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A's stave off elimination behind Brett Anderson's comeback, beat Tigers 1-0

The Oakland A's got an early lead on an RBI single from Yoenis Cespedes.

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A's take Game 3 from Tigers behind Brett Anderson

Four A's pitchers combined on a season-saving shutout, as Oakland downed the Tigers, 2-0, to take Game 3 of the ALDS.


A's up 2-0 in 9th, but Cabrera and Fielder loom...

Expert Analysis: One run is good. Two are better.

Got that? Oakland's bullpen has been outstanding this season, and especially down the stretch. That's essentially how they caught and beat the Rangers for the American League West flag. Still, in the ninth inning A's closer Grant Balfour will have to face Omar Infante (hmm), Miguel Cabrera (OMG) and Prince Fielder (BIG).

So a two-run lead looks a lot better than a one-run lead.

And that's where things stand after eight inning: Athletics 2, Tigers 0 after Phil Coke and Rick Porcello kept the A's off the board in the bottom of the eighth.

The A's, of course, lost the first two games of this series. But that was in Detroit, and one of them was against Justin Verlander and so it really doesn't count. Now they're in Oakland, and if Balfour can keep the Tigers from scoring two runs and the A's can get to Max Scherzer in Game 4 ... well, Justin Verlander doesn't win every game he pitches, right?


Octavio Dotel is an immortal vampire

Which is to say, he's been around for a while, and he will never go away. For the second straight season, Octavio Dotel is a pitcher for a playoff team, and that gives us a chance to stare at his Baseball Reference page. It's a magnificent page. Some highlights:

  • Thirteen teams. I mean, don't bury the lede. He holds the record for most teams played for, as he passed Matt Stairs, Mike Morgan, and Ron Vilone when he signed with the Tigers.
  • Over the last two seasons, his strikeout-to-walk ratio jumped up into elite territory ... but his run prevention didn't get that much better. He's a control maven now, walking fewer than two batters per nine innings. Either he figured something out as a 37-year-old, or the league changed around him.
  • The trades he was a part of -- so fun. He went to Houston when Mike Hampton went to the Mets. He went to the A's as a part of the Carlos Beltran deal. He was traded to the Dodgers when they were giving away free James McDonalds. And he was a part of the Edwin Jackson/Colby Rasmus deal that somehow ended up as a World Series title for St. Louis.

Appreciate Octavio Dotel now because he'll be gone soon. Just kidding. Appreciate him at your leisure. He'll be around longer than you are.


Another A's fielding gem preserves 1-0 lead in 7th

Well, Brett Anderson lasted only six innings for the A's in Game 3 of this Division Series.

Considering a) he hadn't pitched in a game since the 19th of September, and b) tonight he pitched six shutout innings, the A's will take those six innings and feel like they're ahead of the game.

And they are ahead, though by just one run. And not even that, except for Coco Crisp stealing a home run from Prince Fielder.

But after those six shutout innings and only 80 pitches, Anderson was finished. The first man out of the bullpen was rookie and erstwhile closer Ryan Cook, and the first batter in the seventh was Prince Fielder and ... well, maybe this just isn't Prince Fielder's night ...


Two potentially game-changing drives, and two spectacular catches; this time it was Yoenis Cespedes -- by the way, he drove in the A's only run -- who victimized the big first baseman.

Cook struck out Delmon Young. Jhonny Peralta poked a seeing-eye grounder into center field for a single, but Cook retired Andy Dirks on a (routine!) fly to left field to add another zero to the scoreboard.

So in the seventh inning stretch, the Athletics still own the smallest of leads.


Seth Smith hits solo shot, A's up 2-0 in 6th

The offseason for the A's was a busy one. They got outfielders, pitchers, more pitchers, and a Manny Ramirez. But one of the bigger moves was a trade for Seth Smith, a left-handed outfielder/DH who was a popular target for a lot of teams this winter. He was supposed to be a middle-of-the-order presence, at least by A's standards.

He didn't do a whole heck of a lot during the regular season, though, and the middle-of-the-order slots went to surprises like Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss.

But in the playoffs, all it takes are a few well-timed hits to justify your existence, and Smith boomed a solo homer to center against Anibal Sanchez:

The shot put the A's up 2-0, and on the other side, Brett Anderson hasn't allowed anything to the Tigers, getting through the sixth inning in his return from an oblique tweak that sidelined him for the end of the regular season.


Brett Anderson has shutout as A's up 1-0 in 5th

In 1945, Tigers right-hander Virgil Trucks returned from military service just in time to start Detroit's last game in the regular season. The Tigers edged the Washington Nationals for the American League pennant, and Trucks started twice in the World Series against the Cubs. He won Game 2, and escaped with a no-decision in Game 6 (the Tigers lost that game, but took the next one to win the championship).

Brett Anderson isn't Virgil Trucks. But he started only six games for the A's this season and hasn't won since the 8th of September, but is pitching a gem in Game 3, which could be the last of Oakland's magical 2012.

After recovering from Tommy John Surgery, Anderson returned to the A's rotation in late August, and gave up only three runs while going 4-0 in his first four starts. But he struggled in each of his next two starts, and went on the shelf for a few weeks with a strained oblique muscle. That, coupled with Brandon McCarthy's serious head injury, left the A's with an all-rookies rotation that was good enough for a come-from-behind division title.

A healthy Brett Anderson, though, is the Athletics' best starting pitcher. And after five innings tonight, he's working on a four-hit shutout. But heading to the bottom of the fifth, the A's still have just a 1-0 lead, and it's not likely that one run will be enough to win this one.


A's score in 1st inning, lead 1-0 after 3 innings

Leaving aside Yoenis Cespedes' RBI single in the first inning and Coco Crisp's scintillating catch in the second, Game 3 of this American League Division Series has been generally uneventful through its first three innings.

A's starter Brett Anderson did get into a spot of trouble in that second inning, but faced only three Tigers in both the first and third frames. Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez has been solid since giving up that run in the first.

So we're in the top of the fourth, and A's are ahead 1-0 in a game they have to win.


A's take early 1-0 lead, Coco Crisp preserves it

This was supposed to be a somewhat prosaic update about the A's early lead. Coco Crisp singled to lead off the first inning, and he moved to second after a walk to Stephen Drew. Yoenis Cespedes singled Crisp home with a completely ordinary single off Anibal Sanchez:

See? Nothing too uncommon. And after Brandon Moss struck out, Josh Reddick hit into a double play, and the inning ended as quickly as it began. I had no idea how I was going to flesh that out into a full update.

And then there was this catch, on a deep fly from Prince Fielder:

I'm as guilty as anyone from overusing "CATCH OF THE YEAR?" hyperbole, but considering the circumstances (and considering that a Coco Crisp error might have given Game 2 to the Tigers), that's on the short list. Crisp took a home run away from Fielder, keeping the 1-0 Athletics lead.

Goodness, what a catch.

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