ALDS Game 3: Key Matchups

ALDS Game 3: Key Matchups
October 9, 2012, 5:20 pm
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OAKLAND -- The Oakland Athletics have their backs against the wall in a major way. It seems they like to play with the odds against them. If that's truly the case, then they got their wish. Oakland has lost it's last six postseason games against the Detroit Tigers. The last time the A's beat the Tigers in a postseason series was the American League Championship series in 1972. Many remember that series because of an infamous altercation. Tigers' pitcher Lerrin LaGrow hit Bert Campaneris with a pitch and Campaneris fired his bat back at the pitcher. Tigers' manager at the time Billy Martin was the first out of the dugout to go after Campy as the benches cleared. The A's ended up winning their first Oakland World Series that year and went on to win it all in 1973 and 1974. This may be a subliminal message to the Tigers, but Campaneris will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on Tuesday. Of all the A's greats who could have been chosen to throw out the pitch, Campaneris seems like the most relevant choice. Key Match Ups for the Athletics-- Seth Smith vs. Anibal Sanchez: Smith has hit .462 (6 for 13) against Sanchez in his career. He has two homers, one double, and three RBI against the Tigers' righty. Smith was in the lineup when the A's faced Sanchez on August 20 in Detroit and homered off him. The A's knocked Sanchez out after five and two-thirds innings with six runs, five earned, the last time they faced him. Smith is 0 for 5 with two walks in this series so far.-- Anderson vs. Tigers: No player on the Tigers' active roster has hit a homer against Anderson. Miguel Cabrera has fared best against Anderson, he is 3 for 7 with a double, one RBI, and three walks against him. Anderson is going to provide more than a presence on the mound. He becomes the latest unbelievable story that can serve as a motivational factor for a team that could use any boost it can get down 0-2 and facing elimination. It was against Detroit on August 19 that Anderson left with a strained right oblique. A return in time to take the mound when the A's need him the most could pick up a team facing elimination. -- Baseball Gods vs. The Tigers: When Al Aburquerque caught a come backer hit by Yoenis Cespedes and kissed the ball before throwing to first he angered some A's players. In response, Jonny Gomes told reporters that the Baseball Gods have a way of working these things out. The A's have many strange storylines working for them this season, this is just one more. The team will be getting Anderson back, playing for the son of Pat Neshek -- Gehrig John Neshek -- who tragically passed away 23 hours after being born, and playing for Brandon McCarthy who suffered a skull fracture after getting hit by a line drive. They are playing to win, but of all the twists of fate the A's have endured this year, what's one more? Oakland never even held sole possession of the AL West before winning game 162. At this point nothing should shock the A's or their fans anymore. Winning the next three at home against Detroit is just the latest challenge they've been presented. -- Miguel Cabrera's Weakness: The reigning American League Triple Crown-winner can give any pitcher fits. He hit .335 against right-handed pitchers this season and .314 against lefties. That reverse split favors the A's with Anderson, a left-handed pitcher throwing. Only four of Carbera's 44 homers came with a southpaw on the mound. Cabrera has been good in Oakland this season though, he hit .500 (9 for 18) with one double and seven RBI at the Oakland Coliseum this season. -- Fielder of Dreams: So far in nine games against the A's this season Prince Fielder hasn't been a factor. Including the playoffs, he is hitting .086 (3 for 35) in nine games against Oakland pitching in 2012. With an ineffective Fielder backing up Cabrera the A's should be able to be more careful with the Tigers' dangerous three hitter. -- Sanchez surging: The A's were the only team that tattooed Sanchez in September. He had a 2.15 ERA in his last eight starts. That was the sixth lowest ERA in the American League since August 22. -- Anderson's Inexperience?: Anderson may be the most experienced active pitcher in the A's rotation, but he hasn't pitched in the postseason before. At 24, Anderson will be the fifth youngest starting pitcher to take the mound in a postseason game. Vida Blue became the youngest to do so when he pitched in the 1971 ALCS. Anderson is 185 days older than Mark Mulder was when he pitched in the 2001 ALDS. For what it's worth, Mulder won that start after going six and two-thirds innings and allowing just one run.