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Place: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California
The Oakland Athletics were a little upset about the format of the best-of-five American League Division Series after dropping the first two games on the road.
Now that they have a win in their pockets, the Athletics are in position to even the series and go for the win at the O.co Coliseum. Oakland has won seven straight at home dating back to the regular season and will try to make it eight behind A.J. Griffin on Wednesday night.
The Athletics used a familiar formula in Game 3, getting strong pitching and defense to go along with timely hitting. Coco Crisp, whose error led to the go-ahead runs in the Game 2 setback, scored a run and robbed a homer from Prince Fielder on Tuesday.
The first four hitters in the Detroit lineup combined to go 1-for-15 with six strikeouts in Oakland’s spacious ballpark, but the Tigers have the advantage of the top two strikeout pitchers in baseball lined up for the next two games in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74 ERA) vs. Athletics RH A.J. Griffin (7-1, 3.06)
Scherzer missed a start with a shoulder strain, but came back to pitch the regular season finale, allowing three hits in four scoreless innings.
The right-hander finished behind only Verlander with 231 strikeouts and has not surrendered more than three runs in a start since Aug. 5. Scherzer suffered the shoulder injury against Oakland on Sept. 18 and was lifted after allowing one run in two innings. He beat the Athletics in Oakland on May 10, striking out nine and yielding two runs in 6 1/3 frames.
Griffin struggled down the stretch and was knocked out of the regular season finale after only 2 2/3 innings. The 24-year-old rookie did not complete six innings in any of his last four starts and suffered his lone loss against Detroit on Sept. 18.
Griffin was lit up for five runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings in that turn, surrendering home runs to Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta. Griffin has yet to lose at home, going 3-0 with a 3.21 ERA in eight starts.
1. Fielder was robbed of a hit three times in Game 3 and is batting .083 (1-for-12) in the series.
2. Oakland relievers Ryan Cook, Grant Balfour and Sean Doolittle, who combined to allow four runs (two earned) with two blown saves and a loss in Game 2, combined to strikeout five in three scoreless innings in Game 3.
3. Detroit’s string of right-handed starters has kept the right-handed side of the Athletics’ platoon players on the bench. Seth Smith and Brandon Moss will likely continue to start in place of Jonny Gomes and Chris Carter.