The San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics used strong pitching to stay alive in the Major League Baseball playoffs.
The visiting Giants avoided elimination with a 2-1 win in 10 innings against the Cincinnati Reds, while the A’s won 2-0 at home against the Detroit Tigers. The Reds and Tigers lead those best-of-five series two games to one, with both Game 4s set for today in Cincinnati and Oakland.
The other two division series, both tied 1-1, resume today. The New York Yankees host the Baltimore Orioles, and the Washington Nationals welcome the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Giants scored the winning run at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on an error by third baseman Scott Rolen, an eight-time Gold Glove winner as the best fielder at his position. San Francisco batters had three hits in the game and struck out 16 times.
“It was do or die for us,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters. “We got a break there at the end.”
Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong allowed one run on three hits in five innings, and the Reds were held to one hit in five scoreless innings against four San Francisco relief pitchers.
The winner of the Giants-Reds series will face the Nationals, who had the best record in baseball this season, or the defending-champion Cardinals for a spot in the World Series. Today’s contest is the first postseason baseball game in the U.S. capital city since 1933.
Four Athletics pitchers held the Tigers to four hits at the Oakland Coliseum.
Brett Anderson allowed two hits and struck out six in six innings to get the win for the A’s in his first start since he strained an abdominal muscle on Sept. 19. Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour each added a scoreless inning in relief for Oakland. Doolittle struck out all three batters he faced to help extend the series, which has produced a total of 15 runs.
“They played a perfect game,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said in a news conference. “It was an excellent baseball game, good pitching. Runs are at a premium so far in this series for both teams.”
Seth Smith hit a solo homer in the fifth inning after Yoenis Cespedes had a run-scoring single in the first.
“It was good to get off to a nice start,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters. “Even though it was only one run, it set a nice tone. It gets us to tomorrow.”
The A’s began the season 29th in the major leagues with a $55 million payroll, compared to fifth-highest Detroit at $132 million, according to USA Today’s annual survey. The Oakland roster was assembled by General Manager Billy Beane, whose philosophy of evaluating players was the topic of Michael Lewis’s book “Moneyball.” Lewis is a Bloomberg columnist.
Oakland is 1-5 in postseason series since Beane took over as general manager after the 1997 season, with the lone win coming against the Minnesota Twins in 2006.
The Yankees are 17-5 favorites to win the World Series, with the Reds at 18-5 and the Tigers at 4-1, according to the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book. The Nationals are listed at 21-4, meaning a winning $100 wager would return a $525 profit. They’re followed by the Cardinals at 15-2, the Orioles at 12-1, the Athletics at 13-1 and the Giants at 16-1.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi yesterday refused to rule out dropping Alex Rodriguez in the batting order in Game 3 against the Orioles.
Rodriguez, 37, whose 647 home runs rank fifth on the MLB career list, has batted third or fourth in the New York lineup in 120 of 121 starts this season.
Over the last two postseasons, Rodriguez has three hits in 27 at-bats and has struck out 11 times. He’s 1-for-9 with five strikeouts so far against the Orioles while hitting third.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to win this three-game series,” Girardi said yesterday when asked at a news conference whether Rodriguez might be lowered in the order.