The 2006 Playoffs were right around the corner. It was crunch time. As each day clicked off the A's became more in control of their own fate. The last week of September rolled around and it looked as if the four teams were set; the Twins, Tigers and Yankees. Suddenly the rationalizing started pouring out that the A's should want to play the Tigers or the Twins in the first round and preferably the Tigers rather than the Twins in the first round. The Twins were on fire and took the AL Central on the last day of the season, the Yankees had 'the best lineup in the history of baseball' (or at least as far back as August of 2006).
The Tigers spanked the Yankees and the A's swept the Twins. After a long weekend, the A's now find themselves down 0-2 to the Tigers in the ALCS. Would you rather have DETROIT ROCK CITY down 0-2 or NEW YORK GROOVE down 0-2?
The A's are in a corner, but they are used to that. The 2006 playoff hopes now hinge on Rich Harden and the A's approach against Kenny Rogers. If Harden can go six innings and the A's can manage 4 runs, they should set themselves up nicely for Game 4 on Saturday.
The offense is going to depend on leadoff hitter Jason Kendall and - only Macha knows why - two hole hitter Mark Kotsay to drive up Rogers' pitch count and get on base. The A's may have been next to last in every category in hitting with runners on base. But eventually if youput enough runners on base, they will sometimes find their way home.
The A's have to take two of three from the Tigers in Detroit and the Tigers were terrible at home down the stretch. Joel Zumaya and Justin Duchscherer are both out with injury so this game takes the tension to the next level. Both pitchers are the managers first choice in relief.
Zumaya with a wrist strain on his throwing hand and Duchscherer - what else, his back. You can imagine what good warm weather does for a bad back and what a three hour plane ride and snow flurries do for a bad back. I would not be surprised if Mark Kotsay is out as well. He and Duchscherer seem to play dueling Doan's a lot.
If that is the case, Jay Payton would move to center and with Kenny Rogers pitching - Bobby Kielty would move to left field. I would be for Dan Johnson getting to start at 1st base over Swisher for defense and at the plate.
BOOM:There has been a lot of excuses flying around about why Eric Chavez is playing so poorly in the field. His two errors called singles thus far in the series have both been back breakers leading to three runs. Some are pointing to his bad hamstring or his shoulder. These were the same excuse makers who were claiming it was okay that Chavez stunk up the place with his bat because his defense was "superior". Well, what now? His defense has been season ending - but he has hit one hit - a HR, one walk and three K's. Throw in that Chavez has back issues and you wonder if he will be sitting next to Macha while Adam Melhuse or Hiram Bocachica take his spot at third.