OAKLAND ATHLETICS (97-67)
at DETROIT TIGERS (94-70)
American League Division Series, Game 3 - Series tied 1-1
First pitch: Monday, 1:05 p.m. ET
Line: Detroit -150, Oakland +140, Total: 7
The Athletics will travel to Comerica Park on Monday afternoon to take on the Tigers in a pivotal Game 3 of the ALDS.
Oakland will send right-hander Jarrod Parker (12-8, 3.97 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) to the mound on Monday in an attempt to continue to silence the Detroit bats. Opposing Parker will be 29-year-old right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). In the first two games of this series, pitching has dominated on both sides with a total of only six combined runs scored. Over the 2013 campaign (including postseason) the A's were able to get the best of the Tigers, winning 5-of-9 games between the two teams. Over the last three years, the clubs have been very evenly matched, with the slight 16-15 edge going to Detroit. The recent history between these two franchises extends deeper than the regular season though, as the Tigers defeated the Athletics in the 2012 ALDS, 3 games to 2, with Parker losing Games 1 and 5. At home this season, the Tigers have done well with a 51-30 record (.630) and will need to oppose the exceptional 44-37 record (.543) that the Athletics have on the road. Both offenses will be looking to get off to a quick start on Monday, and will need their stars to perform in order to achieve this. All-Star 3B Miguel Cabrera will be looking to reach base for the 27th straight time in the postseason since joining the Tigers. Oakland OF Yoenis Cespedes will try to continue his hot streak in the series so far (4-for-8, 1 HR, 2 RBI in 2013 postseason).
The 24-year-old Jarrod Parker will be looking for redemption against the Tigers after being credited with the two losses (4.26 ERA, 11K's, 2 BB) in the Athletics 2012 ALDS series loss to Detroit. Parker’s final numbers in 2013 were strong, but he was inconsistent on the year and finished off the season poorly. In his past three starts, Parker went 1-2 with a 9.21 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, allowing four homers in 14.2 IP. The one start that Parker had against the Tigers in 2013 came back on April 14 and it was atrocious, as he lasted just 3.1 innings, giving up 8 earned runs on nine hits in a 10-1 defeat. That dropped him to 0-4 with a 6.65 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in four career starts versus Detroit. Over 53 plate appearances against him, current players on the Tigers' roster have hit .319 with 11 RBI. 3B Miguel Cabrera has done well in a limited sample size against the righty, going 3-for-5 with 3 RBI. The Athletics bullpen will be called upon early if Parker struggles, and will bring its excellent 25-18 record, 3.19 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. During this postseason the ‘pen has pitched four scoreless and hitless innings, striking out three and walking none. Closer Grant Balfour (38 saves, 2.59 ERA, 1.20 WHIP in regular season) earned the win on Saturday night with a perfect ninth inning on 11 pitches and looks to continue his very strong season when he successfully closed out 38-of-41 (93%) of his save opportunities.
The Tigers will continue to match or exceed the Athletics starters with Anibal Sanchez taking the mound for Game 3. His 2013 season was his personal best so far, as he posted career highs in nearly every major pitching category. Not only was this season the best for him, it was arguably one of the best in all of baseball as Sanchez led the AL in ERA (2.57) and home runs per 9 IP (0.45), while placing sixth in strikeouts (202 K’s in 182 IP). Unlike Parker, Sanchez finished off the season on a high note. Over the final month of the year, he went 2-1 (team 3-2) with a 2.05 ERA and 39 K’s in 30.2 IP. Sanchez also faced the Athletics twice over the season, but with mixed results. On April 14, he allowed just one run in seven innings of a 10-1 blowout win, but on Aug. 26, Parker surrendered four runs in just five frames of an 8-6 home loss. His only other career start versus Oakland came last year when he was rocked for six runs (5 ER) in just 5.2 innings. The biggest threat to Sanchez in the A's lineup is OF Seth Smith (6-for-17, 2 HR), while others on the team have had a lot of trouble against Sanchez. 1B Brandon Moss and SS Jed Lowrie have combined to go 3-for-21 with 5 K’s in this matchup. Over his career, Sanchez has started three postseason games (all in 2012) and has gone 1-2 with a 1.77 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, which includes a loss in Game 3 of the last year's ALDS against the Athletics. With a 4.01 ERA and 1.35 WHIP during the regular season, the Detroit bullpen has had its problems. These issues have followed it into the postseason as the bullpen lost Game 2 in the ninth inning on Saturday, allowing four hits, two walks and the winning run over just one inning pitched. If a save situation would arise, closer Joaquin Benoit (24 saves, 2.01 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) would be called upon. He earned the save in Game 1 of this series with three strikeouts and no hits in 1.1 innings. On the season, Benoit has been very efficient in the role of closer, converting the save in 93% of his chances.