DETROIT -- When the A's hit the field at Comerica Park for warm-ups before Game 3, it was just after 11 a.m. local time and the scoreboard read 49 degrees with a chilly wind blowing from right to left field. Third baseman Josh Donaldson drained a Mountain Dew before starting to stretch. Odds are the people already occupying seats at Comerica Park are leaving chairs in other locations -- offices, schools -- empty.
In short, it's early. First pitch is scheduled for 10:07 a.m. PT. The good news is that, after some substantial rain in the area yesterday evening, the sun has been in and out for most of the morning, though forecasts still say there's a chance of showers in the afternoon.
"Not much we can do about it," A's manager Bob Melvin said of the early start time. "It's not ideal. But both teams have to play in the same conditions, same time."
Both offenses have looked pretty groggy anyway through the first two games of the series with the A's striking out 29 times in two games and the Tigers having not scored in their last 17 innings. For the A's, Melvin said there's no reason not to stay patient with his regulars -- particularly Brandon Moss, who has six strikeouts in the first two games -- and said he does expect the lineup to break out at some point.
"I think you do tend to probably press a little bit the farther it goes along," Melvin said of hitters. "I think that's the case on both sides right now. That's just human nature.
"A lot of times, it takes one game, one good outing, one offensive performance and it gets to contagious, to get you feeling good as a group again. It just hasn't happened yet."
Hoping to jog his offense a little, Melvin flipped Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie in the lineup today -- Donaldson will hit second against Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez and Lowrie third. Here's the full A's lineup:
And the Tigers lineup against right-hander Jarrod Parker:
* It's no surprise to see Smith in the lineup again. Along with his two hits in Game 2, including a pivotal ninth-inning single, Smith has the best career numbers of any A's hitter against Sanchez: 7-for-19 with three home runs. The rest of the lineup's lifetime numbers against Sanchez go like this:
Crisp: 3-for-9, HR
* On that note, here are the lifetime numbers for the Tigers against Parker. Leadoff man Austin Jackson has been the biggest thorn in Parker's side, while Parker has done a good job against the Tigers' most feared left-handed hitter, Prince Fielder.
Jackson: 6-for-11, 2 2B, HR
Hunter: 4-for-14, 3 2B
Avila: 3-for-11, HR
* Eric Sogard is hitless in four at-bats during the series. Melvin said he's sticking with Sogard at second base in part because of Sogard's defense and because Sogard swung the bat "consistently" toward the end of the season. Having Alberto Callaspo on the bench also gives Melvin a switch-hitter to match up with later in games.
* Melvin said A.J. Griffin played catch in Oakland "the other day and felt pretty good." Griffin (right elbow tendinitis) is scheduled to throw again today, but not off a mound.
If the A's were to advance to the ALCS, Melvin said Griffin would have to throw at least one full, "strenuous" bullpen session using all his pitches and come out of it with no pain to have a chance of rejoining the A's rotation.
-- Matt Kawahara