DETROIT – The Oakland Athletics have beaten Detroit with both pitching and power. And that’s left the Tigers on the brink of elimination – and simmering with frustration.
Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and Seth Smith homered for the Athletics, who chased Anibal Sanchez in the fifth inning Monday and defeated the Tigers 6-3 for a 2-1 A.L. division series lead.
Moss broke a 3-all tie in the fifth with a solo shot, and Smith’s two-run drive later in the inning ended Sanchez’s day. It was an impressive offensive show after the teams split two low-scoring games in Oakland.
This one got a little tense in the ninth when A’s closer Grant Balfour and Detroit hitter Victor Martinez started shouting at each other after a foul ball, emptying the benches and bullpens.
“I don’t know what happened. Honestly, I know that Balfour is fiery on the mound – he’s yelling a lot and spitting everywhere,” Moss said. “It’s who he is. You know, sometimes it can ruffle the feathers of other teams.”
The A’s aren’t worried about making friends, especially after losing to the Tigers in a five-game division series last year. Oakland can close out this series today and reach the A.L. championship series for the first time since 2006 – when the Athletics were swept by the Tigers.
Oakland will send rookie Dan Straily to the mound against Detroit’s Doug Fister.
“There’s no tricks. We’ve got to win the game tomorrow to try to extend it to Game 5. It’s that simple,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We ran into another situation where we didn’t put enough runs on the board and an excellent starting pitcher didn’t have a very good day.”
Sanchez, the A.L. ERA leader, allowed six runs – five earned – and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Smith has homered off Sanchez more than any other player, twice each in the regular season and playoffs.
There was activity in the Detroit bullpen before Smith’s homer Monday, and he made the Tigers pay for sticking with the struggling Sanchez.