Less than a week ago, A’s and Giants fans were riding high. The A’s had swept the Texas Rangers to snatch the AL West crown. The Giants coasted to an eight-game advantage over the Dodgers for the NL West title.
But after the first weekend of playoff games, both teams stand just one loss away from elimination. Season over. No more games. All that chatter about a Bay Bridge Series? Wasted energy.
But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost for fans of both Bay Area teams.
The A’s have three chances at home to beat the Detroit Tigers. All they have to do is beat the Tigers three straight. Anyone that thinks they can’t do it hasn’t been watching them recently. No one thought they could beat the Rangers three in a row at home, but they did it.
Is it probable? Probably not. If the A’s manage to win Tuesday and Wednesday, the Tigers will have Justin Verlander, the best pitcher in baseball, ready to go in Game 5.
The A’s were 50-31 at home this year. The Tigers were 38-43 on the road this season. And the A’s will have 35,000 fans — hopefully more — cheering as loud as they can for a team they love. It won’t be an easy place for Detroit to win.
Josh Reddick, who hit a home run in the 9th inning on Sunday that gave the A’s a 4-3 lead, is confident in the A’s chances:
“We’re not going to get our heads down and act like we’re beaten. We’ve gotten this far for a reason and we are a good team and we know we are a good team. We’re just going to grind it out and win these next three ballgames.”
Cliff Pennington echoed those feelings:
“We’ve done it all year. It’s what we started preaching back in spring training. Now we’ll see what we’re made of. I don’t think anyone doubts we’ll do it again.”
The A’s need pitchers Brett Anderson and A.J. Griffin to step up over the next two games. Anderson hasn’t pitched since September 19 when he went just 2-1/3 innings against the Tigers before leaving with an oblique injury. Griffin has made it past the 5th inning just once in his last four starts, and his leash will be very short.
In order to host another playoff game, they have to go to Cincinnati and win three games. But the one thing in the Giants favor is their success on the road. While AT&T Park can render the Giants’ offense useless, the bats tend to wake up on the road. The Giants scored 102 more runs and hit 41 more home runs on the road this year.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy isn’t ready to quit:
“We know where we’re at right now and our backs are to the wall. We have to come out and be ready to play once we go to Cincinnati. It’s been done before and we have to keep fighting.”
The Reds pitching has shut down Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro, who are a combined 1-for-17 in front of Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence.
The A’s and Giants are two tough teams. I wouldn’t put it past either team to come back. They’ve persevered through adversity to get where they are.
When I’m at a game with a friend and they scream “Come on, Buster. Hit a home run,” I tell them “Stop being greedy. Just ask for a base hit.” A’s and Giants fans shouldn’t have been asking for a Bay Bridge series. They should have been asking for a series win. Now they need to ask for just one win at a time.