Falling behind 2-0 in a best-of-five series is never ideal. Losing in the fashion the A’s did the first two games in Detroit was less than ideal, watching defensive misplays cost them runs in both losses.
In game one it was starting pitcher Jarrod Parker with the misplay, adding and unearned run to his own total (3 Runs, 2 ER in 6.1 IP). In game two it was Coco Crisp charging in a fly ball and attempting a basket catch, only to watch it kick off his glove and cost Oakland reliever Sean Doolittle a pair of unearned runs in what was a major shift in the game. The A’s eventually lost 5-4 despite coming back to take the lead twice.
Despite some shaky defense, Athletics’ starting pitching was solid in Detroit, despite the 0-2 deficit they returned to Oakland facing. Parker allowed just the two earned runs in his 6.1 innings of work Saturday and Tommy Milone allowed only one run in his six innings of work on Sunday.
Both were outdone by the gritty veteran, pitching for the first time since September 19, Brett Anderson Tuesday night in game three.
Anderson was nasty Tuesday night, pitching six innings of shutout ball and allowing just two runs while walking two and striking out six before turning the ball over to his bullpen to preserve the shutout.
Anderson’s return added fuel to an already energized standing-room only sell out crowd of 37,090 screaming, towel waving A’s fans in Oakland.
The packed house rose to their feet in the top of the second inning when Prince Fielder launched what should have been a leadoff a homer to center field, only to watch Crisp sprint back and leap, taking the ball out of the air before crashing into the wall and landing on the warning track while raising his glove to show he made the catch. Having already led off the game with a single and scored a run on a Yoenis Cespedes RBI single, Crisp found instant redemption for his gaff in Sunday’s loss.
It wasn’t the only defensive gem of the night either, nor was it the only defensive gem on a ball hit by Fielder.
In the seventh inning Cespedes came charging a ball that looked like it might be a double for Fielder and made a spectacular diving catch to keep the Detroit slugger off base yet again.
With their pitching remaining sharp and their gloves taking center stage Tuesday night, the A’s now just need to put the final piece of the puzzle back together as they look to force a game five and get their bats going again.
A’s hitters have managed 18 hits through the first three games, including a homer by Crisp in game one, Reddick in game two and Seth Smith in game three.
With A.J. Griffin going tonight for Oakland, it would be nice to see the team that led the American League in runs and homers in the second half of the season have a breakout game and really swing the momentum in their favor behind another packed house full of screaming, towel-waving fans Wednesday night.
The crowd fueled the A’s players in the final homestand against the Rangers and was electric last night. If the A’s can force a game five tonight, just imagine how loud the Coliseum will be Thursday in game five as the A’s get their rematch against Justin Verlander and try to send the “Motor City Kitties” back home for the rest of the winter.
But as any A’s player or manager Bob Melvin would likely state here, they’re only focused on getting a win tonight and will deal with tomorrow, tomorrow.
As for the fans supporting this team, it’s too early for this party to stop.