OAKLAND COLISEUM — The A’s have been the surprise team all season, winning home games in walkoff fashion.
Tuesday night’s affair was a suspense-filled game the A’s had to win, down two games to none. But Oakland struck first and led from start to finish, getting timely hitting from Yoenis Cespedes and Seth Smith. Combined with great pitching from Brett Anderson and the bullpen, that was enough for the Athletics to shut out the Tigers, 2-0.
Anderson injured his right oblique 20 days ago, but he found a way to fight through the pain to win his first career postseason start:
Audio: A’s pitcher Brett Anderson
“It’s probably number one considering the magnitude and the situation. If we don’t win we go home and so to pitch fairly effectively and give us a chance to win like our other two starters had is fun and probably the most fun I’ve had on a baseball field ever.”
Anderson was being modest, but he hurled a near-dominating performance.
It didn’t hurt that he had great defensive help, particularly the catch by Coco Crisp in the top of the second inning to rob Prince Fielder of a home run.
Crisp raced to the wall and timed his leap in center field perfectly as his glove rose above the outfield wall to take away what would have been a game tying run:
Audio: A’s outfielder Coco Crisp
“At that moment that was just the right time for me to run and catch it. There’s not much more I can say about it. Just seeing it, trying to get the appropriate timing, not jump into the wall. I think I was able to maneuver that one the right way.”
After Crisp singled to lead off the game and Stephen Drew walked, the Cuban missile Yoenis Cespedes singled up the middle to bring in Crisp.
The game remained a 1-0 A’s lead until Seth Smith’s long home run to center field in the fifth inning.
After Anderson’s six innings, the trio of Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, and Grant Balfour shut the door on the Tigers.
Doolittle was particularly impressive, striking out the side in the eighth inning.
Audio: A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle
“The way they battle and the way they put together at-bats, you’re just looking to get the first guy out and then put up a goose egg in that inning and try to keep the momentum in our dugout and let them get any momentum whatsoever.”
In the ninth inning — with the fans raging with their arms and gold rally towels — Balfour closed it out for the save. After striking out Omar Infante, he gave up a single to Miguel Cabrera. But Balfour induced Fielder to hit into a game-ending double play:
Audio: A’s pitcher Grant Balfour
“In Detroit it wasn’t what we planned it to be. But I feel like the whole bullpen has been so good this year, been so great. It’s not going to last forever. If we have a bad game, I know we’re going to bounce back. I believe in every one of them down there so I’m just glad we could get it done tonight and looking forward to coming back tomorrow.”
The win also breaks a six-game postseason losing streak for the A’s, all against the Tigers. Back in 2006, the A’s were swept by the Tigers in the ALCS.
Wednesday night it’ll be rookie A.J. Griffin on the hill against Detroit’s Max Scherzer, with first pitch at the Coliseum scheduled for 6:37 p.m.