With the season on the line and some uncertainty coming with Brett Anderson having not pitched in over twenty days, let alone a pivotal playoff game, the A's carried the momentum throughout the whole game and cruised to a 2 - 0 shut out.
Brett Anderson made quick work of the Tigers 1-2-3 hitters, inducing swinging strikeouts from Austin Jackson and Omar Infante. Did you know Miguel Cabrera won the Tiriple Crown? That's pretty amazing. He also grounded out on one pitch to bring Anderson's pitch count to 8 after the first frame.
The A's scored in the very first frame starting with a lead off single off Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez by Coco Crisp. Stephen Drew walked to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Yoenis Cespedes then brought Coco home for the first run of the game with a base hit up the middle to give the A's the 1 - 0 lead. Unfortunately Brandon Moss was called out on strikes and Josh Reddick followed by grounding into a double play.
Anderson would only give up 2 hits throughout his 6 innings of work both coming in the top of the 2nd. To lead off the inning, Prince Fielder hit a line drive to right-center field that seemed like it was going to tie the game, but our man Coco would have none of that. Coco got a good break as the ball was hit off the bat and broke towards the Xfinity sign on the right-center field wall and robbed Fielder of a game-tying home run with a beautiful leaping grab. Anderson seemed to be rushing and leaving some pitches up in the zone as Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta would both reach base on singles. But with runners on 1st and 2nd, Anderson induced soft ground outs from Andy Dirks and Avisail Garcia to preserve the A's 1 - 0 lead.
Although giving up a lead off single to Josh Donaldson in the bottom of the 2nd, he had a fairly easy inning. Seth Smith would line out to left fielder Andy Dirks and Derek Norris would reach first on a force out, with Josh Donaldson out at 2nd. Derek Norris, who went 5 for 6 in steal attempts during the regular season, attempted a steal of 2nd, but was caught stealing on a quick throw from catcher Gerald Laird to get the third out.
Anderson led off the top of the third by getting a swinging third strike from Gerald Laird that hit the dirt, but Norris threw to first to get the first out. To everyone's astonishment, Anderson then walked Austin Jackson on four pitches well out of the zone , but quickly ended the speedy threat with a double play ball off the bat of Omar Infante to end the inning. Anibal Sanchez would have his first 1-2-3 inning of the game, striking out Cliff Pennington, getting Coco Crisp to ground out, and inducing a line out from Seth Smith.
Both teams would go down in order for the 4th inning with Anderson continuing his great pitching and Sanchez beginning to settle down retiring 8 batters in a row from the bottom of the 2nd and the bottom of the 4th.
The A's would finally tack on a run with a 1-out homer straight to center field off the bat of Seth Smith to give them the 2 - 0 lead in the 5th. The 6th inning was also quiet, as Anderson ended his outing by once again retiring the Tigers 1-2-2, getting a ground out from Austin Jackson, striking out Omar Infante and King Cabrera to end his 6-inning, 2 hit, 2 walk, and 6 strikeout outing. Anibal Sanchez would also continue his solid performance, with the exception of the Cespedes RBI single and the solo home run from Seth Smith, he kept his team in the game.
Ryan Cook would relieve Anderson for the top of the 7th and with Prince Fielder batting and having already been robbed once in the game, he hit a little blooper to left field that looked like it would fall for a base hit, but Cespedes would make an amazing diving grab to join Coco Crisp in A's out fielders to rob Fielder of a hit. Cook would give up a single to Jhonny Peralta, but ended up pitching a scoreless inning.
Doolittle would pitch the 8th and just made the Tigers look silly by striking out the side of rookie Avisail Garcia, catcher Gerald Laird, and Austin Jackson. Getting ready for the transition of nibbling to raging, the crowd roared as Balfour finished his warm up pitches as the A's would go down quietly in the bottom of the 8th.
Not just the right field bleachers, but the whole stadium was filled with fans doing the hulk hands rage that comes with a Balfour sighting. Becoming somewhat customary at home, Balfour would continue to express his mound presence with his personal "conversations". Balfour would get Omar Infante to strike out swinging on a 96 mph 4-seam fastball for the first out. Miguel Cabrera then singled on a ground ball to right fielder Josh Reddick in attempt to postpone the A's celebration, but it ultimately sped things up as Prince Fielder would hit a soft ground ball to shortstop Stephen Drew, who tagged the bag at second for the first out and threw to first base for the second out to complete the game ending double play and top of the 2 - 0 shutout of the Tigers.
The A's stayed alive tonight and look to keep it going "one game at a time" and will rely on rookie A.J Griffin to take on Max Scherzer in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. In the meantime, sleep well knowing that A's baseball continues for at least one more day. Be honest, would you want to be doing anything else?