OAKLAND -- Baseball's greatest escape artists did it again. Backs against the wall, staring down elimination and dozens of other assorted no-tomorrow clichés, the Athletics handed the ball to Brett Anderson and said go get 'em.
You would think that maybe a 24-year-old left-hander who has been on the shelf for three weeks with an oblique strain might get tripped up under such circumstances. But Anderson answered every challenge over six gutsy innings, leading the Athletics to a 2-0 tightrope-walk over the Tigers in front of 37,090 roaring, green-and-gold clad fans.
So Oakland lives to fight another day.
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Just one week after a stunning three-game sweep of the Rangers to vault to an AL West title, Bob Melvin's crew is back in the same bat-place, at the same bat-time, working to accomplish another improbable sweep and leap into the AL Championship Series. The A's now trail Detroit 2 games to 1 in this best-of-five series, but the series stays in Oakland for the duration.
This one came packaged with both ice and redemption.
There was Anderson, whose three-week rehab was interrupted only be a couple of "aggressive" bullpen sessions (Melvin's description), taming the Tigers on two hits during six shutout innings. Mixing his slow fastballs (91, 92 m.p.h.) with spot-on curves (76, 77) and diving sliders (83), he kept Team Miguel Cabrera off balance all evening. And he held Cabrera, the Triple Crown winner, to two ground balls.
There was center fielder Coco Crisp, who, just two days after his dropped fly ball in center field helped cost the A's Game 2, leaped up and over the center field fence to rob Prince Fielder of a home run to start the second.
The play preserved the 1-0 lead the A's had taken in the first inning on Yoenis Cespedes' single, it shocked the Tigers and, man, did it ever jack up the Oakland faithful, who kept the joint rocking the rest of the evening.