The Oakland Athletics have played all season with their backs against the wall, so tonight's matchup against the Detroit Tigers, down 2-0 in the American League Division Series, is nothing new for them.
Starting with sporting the lowest team payroll in the AL, the A's have had to deal with everything from their ace, Brandon McCarthy, taking a potentially fatal hit to the head in early September, to their starting third baseman, Scott Sizemore, suffering a season-ending injury in Spring Training and even losing veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon in August due to a positive drug test.
The Athletics have dealt with all this and more, all while climbing up from the basement of the AL West.
The Tigers, despite being the lower seed, hosted the first two games of the ALDS and managed to eek out two victories by a total of three runs.
But as the series shifts to Oakland on Tuesday for Game 3, the A's are far from finished.
Brett Anderson is set to start Game 3 on the mound for Oakland and is the best chance the A's have.
Anderson has been riddled with injuries this season and has only started six games, but has gone 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 35 innings.
The 24-year-old has been sidelined since Sept. 19 with an oblique strain but has the confidence of his teammates that he'll be able to turn the series around.
“You almost wonder if it was meant to be this way,” closer Grant Balfour said to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Was Brett meant to be on the mound to save us? I’ve had crazy thoughts like this this year – and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he did this. I know it’s a tough feat, but we’ve gone through some tough feats."
The fourth-year player is the most experienced pitcher in the A's postseason rotation and is matched up against the newest Tiger, Anibal Sanchez.
Sanchez, who was acquired by the Tigers in a July trade, struggled in his first few starts for Detroit but rebounded phenomenally in September, boasting a 2.43 ERA with 37 strikeouts and only five walks in 40 2/3 innings.
Sanchez had one of his worst starts as a Tiger in his last appearance against the A's, allowing six runs—five earned—on six hits in 5 2/3 innings, but the hot pitcher will look to lead the Tigers to the ALDS sweep tonight.
The Tigers' biggest focus on offense will be getting Prince Fielder going. Fielder went 1-for-8 with one strikeout and one walk in the first two games of the series.
Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera is coming off a three-hit performance in Game 2 and will probably be pitched around in Game 3, making Fielder's production that much more important.
The A's were one of the best teams in the AL at home this season, boasting a 50-31 record at the O.co Coliseum, while the Tigers have struggled on the road all season, going 38-43 away from Comerica Park.
Both Oakland and Detroit have played evenly in the first two games of the series, and the A's could have easily be the ones going into Tuesday's game up 2-0.
Facing an elimination game is, after all, very familiar for the A's, as they had to win the last six games of the regular season to capture the AL West crown.
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