Brett Anderson dazzles in Game 3 of ALDS as Athletics shut out Tigers and stay alive

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A’s left-hander Brett Anderson made only six starts during the regular season and had not pitched since September 19 because of an oblique strain, so there was reason for concern about how he’d fare in Game 3 of the ALDS on Tuesday night against the Tigers.

It didn’t take long for those concerns to disappear.

Anderson came out scorching in the top of the first inning, fanning Tigers leadoff man Austin Jackson and No. 2 hitter Omar Infante before inducing a groundout from MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera.

Anderson wound up allowing just two hits over six innings while punching out six Detroit batters as the A’s rolled to a 2-0 victory over the Tigers in what could have been a knockout game.

The Oakland bullpen also deserves great credit. Ryan Cook cruised through the seventh, Sean Doolittle fanned all three batters he faced in the eighth and Grant Balfour raged his way to a scoreless ninth.

The A’s will throw A.J. Griffin in Game 4 on Wednesday against Max Scherzer. We have a series, folks.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.