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A's aim to finish off Tigers

10:26 AM, Oct 8, 2013   |    comments
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(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oakland Athletics needed to rely on a lot of young pitchers to win an American League West title this season.

They'll turn to one of those young arms on Tuesday, as they try to finish off the Detroit Tigers and advance to the American League Championship Series in Game 4 of the ALDS at Comerica Park.

Dan Straily gets the call for the A's, who will be trying to secure their first trip to the ALCS since 2006 when they were swept by the Tigers.

The 24-year-old righty made 27 starts this season for the A's and went 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA. Like Sonny Gray on Saturday, Straily will be making his first postseason start tonight.

"We come in here and we're a very confident group," Straily said of the A's young staff. "Just because everyone hasn't heard of us, doesn't mean that we don't belong here, that we aren't good enough to be here. We all know what we can do individually and accomplish as a group as well."

Straily has made one career start against the Tigers, coming at Comerica on Aug. 28. He threw six innings of one-run, eight-hit ball and was credited with the victory in a 14-4 win.

After splitting the first two games of this series in Oakland, the Athletics seized control of the best-of-five set Monday, as Seth Smith smacked a two-run homer and Brandon Moss added a solo shot as part of a three-run fifth inning in the A's 6-3 win.

Josh Reddick cracked a solo blast as well for Oakland, which pounded out 10 hits after tallying just 11 with three runs through the first two games. Oakland, of course, was up among league leaders with 186 homers on the season.

"That's the logic with our team," said Josh Reddick, who hit the other homer. "We're going to strike out and we're going to hit the long ball, so once we get those going, it's going to be a good day. And to do it against a guy like (Anibal) Sanchez, who's been great all year, it does a lot for your confidence coming into tomorrow."

Grant Balfour tossed a scoreless ninth for the save. He and Victor Martinez traded barbs during an at-bat, which caused the benches and bullpens to empty.

"He was staring me down," said Balfour. "So I said, 'Why you staring me down? What's your problem right now? You got a problem, come out here.' So he came out. We had a few words. No big deal. I like the fire. Obviously he does, too."

Coco Crisp had two doubles among his three hits to go with an RBI and a run scored, while Jarrod Parker (1-0) surrendered three runs on five hits and a walk over five innings to pick up the win.

Teams that have gone ahead 2-1 in the Division Series have won it 35 out of 43 times, and nine of the last 10. And the A's lost two in a row just once in their final 35 games this season.

"We're good. We know what we have," Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera said. "We have to be ready to play tomorrow and try to force Game 5."

Sanchez (0-1), the AL's ERA leader (2.57), allowed just 0.45 homers per nine innings during the season, but gave up all three of the Oakland homers in his 4 1/3 frames of work.

Sanchez was shelled for six runs -- five earned -- on eight hits and two walks for the Tigers, who have scored in just two innings so far in this series.

"He's my guy, and he did lead the league in earned-run average," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland. "You figure he's going to get out of it at any time, because he's good at making pitches."

Hoping for a little more support on Tuesday will be righty Doug Fister, who won 14 games and pitched to a 3.67 ERA this season.

"He's one of our four," Leyland said. "He's a competitor. He keeps the infielders and outfielders on their toes because he works fast. He's a terrific fielder. He has movement and his forte is to make them miss-hit the ball. He makes them miss-hit the ball, put it in play and makes the defense work."

Fister, who was rocked to the tune of seven runs in five innings in that Aug. 28 tilt with the A's, has pitched well in the postseason, going 2-3 with a 2.97 ERA in six games (5 starts).

"It's not going to change anything. It's the same as any other start that we have made all year," Fister said of being tasked with extending his team's season. "It's one of those things that I'm honored to be able to pitch, period. When your name is called, you're ready to go. And that's kind of the way things have been and that's my mindset. We've just got to out there and play like we always would."

Detroit, which lost four of seven games against the A's during the season, has beaten Oakland the last two times these teams have met in the postseason. The A's only win against the Tigers in the playoffs came in the 1972 ALCS, which started a run of three consecutive world titles for Oakland.

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