After the first weekend of the 2013 MLB playoffs, no series has been tighter than the one between the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics. On Monday afternoon, one team will look to become a win away from advancing to the ALCS.
The American League Division series between the Tigers and Athletics is knotted up at one game apiece. Game Three will take place in Detroit, following two highly contested matchups in Oakland. Games One and Two were both decided by a single run.
In the regular season, the Tigers and A’s had the best starting rotations in the AL. That has proven to be no fluke in the postseason, with every starter delivering strong performances. For Detroit, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander both went seven innings, striking out 11 batters. Following a rough first inning for Bartolo Colon, Oakland’s starters have been nearly unhittable. The Tigers have been held scoreless since they put up three runs in the opening frame of the series.
Jarrod Parker will try to keep the Athletics shutout streak alive in Game Three. He had a 3.97 ERA this season, but finished poorly with a 6.41 ERA in September. Not only will the 24-year-old be looking to give his team a 2-1 advantage, but a victory would also be redemption for last year’s playoffs. Parker made two starts in the 2012 ALDS, including a Game Five loss that sent the Tigers into the ALCS. He gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings, while Verlander went the distance for a complete game shutout.
"I think making two postseason starts last year is definitely a benefit for me this year," Parker said on Sunday. "I'm going to be able to settle in and slow things down right away. It's not going to be so foreign, I guess. It's just being there in it last year, it's one of those things where you pull from those things. You pull from the last two games, that atmosphere."
Against Parker, the Tigers will send Anibal Sanchez to the mound. He may be the No.3 starter, but Sanchez, arguably, had the best year on Detroit’s staff. Scherzer is the Cy Young favorite after winning 21 games, but Sanchez led the AL with a 2.57 ERA. His terrific regular season came after he was dominant in the 2012 playoffs. The 29-year-old had a 1.77 ERA in three starts last October.
“We knew we were getting a guy that was going to keep you in the game, but he’s definitely been much better than I think anybody thought, as far as his consistency,” said Tigers catcher Alex Avila.
Sanchez may have to be close to perfect, considering Detroit’s struggles at the plate. The Tigers .283 average led the AL in the regular season, but they are hitting just .219 in the ALDS. MVP favorite Miguel Cabrera has yet to get an extra-base hit, and the club is still without a homerun.
“I haven’t seen any signs of anybody on our club pressing,” Detroit Manager Jim Leyland said. “I think they’re really competing; they seem to be in good spirits; clubhouse has good atmosphere, so I can’t say that. You know, you never really know because you don’t – you know – you can’t get inside the individual to know the answer to that question, but I don’t really see any signs of that.”
Start Time: 1:07 p.m. ET
Betting Odds: Detroit-150, Oakland+140
TV Channel: MLB Network
Live Stream: Postseason.TV
Prediction: Oakland 3, Detroit 1