The Detroit Tigers try once again to punch their ticket to the American League Championship Series when they play Game 4 of the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum.
Oakland staved off elimination on Tuesday and won its seventh straight home game, as Coco Crisp stole a home run from Prince Fielder and scored a run in the A's 2-0 victory.
Leading off the second inning, Fielder belted a shot into right-center field. Crisp took off at the crack of the bat, ranged to the warning track and timed his leap perfectly as the ball looked like it was about to sail over the fence.
"You see him hit it and you just kind of put your head down a little bit because you think you just gave up a homer," A's starter Brett Anderson said.
Crisp, though, snatched the ball with his glove before crashing into the wall. The spectacular catch preserved a 1-0 Oakland advantage. Of course, it was Crisp's critical error that helped the Tigers win Game 2.
"The key to that play was he was playing deep and that enabled him to get into a spot to get up and make the catch. And it was a great catch, no doubt about it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Anderson (1-0) earned the win, as he fanned six, scattered two hits and walked two over six shutout innings for Oakland, which snapped a six-game losing streak to the Tigers in postseason play. The A's were swept by Detroit in the 2006 ALCS.
"We always feel good about when he takes the mound," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He goes very hard after his bullpen, so we felt confident that he was simulating that enough to go out there and pitch accordingly in a game. I don't know how you could expect more than we got out of him tonight."
Anderson outdueled Anibal Sanchez (0-1), who surrendered two runs on five hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings to absorb the loss.
"He was a little hyped up to start with," Leyland said of Sanchez. "He pitched an excellent game for us, there's no question about that. He gave us more than a chance to win. They pitched a little better than we did tonight. It's pretty simple. But I thought Sanchez was fantastic.
Getting the call for the Tigers on Tuesday will be right-hander Max Scherzer, who enjoyed a career season, going 16-7 with a 3.74 ERA and 231 strikeouts. Scherzer, though, has been bothered by a sore shoulder and pitched sparingly down the stretch.
"My deltoid has been fine," he said. "I was able to get treatment and after the second setback we really took care of it. I needed more rest, and that's what we gave it. Making that start, it was very important for me to get back out there. I'm at 100 percent. It's recovered fine. And I've been good ever since."
He's 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA and 110 K's since the All-Star break.
Scherzer has faced the A's four times and is 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA against them.
Oakland, meanwhile, will hand the ball to right-handed rookie A.J. Griffin, who was 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA. Griffin's lone loss came against the Tigers on Sept. 18 when he was tagged for five runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.
"It's a clean slate now, it's the postseason," Griffin said. "I'm 0-0. I haven't pitched yet. I'm just looking forward to going out there and contributing."
Detroit, which is aiming for its second straight trip to the ALCS, 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.