DETROIT -- Of greater significance than the A's 3-1 loss to the Tigers in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Saturday was the triumphant performance of Pat Neshek.
The reliever, taking to the mound with a heavy heart in the seventh inning just three days following the unexpected death of his first-born child, 1-day-old son Gehrig John, showcased what manager Bob Melvin deemed to be his most domineering outing of the season, all under grim circumstances.
With runners on first and second and one out, Neshek forced a potential double-play ball from Alex Avila that only resulted in one out, leaving Neshek no choice but to strike out Austin Jackson in dramatic fashion. Oakland's dugout erupted, its two-run deficit of no worry for the moment.
"It made me feel good. I got goose bumps," Melvin said Sunday. "I was watching him in the bullpen, just to see if I could see anything different, and I didn't. When I got on the mound, when I gave him the ball, he was the exact same he was every other time I've given him the ball. He wants the ball, he wants to talk to the catcher real quick and he wants to get going and work quick, and he did. Pitches were all crisp. I thought he threw really well, and I think everyone felt good about that."
Neshek's brave ways were again on display in the clubhouse just moments after the game, when he faced the lights of several cameras and the sound of reporters talking over one another with question after question.
"I don't see stuff like that, but it doesn't surprise me," Melvin said. "I talked to him real briefly when I came into the clubhouse, and he was very happy to be here around his teammates and his wife wanted him to come, too. So I think that was probably a good thing for him to be here and around those guys, and maybe just as medicinal as getting out in a game and pitching right away as opposed to having to wait around and trying to find the right spot.
"There's really no soft landings in the postseason, so he came into the game when we needed him to get those outs, and he did it."
Anderson declares himself OK to start Game 3
DETROIT -- A's lefty Brett Anderson didn't need an official announcement to declare his status for Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday.
"I'm ready to go," said Anderson, his right oblique injury no longer a concern. "You don't know how many times you're going to make it to the postseason, so I'm going to cherish this moment. Everyone's got nicks and nacks at this point in the season, so just put Icy Hot on it and get after it."
Oakland, however, waited to name its starter for the third game of the best-of-five series against Detroit until Monday, shortly before the club's afternoon workouts. With the A's on the verge of elimination in the ALDS, Anderson's presence in Game 3 will be all the more significant.
That puts rookie righty A.J. Griffin in line to start a potential Game 4 on Wednesday.
"I think the better [Anderson] feels day to day, hour to hour, we'd like to be able to pitch him in [Game] 3," manager Bob Melvin said. "So we still hold that out to potentially be the case, but I think we're probably more prudent to announce that tomorrow.
"It's mostly how he feels. We want to try to get him in a game as soon as we can -- and that's regardless. So if he feels good enough to go, whether we win, lose, we'd like to pitch him sooner than later."
Anderson, 24, played catch on Sunday morning and claimed his oblique "definitely good enough to pitch," noting that come Tuesday, "I also think the adrenaline and the magnitude of the game will help get me through."
There will seemingly also be an extra dose of motivation on Anderson's side, given the fact he may feel he has a job to finish, having suffered his injury in the third inning of a start against the Tigers, having already given up three runs in an eventual loss.
"That would be just another awesome ending to an adverse chapter this team's had," Jonny Gomes said.
Despite not starting, Gomes cheering on teammates
DETROIT -- It goes without saying that right-handed-hitting veteran Jonny Gomes, on standby in the dugout during this best-of five Division Series against the Tigers as the A's face a string of righties, is cheering for wins. His desire to contribute to this postseason run has him cheering even harder.
"I was telling the guys, 'Just let's get to the next series,'" Gomes said, smiling. "Baltimore's got a few lefties, and so does New York, so I'm these guys' No. 1 fan right now. Just get us to the next one so I can get my fighting license back."
Manager Bob Melvin is rather strict when it comes to his many platoons, as he rarely strays from his strategic plan of playing to matchups just to hand away playing time for the sake of it. It's one of the traits Gomes appreciates and respects most about him.
"That's how the A's work, it really is," Gomes said. "That's why Bob Melvin's been great. We've had all these platoons, and I think once you cross over the platoon once, you've got to cross over with them all.
"I'd like to be in there. I'm sure we'd all like to be in there, but that's how the A's have won this year, and we've done a good job. So just because we're in the playoffs doesn't really mean we've got to mix it up."
Oakland essentially employs platoons at Gomes' designated hitter position, as well as catcher, second base and first base, where Brandon Moss drew his second consecutive start Sunday. His other half, the right-handed Chris Carter, sits in the same boat as Gomes, and Melvin said Sunday he wouldn't be afraid to use either should the Tigers bring in a lefty.
"And even if they want to bring in a lefty and want to turn it right back around, we feel good about both those guys against those pitchers, too," Melvin said. "We hope to get Jonny in a game here at some point in time, and if that's not the case today, hopefully and potentially we even look to get him a start. We don't want him sitting around too long. He has hit certain right-handers pretty well, so we're always looking to get him in the game."
Melvin learned a lot while under Leyland's tutelage
DETROIT -- The A's and Tigers are making their own history in the American League Division Series, but there's also a unique story involving Oakland manager Bob Melvin and Detroit.
Melvin came up with the Tigers as a rookie catcher in 1985, the year after Detroit won its last World Series title, to begin a 10-year Major League playing career. Four years before that, in instructional league, he played for an up-and-coming manager named Jim Leyland, who now helms the Tigers.
Melvin said he wasn't around Leyland for very long that year, because Leyland got the third-base coaching job for the Chicago White Sox in the middle of that season, but that didn't matter.
"There were so many things you could learn from [him] as a young player, and then as far as playing for Jim Leyland ... it didn't take you long to be around Jim Leyland to realize the impact that he has around players and people," Melvin said.
"I remember losing three or four games in a row to start, and he came in, had a little tirade, in instructional league, that got my attention very quickly. Some of the points were made that because this is winter ball doesn't mean we [don't] go out there without the intensity to win. [I] learned a lot in a very short period of time with Jim Leyland, one of the great managers of all time."
As for Detroit, Melvin remembers entering a clubhouse full of champions and learning his place very quickly.
"It was more like do your thing and [don't] be heard, just kind of do your thing," Melvin said. "That's the way it was back then when you were a rookie type player. It's a little different now, but being able to come in behind the Lance Parrishes and Kirk Gibsons and Alan Trammells and Jack Morrises. I watched those guys very closely coming up through the system, and I really was proud of the fact I came up in the Tigers system.
"I only spent one year in college. Then you go up in your system, which was for me it was a Tiger system. It was almost like being at a university."
Leyland recalled a few things about the younger Melvin.
"Well, I just remember Bob was an excellent catcher," Leyland said. "He was like all of us, there was a question mark whether he was going to hit or not.
"But he was always a very bright student of the game. You could see that right from the get go. He's done a wonderful, wonderful job."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB and read his MLBlog, Youneverknow. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.