DETROIT -- The 2012 Oakland Athletics have been a resilient bunch. They have managed to deflect several seemingly debilitating blows this season and continue on uninterrupted while landing a solid counterpunch. After losing Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, and now Brett Anderson to injury, they aren't down for the count, but they might have a tough time lasting much longer.
Anderson left the game after 48 pitches in the third inning with a right oblique strain. For a team that at one point had an embarrassment of pitching riches, they will be scraping to get by for the rest of the season. On Wednesday the A's lost their starting pitcher and the ballgame 6-2. It was their third consecutive loss.
RECAP: Tigers 6, A's 2
"You just have to get through it," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You are never going to speed right through and win every game. There's going to be tough spots you have to work through."Anderson left the game after falling forward in his follow-through on a 2-2 pitch. He had already allowed two runs, and a third run was charged to him when one of the runners on base when he exited ended up scoring. Melvin said that Anderson was a little bit tight entering the inning.
NEWS: Anderson exits with oblique strain
"We could see a couple pitches where he was kind of stretching his back," Melvin said. "On the one he fell I am not sure it affected him that he needed to fall.""He said he tweaked his oblique a few pitches before and didn't know if it was anything," catcher Derek Norris added. "He threw a couple more pitches and said it just didn't feel right." The first two batters in the third inning reached base on back-to-back bunt singles up the first base line. It looked like Detroit manager Jim Leyland was exploiting a weakness of Anderson's. It doesn't appear the attempts to field the bunts is what hurt him. Travis Blackley will jump into the rotation. That decision was actually predetermined though, and had nothing to do with Anderson's injury. The team decided they wanted Blackley on the mound in New York against the Yankees on Saturday instead of Dan Straily who was scheduled to pitch that day. Straily will fill Anderson's spot in the rotation assuming the oblique injury keeps him out. "We just felt like matchup-wise that was the right thing to do," Melvin said. "We talked to both of those guys."Blackley is 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 12 starting assignments. He says he is already getting mentally prepared to pitch in a big September game in Yankee Stadium."I'm psyched about it," Blackley said. "It's good to know you can be trusted and to take the reigns when needed. I'm trying to treat it like any other game and try to get outs." "As a kid growing up that was who you pictured yourself pitching against, the Yankees," Blackley added. "It's going to be one of those dreams come true again. I look forward to it." If the Anderson situation wasn't difficult enough to overcome the A's hitters had to face the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander. The A's offense managed to get get on base in each of the six innings he pitched, and had two runners reach in each of the first three innings, but couldn't get the big hit when they needed it. "It's kind of his M.O. when he gets in trouble. He reaches back and kicks it into a different gear," Derek Norris said. "Whenever he needed to make a pitch, he made it, and whenever the defense needed to make a play, they made it. That's just how it goes sometimes." The A's left seven on base against the Tigers' ace, but were able to run up his pitch count and get him out of the game with 122 pitches through six innings of work."We did good about getting his pitch count up and getting him out of the game," Brandon Moss said. "We just weren't able to do anything against their bullpen."After Verlander exited the game, the A's still struggled to score. They missed out on a big opportunity when Seth Smith hit a leadoff double in the eighth inning. He ended up stranded on second base. Smith was also part of a base running mishap in the first inning when he got caught in a rundown between second and third after a Yoenis Cespedes single. The A's ended up rallying for two runs off Jose Valverde in the ninth inning but it was too little, too late.With the loss of Anderson, and the losses in the standings, the A's haven't exactly gotten off to an ideal start to their 10-game road trip. They say despite how it looks, it isn't time to panic yet.
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"Teams go through skids, we're having a little one right now," Blackley said. "We've done it all year, we've stayed in the race when people said we were going to fall out." Anderson would have been able to make three more starts before season's end. Similar to the loss of the other starting pitchers, the team will have to find a way to absorb the blow. With just 14 games left to play they won't have time to sulk. "We've got some injured guys and Coco Crisp out, potential Brett out," Melvin said. "Some of the guys are going to have to pick it up."There were no postgame updates on Crisp as he continues deals with pink eye in both of his eyes. A lot is made of how important Cespedes is to the team, but the A's are 62-43 when Crisp starts and 22-21 when he doesn't. The A's will have a chance to salvage a win in the series in a day game on Thursday. A win would provide some much-needed momentum before taking on the Yankees in New York on Friday.