It’s been seven years since the Oakland Athletics last played in the American League Championship Series. Now, they are just one win away from advancing beyond the ALDS.
On Tuesday, the AL West champs look to close out their best-of-five set with the Detroit Tigers in Game Four. Oakland will send Dan Straily to the mound against Doug Fister.
Monday saw the A’s take control of the series with a 6-3 win on the road. Prior to Game Three, neither team was having much success at the plate. Oakland had only scored three runs with a .177 batting average, while a Tigers player hadn’t crosses home plate since the first inning of the opening contest. That changed, though, as the Athletics had their way with one of the best pitchers in the MLB.
During the 2013 regular season, no AL starter had a better ERA than Anibal Sanchez. However, the right-hander surrendered six runs in less than five innings of work. The Athletics were led by Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and Seth Smith, who all went yard at Comerica Park.
"We're going to strike out and we're going to hit the long ball, so once we get those going, it's going to be a good day," Reddick told the Athletics' website. "And to do it against a guy like Sanchez, who's been great all year, it does a lot for your confidence coming into (Tuesday)."
Following his big Game Three, Moss could be in for another strong performance at the plate. He’s been terrific in Detroit, hitting .444 with five home runs in five games at the Tigers’ home ballpark. In the potential clincher, he’ll face Fister, off of whom he’s three-for-five.
For the most part, the entire Oakland lineup has a good history against the Detroit starter. As a team, they have a .328 average against Fister, who finished the season with 14 wins and a 3.67 ERA. In August, he allowed seven runs on 13 hits in a loss to the A’s.
"I try and take goods and bads out of every start," Fister said. "That was a while ago, and I was struggling about that time, trying to keep the ball down and really trying to fine tune some of my pitches. They know what we do, we know what they do, and it's a matter of going out there and executing. I think that's the biggest thing for us is go out there and execute, get the job done, make sure you've done your homework, preparation and that you're ready for that game."
If Straily, who had a 2.10 ERA in September, can get Oakland to the ninth inning with a lead, Grant Balfour will likely come in for the save. The reliever closed out Game Three, but not before getting into a shouting match with Tigers catcher Victor Martinez. Both benches cleared and the players had to be separated.
"He was staring me down," said Balfour. "So I said, 'Why you staring me down? What's your problem right now? You got a problem, come out here.' So he came out. We had a few words. No big deal. I like the fire. Obviously he does, too."
Three-time batting champ Miguel Cabrera is still looking to make an impact in the series. He’s gone 3-12 in the postseason with no extra-base hits.
Start Time: 5:07 p.m. ET
Betting Odds: Detroit-144, Oakland+134
TV Channel: TBS
Live Stream: Postseason.TV
Prediction: Oakland 6, Detroit 5