Tigers vs. Athletics: Crucial Storylines Entering Pivotal Game 3

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 13: Brett Anderson #49 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first inning during the MLB game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 13, 2012 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics' magic could come to an end Tuesday night, with the Detroit Tigers carrying a 2-0 lead into Game 3 of their ALDS matchup.

The Tigers have put together 18 hits in two games versus the Oakland pitchers, riding big starts from Justin Verlander and Doug Fister in the process.

Oakland hasn't been awful, but the young team hasn't been able to overcome the Tigers' postseason experience thus far.

Let's take a look at three crucial storylines heading into Tuesday's Game 3.


Brett Anderson

Anderson only made six starts this season, but he will get the ball in Game 3 nonetheless.

In those six starts, the powerful southpaw was 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. It has never been a question of talent with Anderson; it's all about his health.

Now, he will have a chance to prove that, and the stage has never been bigger for the 24-year-old lefty. If he doesn't deliver an impact start, Oakland will face its second straight postseason sweep at the hands of the Tigers.

They must score runs to win, but a bad start from Anderson derails all hopes.


Al Alburquerque's Gesture

Alburquerque's kissing of the ball is probably being overstated, but much smaller things have given a team momentum.

If the Athletics really took exception to Alburrquerque kissing the ball after fielding Yoenis Cespedes' comeback hit, it could translate to an added edge in Game 3.

If not, it's still a storyline entering Tuesday's game.

Jim Leyland insisted to The Associated Press (via ESPN) that his pitcher meant no offense, but that doesn't change what happened. Oakland's coaching staff would be smart to play it up, invoking some emotions from their reeling squad.

If Alburquerque takes the mound on Tuesday, listen for the boo birds.


Prince Fielder's Bat

Fielder only has one hit in eight at-bats thus far, leaving the Tigers without one of their major power sources through two games.

That should scare Oakland a bit. Brett Anderson has devastating stuff when facing left-handers, but Fielder's power transcends any of that. One mistake could give Detroit a boost it hasn't received yet, despite its two victories.

Fielder only had 30 home runs this season, but he did have over 100 RBI. He protects Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, even when he isn't producing at the plate.

If Fielder breaks through, Detroit's offense could be very tough to slow down on Tuesday.