The Oakland Athletics try to stave off elimination on Tuesday when they play Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers at the Coliseum.
Although Oakland finished six games better than the Tigers in the standings, the A's were forced to play the first two games of this series in Detroit and now return home where they have won six in a row and sit in an 0-2 hole after falling, 5-4, on Sunday.
After the game, though, much was made of Detroit reliever Al Alburquerque kissing Yoenis Cespedes' comebacker before throwing to first in the eighth inning.
"I don't think it was the right thing to do," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I will sit here today and I will not try to defend it. I will say that I can assure everybody, including the Oakland A's, Al Alburquerque did nothing intentionally to offend the Oakland A's. A lot of emotion is shown in different ways in the game anymore. You see a lot of different variations of personal celebrations as well as team celebrations.
"It wasn't a smart thing to do, but I can honestly tell you that there is no way that Al Alburquerque or any members of the Detroit Tigers would ever do anything intentionally to offend another team. It just would not happen."
Either way, Detroit is now a win away from its second straight ALCS appearance. The Tigers also swept the A's out of their last playoff series, the 2006 ALCS.
Hoping to get them there will be righty Anibal Sanchez, who was 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA after being acquired from the Miami Marlins. This will be his first- ever postseason appearance.
"I know that it's playoff time," Sanchez said. "I've never been in that situation, and I feel great. I think it's better now, because we're ahead. There's not too much pressure at all. We just have to play. Play relaxed. Have fun."
Oakland, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Brett Anderson, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 19 at Detroit because of an oblique injury. In six starts this season he was 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA.
Like Sanchez, Anderson, who has missed most of the last two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery, will be making his postseason debut on Tuesday.
"Just getting back on the big league mound was goal No. 1," Anderson said. "I got past that point and I was feeling good with the way I was throwing, and then get to Detroit [for his Sept. 19 start] and have an oblique injury and you kind of have to do the process all over again -- just a shorter time frame.
Anderson lost his last two starts, including one at Detroit in which he got injured, as he allowed three runs and three hits in 2 1/3 innings before leaving. He is 2-2 in four starts versus the Tigers with a 3.78 ERA.
Since Division Series play began in 1995, the team going up 2-0 has advanced 38 of 42 times, or 90 percent of the time. Only four teams have come back from that deficit, the most recent being the 2003 Boston Red Sox vs. the Oakland A's. The others are the 2001 New York Yankees vs. Oakland, the 1999 Red Sox vs. Cleveland and the 1995 Seattle Mariners vs. the Yankees.
None of them, though, had to win three consecutive road games to do it.
Detroit won four of its seven regular season matchups with the A's, most recently taking two of three from them in mid-September, and outscored them 18-4 in winning the first two games.
These teams have met twice in the postseason. In addition to the 2006 series, the A's beat the Tigers in five games of the 1972 ALCS which started a run of three consecutive world titles.