The offense woke up in Game Three of the American League Division Series in Detroit, and luckily for the Oakland Athletics, they came out on the top end of a 6-3 score over the host Tigers at Comerica Park today.
This result means the A's hold a 2-1 edge in the ALDS between the two teams, with Game Four on tap tomorrow at 2:07 p.m. PT.
After the first two games in Oakland produced a total of six runs in 18 innings, the A's and the Tigers exploded, relatively, today for a combined nine runs in nine innings -- including three home runs by the visiting Oakland squad.
With one out in the fifth inning, Brandon Moss broke a 3-3 tie with a solo home run, and two batters later, Seth Smith followed his own long ball, giving the A's a 6-3 lead they would not relinquish over the final 15 outs.
Jarrod Parker got the three outs in the bottom of the fifth with some defensive help from Josh Donaldson, and then Dan Otero threw two scoreless innings to get the Oakland bullpen to the eighth inning.
Sean Doolittle walked a batter, but he escaped unscathed, and then in the ninth, despite some silly drama between Detroit designated hitter Victor Martinez and Oakland closer Grant Balfour, the A's secured the final three outs for the win.
This is the first time in its last three postseason series, all against the Tigers, that Oakland has had the lead in the series: in the 2006 AL Championship Series, Detroit swept the A's in four games, and last season's ALDS featured a 2-0 edge for the Tigers before Oakland forced a Game Five and eventually lost.
How will these A's handle the opportunity to close out a series? That remains to be seen, as it was a very difficult proposition for the previous era of Billy Beane-led postseason appearances for the Oakland organization:
- In 2000, Oakland lost Game Five of the ALDS to New York at home;
- In 2001, Oakland lost three straight to New York after taking the first two games on the road;
- In 2002, Oakland lost two straight, including another Game Five at home, to the Minnesota Twins after taking a 2-1 series lead;
- In 2003, Oakland again lost three straight after taking the first two games, this time to the Boston Red Sox.
For those keeping track, it was nine straight time the A's had lost a game that would have clinched a postseason series for them.
Oakland got off that slide with a ALDS Game Three win in 2006 over the Twins at the Coliseum as they swept the opening round that October -- before getting swept in return by the Tigers in the next round, of course.
Manager Bob Melvin's team should perform differently than those A's teams from a decade ago, however, as they generally have been a focused, mentally-tough group under Melvin's guidance over the past two seasons.
However, nothing is certain in postseason baseball, and Oakland would serve itself well to close out the series in four games tomorrow -- and not risk yet another Game Five.
Most A's fans would heartily agree.