant Balfour (50) and catcher Derek Norris (36) high five teammates after winning game three of the 2012 ALDS against the Detroit Tigers at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Detroit Tigers 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

The A’s did everything they could to avoid a sweep, and thanks to some slick fielding, great pitching and timely hitting, they were able to do so.

With thousands of passionate fans cheering them on, Brett Anderson and the A’s delivered a spectacular performance as Oakland salvaged a game from Detroit with a 2-0 win. Seth Smith homered and Yoenis Cespedes hit an RBI single for Oakland, while Coco Crisp made a ridiculous catch to rob Prince Fielder of a home run.

Fielder hit a pitch left over the plate by Anderson into right-center field, and Crisp raced back to try and catch the ball. It was clearly headed over the fence, and it would’ve been a game-tying home run. However, Crisp reached out while running, nabbed the ball, crashed into the wall, held on and sent the Oakland Coliseum into a frenzy.

Even though he made that mistake, it was clear that Anderson had his pitches working. Manager Bob Melvin wanted to limit him to around 80 pitches, and he wanted five innings out of the southpaw. Instead, he got six innings and 80 pitches of two-hit ball. Anderson pounded the zone early in counts, then kept his slider down while forcing numerous Tigers to chase sliders down out of the zone in favorable counts for the resilient lefty.

Melvin turned to his bullpen trio, which had collapsed in Game 2, allowing four runs in less than three innings. However, Cook did a nice job in the seventh, Doolittle was dominant in the eighth, and Grant Balfour finished off the win with a strong ninth in which he faced three batters. Doolittle threw the ball hard, and no one could catch up to his fastball. Balfour blew a fastball by Omar Infante, then forced a double play to end it after Miguel Cabrera singled.

It was a nice play by Stephen Drew, one of many in the series. And, thanks to superb defense, the A’s will live to see another day.

Seth Smith also helped, hitting a low pitch well over the 400-foot fence in center field. Smith entered the game with a .462 batting average off of starter Anibal Sanchez, and he made Sanchez pay for a pitch in the fifth. It wasn’t a horrible pitch, but Smith saw the ball and delivered a clutch knock, providing an insurance run for Anderson and the bullpen.

Sanchez twirled a nice outing, pitching effectively into the seventh inning while allowing just two earned runs. He kept his pitches down, but the A’s did a nice job putting some runs on the board. Crisp and Drew led off the game by getting on base, and Cespedes hit a low breaking ball up the middle for an RBI single. In the seventh, Cespedes laid out to rob Fielder of a leadoff single.

Detroit only compiled four hits, with two off of Anderson, one off of Cook and one on Balfour. Cook struggled and allowed Tigers hitters to make some nice contact, but he survived an inning. Doolittle and Balfour were filthy once again, retrieving any fear Oakland fans might have had about turning a close game over to an inexperienced bullpen. All three pitchers allowed runs on Sunday, and decent contact was made off of all three hitters.

The momentum and the crowd is on Oakland’s side, and they are ready to strike. Max Schrezer is trying to finish off the series for Detroit, while Justin Verlander will back him up in Game 5 (if there is one). Schrezer will oppose A.J Griffin, who is 7-1 but is struggling recently. Both games will be in Oakland, but that may not be enough. Griffin allowed five earned runs in less than five innings on September 18 at Detroit, while Schrezer lasted just two innings before leaving with an injury against Oakland. He allowed one earned run.

Can the A’s ride the wave of momentum and snatch Game 4? You can find out tomorrow night. However, for now, the A’s will celebrate another great outing from Anderson, the return of the bullpen, and yet another crucial win with their backs against the wall.