If the first two games of the ALDS between the Tigers and the A’s were all about the pitching, this was all about the hitting. After scoring only three runs in the first two games alone, Oakland doubled that with six runs — including three home runs — against the AL ERA Title winner, Anibal Sanchez. With that, the A’s took a 2-1 game lead in the American League Division Series against the Tigers.
It started in the third inning, where Coco Crisp singled and stole second base and Josh Donaldson was walked by Sanchez. This set up Yoenis Cespedes, who hit a ball towards Detroit’s third baseman Miguel Cabrera and made it to first base safely after Cabrera committed an error. Cabrera, hampered with a groin and abdominal injury, did not look 100% today. Coco Crisp scored on the error, and the A’s led 1-0.
In the fourth, Josh Reddick smacked a leadoff homer, followed by a triple from Game 2 savior Stephen Vogt. Crisp contributed a sacrifice fly to left field, and Vogt scored to give the A’s a 3-0 lead. However, not ready to back down, the Tigers quickly answered back in the bottom of the fourth. After singles from Torii Hunter and Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez hit a double to right field to score Hunter. Jhonny Peralta followed this with another RBI single, sending in Martinez and Fielder, to tie the game at 3-3. The Tigers snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak against the A’s in the process.
But Sanchez was tired after throwing 77 pitches through four innings, and the A’s capitalized, starting with a solo homer in the fifth by Brandon Moss. After a Cespedes single, Seth Smith (who was swapped in for Oakland’s Daric Barton in Game 2) hit another home run to take a three-run lead. It was Sanchez’s first time giving up multiple home runs in over a year. He was replaced by Jose Alvarez and ended the day with this line: eight hits, five earned runs and a 10.38 ERA. Parker, who would be credited with the win, was taken out after the fifth as well after only 77 pitches. He finished with five hits allowed and only one strikeout.
In the ninth, Oakland again had a chance to score, as Crisp had a leadoff double, followed with a Donaldson single. However, both Jed Lowrie and Moss struck out swinging, and Cespedes grounded out to third to end the first half of the inning. Despite the win, the A’s were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and Lowrie is 0-for-12 with six strikeouts in the series.
Easily the most exciting portion of the game was in the bottom of the ninth with Grant Balfour in as closer for the A’s (video contains NSFW language):
Balfour, well known for his loud “colorful” language out on the mound, was pitching to Martinez. Martinez, upset with something Balfour said to him after a foul ball, fired a few choice words back, and a brawl almost ensued. Both benches and the bullpens emptied out onto the field. However, no fight came out of it and order was quickly restored. Balfour kept his cool and retired Martinez on a line out to right. He finished with the save, and Oakland beat Detroit, 6-3.
Oakland could take the series by winning Game 4. Out of the last ten playoff division series, nine teams that have taken game 3 have gone on to win the series. Game 4 will be played in Detroit tomorrow at 2:07 PM (PST).