By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – When reporters walk into the Detroit Tigers clubhouse after a game, there is almost always music. After a loss, it is more subdued, but it is usually still there. After a win, especially a good win at the end of the season, it is raucous, so loud that interviews turn into shouting matches out of necessity.
As players trudged to their lockers Monday night after a 6-3 loss to the Oakland A’s that put the Tigers down two games to one in the American League Division Series, there was no music.
No music – but no panic, either, even though elimination looms as a possibility if the Tigers cannot get a win Tuesday.
“You have a game plan, you try to stick to it as best as possible, you make adjustments along the way, and you put your best at bat forward, and that’s the bottom line,” catcher Alex Avila said. “If you get out, you’re out. If you get a hit, then you try to string together quality at bats. We’ve all been through this before.
“Pressure – I get asked, third year in the row we’re in the playoffs, and I get asked that question,” Avila continued. “This is what we live for, so it’s not even in our minds.”
While Detroit’s game three starter, Anibal Sanchez, had an uncharacteristically insufficient outing, Avila praised the bullpen for keeping the Tigers in the game. He said all Detroit needs is timely hits. Right fielder Torii Hunter agreed with Avila that pressure is not a factor for the team.
“To be down 2-1, pressure’s off us,” Hunter said. “We’ll go out there tomorrow, play our game and not worry about too much. I think that’s what we need to do. I think we’re trying to do a little too much, and also they’re playing well.
“We’ll come back ready to go,” Hunter said. “It’s not over yet.”
Doug Fister starts for the Tigers in game four, which will either push the series to game five or end Detroit’s season. The Tigers as a group have struggled against Oakland, but statistically speaking, Fister’s most recent experience with the A’s in particular might make fans most nervous.
Fister faced Oakland Aug. 28 and lasted five innings while allowing seven earned runs on 13 hits. Contemplating that last exploit in front of reporters Monday, Fister appeared calm and focused.
“I try and take goods and bads out of every start,” Fister said. “That was a while ago, and I was struggling about that time, trying to keep the ball down and really trying to fine-tune some of my pitches. They know what we do, we know what they do, and it’s a matter of going out there and executing, and I think that’s the biggest thing for us these next couple days is just go out there and execute.
“Get the job done,” Fister continued. “Make sure you’ve done your homework, make sure you’ve done your preparation and that you’re ready for that game.”
If the Tigers lose Tuesday, it will be the team’s earliest exit from the playoffs in the three-year streak. In 2012 Detroit went all the way to the World Series, defeating Oakland along the way before being swept by the San Francisco Giants. In 2011 the team went down a round earlier, falling 4-2 in the American League Championship Series to the Texas Rangers.