OAKLAND -- After making six innings of shutout ball look easy, Brett Anderson admitted that his right oblique was still hurting him during the game. That news may come as surprise to the Tigers hitters who stepped into the batter's box against him. Anderson allowed just two hits and struck out six batters in a win-or-go-home game. A mere 20 days ago the young lefty strained his right oblique and was thought to be lost for the season.
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Anderson, 24, hit 93-MPH on the radar gun and had command of his biting slider. He battled through the pain to win his first postseason start and keep the A's alive in the American League Division Series."It was just kind of dull and annoying," Anderson said of his right oblique. "It wasn't like I'd throw one pitch and it would throb or pull. It was just kind of there. You have to deal with it and go out and compete."Anderson fired off 80 pitches, 45 of which were strikes. He may have been fighting through some pain but he really settled into a groove late in the game as he retired nine of the last 10 hitters he faced. After he completed the top of the sixth by striking out Miguel Cabrera, much to the delight of the sold-out crowd, A's manager Melvin broke the news that he was done for the night."There was a long discussion with him because he wasn't aware there was a pitch count with him," Melvin said. "Earlier in the game I don't think he felt as good as he did later in the game. But 19,20 days off, we weren't looking for any more than that." Anderson did his best to plead his case. He wanted to stay in the game but trusted his manager's decision. "I told him I could go," Anderson said. "Not knowing how today was going to play out, 80 pitches was enough and I had confidence in our bullpen and they did the job." "Annoying" pain aside, Anderson said his start in Game Three against the Tigers was the most fun he has ever had on the mound. He plans to show up on Wednesday and do his treatment like normal in hopes of getting prepared to make another start. He credited the raucous Oakland Coliseum crowd for helping make his first postseason start memorable. Anderson induced 10 ground ball outs and only one fly out. That one ball that was hit in the air was a rocket off the bat of Prince Fielder to leadoff the second inning, that center fielder Coco Crisp made a highlight reel catch on to keep it inside the park. "You don't ever expect a guy to rob a home run for you," Anderson said. "When he hit it I was hoping it wasn't going to leave the yard, at that point for a double. Then I see him fly through the air and make the catch."
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The catch by Crisp was as soothing as a liberal smattering of icy hot. The defense made several nice plays behind Anderson including a double play to end the third. He did himself several favors as well. He struck out Austin Jackson and Omar Infante swinging in seven total pitches to start the game, and got Cabrera on one pitch to end the first."You don't really know how the game is going to go until you end up there on the mound," Anderson said. "I was fairly sharp the first two hitters and got some strikeouts and kind of set the tone a little bit."After working through the nerves, he was able to focus on Detroit's hitters. Battling with the Tigers lineup ended up being a welcome distraction. "You aren't worried about your oblique when you are facing a Triple Crown Winner or Prince Fielder or whoever is in their lineup," Anderson said. The A's will have to hope Anderson's effort brings them some momentum. They won't be able to get him back out on the mound unless they win their next two games and survive elimination at the hands of the Tigers.