Pratt's Instant Replay: A's stave off elimination

October 10, 2012, 3:41 am
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OAKLAND -- Facing elimination, the Oakland Athletics and their fans returned home knowing they had a tough task at hand. Riding the momentum of a sellout crowd, the A's jumped out to an early lead and played shutdown defense to declaw the Tigers.The A's won 2-0 behind a gutsy effort by recently-injured starting pitcher Brett Anderson. The last time he pitched was on Sept. 19, in Detroit, where he suffered a Grade 2 oblique strain. He ended up winning the game on Tuesday.Starting Pitching ReportAll the questions surrounding the health of Anderson were answered rather quickly. He struck out Tigers' leadoff hitter Austin Jackson on three pitches to start the game. Next Anderson struck out Omar Infante on four pitches and retired Miguel Cabrera on one pitch.Anderson got a little love from the glove of Coco Crisp to start the second inning. Prince Fielder launched a ball that would have been a homer had Crisp not made a spectacular catch to rob him. Anderson gave up back-to-back singles after Fielder's near homer, but worked his way out of the inning unscathed.Anderson caught another break in the third inning. He struck out Gerald Laird, but the ball got away from catcher Derek Norris. Laird started running to first but slowed down while turning around to check and see if the umpire determined he went around on his checked swing. That gave Norris enough time to throw to first to get the out. Anderson then had trouble finding the strike zone. He walked Jackson on four consecutive balls, but got Infante to ground into an inning-ending double play with Cabrera on deck. Anderson threw 39 pitches through three innings.Anderson retired nine of the next 10 batters to get through the sixth inning. He struck out Cabrera to end the top of the sixth and the sell-out crowd went crazy.Anderson finished the night with six shutout innings of two-hit ball. He struck out six batters and walked two. He got 10 groundouts and one fly out.Bullpen ReportRyan Cook took over in the seventh inning. He got a little help from Yoenis Cespedes as he robbed Fielder for the first out. Cook struck out Delmon Young for the second out. He gave up a single, but got Dirks to hit a lazy ball to left to left field to end the inning.Sean Doolittle entered in the eighth inning. He demolished the Tigers' hitters by striking out the side. Doolittle hit 96 miles per hour on his fastball.Grant Balfour entered in the ninth inning with the heart of the Tigers' lineup due up. He struck out Infante, gave up a single to Cabrera, and then got Fielder to ground into an game-ending double play for the save.At the PlateThe A's jumped out front for the third game in a row this series. Crisp and Stephen Drew each reached base to start the game. Yoenis Cespedes cracked a ball up the middle past a diving Infante to drive home Crisp and give the A's a 1-0 lead. With two on and no outs, Brandon Moss struck out looking and Josh Reddick grounded into an inning-ending double play.The A's had a chance to break the game open in the first inning but only scored one run. They doubled their run total when Seth Smith crushed a solo homer to center field off Tigers' starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez. Smith has three career homers in just 16 career at-bats against Sanchez.In the FieldThey said the A's backs were against the wall going into this game. Crisp's literally was as he made a leaping catch against the wall in right-center field to rob Prince Fielder of a home run to start the second inning. Fielder looked like he had a line-drive home run, Crisp somehow caught up to the ball at the height of his leap and got his glove on it.Stephen Drew made two nice ranging plays in the fourth inning. The first one he ranged to his left and made a 360-degree spin to throw out Cabrera. The second, he ranged all the way past second base and made an off balance throw to rob Fielder of a hit up the middle.Cespedes made a spectacular ranging catch to rob Fielder in the seventh inning. He looked like a panther stalking his prey as he got really low to the ground as he tracked the ball and went into a dive to catch the ball. Ironically, all the plays that made the "In the Field" section were to rob Fielder.AttendanceThe A's announced a sell-out attendance of 37,090. Warriors coach Mark Jackson was in the crowd.Dot RaceGold wins the dot race with the A's wearing white jerseys. The Dot Race is so much more intense during the postseason.Up NextA.J. Griffin gets the ball in Game Four. He was 7-1 this season, but his one loss came against the Tigers.Max Scherzer will be on the mound for the Tigers. He finished second in Major League Baseball with 231 strikeouts, trailing only Justin Verlander's 239.

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