A’s stage dramatic rall to stay alive


By JOSH DUBOW

Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. — After a season filled with dramatic comebacks and memorable endings, the Oakland Athletics now expect the unexpected.

Two runs down and three outs away from their season ending, the A’s staged their most magical finish yet.

Seth Smith hit a game-tying two-run double off closer Jose Valverde in the ninth inning and Coco Crisp capped Oakland’s rally with a two-out RBI single as the A’s staved off elimination for a second straight night with a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 4 Wednesday night.

“We’ve heard a lot of people say we’re not smart enough to know when to lose a game like most people do,” said Josh Reddick, who started the rally with a single. “We’ve been battling till the 27th out all year and we’re not going to stop now.”

The A’s rode a major league-leading 14 walkoff wins in the regular season to an improbable AL West title. Those paled in comparison to No. 15, which set up a win-or-go-home Game 5 against Justin Verlander and the Tigers.

Reddick led off the ninth with a single just under the glove of diving second baseman Omar Infante. Josh Donaldson followed with a double off the wall in left-center and both runners scored on Smith’s double.

“There’s a confidence,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve done it so many times so there’s always going to be that confidence until we make that last out.”

Two outs later, Crisp lined a single and Smith scored easily when right fielder Avisail Garcia couldn’t handle the ball.

That set off a raucous celebration near first base as the A’s poured out of the dugout to mob Crisp, who was the recipient of a whipped cream pie that became a regular occurrence in this remarkable season in Oakland. This marked the second time the A’s erased a two-run deficit in the ninth inning to win a postseason game, the other coming in Game 5 of the 1929 World Series.

“It’s amazing,” Crisp said. “The guys in front of me obviously did a fantastic job of getting on base. … This club, we’ve been battling the whole year, giving 100 percent, and these walkoffs have been our MO this year.”

Ryan Cook retired four batters for the win.

The A’s, who have the lowest payroll in baseball, need just one more surprising result to win their second postseason series since 1990. Rookie Jarrod Parker will take the mound in Game 5 on today against Verlander, the reigning AL Cy Young winner and MVP.

“That’s why this is the greatest game of all,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It looked like we were going to get it. We didn’t do it. We didn’t quite get the 27 outs, that’s part of the game. You get tested all the time in this game. And this is a good test.”

The Tigers looked to be in prime position to advance to their second straight ALCS and have a rested Verlander for Game 1 when they took a 3-1 lead into the ninth behind a strong start from Max Scherzer and a homer from Prince Fielder.

Now the A’s are one win away from repeating last week’s three-game sweep of Texas that gave them the AL West title on the final day of the regular season. After losing the first two games in Detroit, the A’s won 2-0 in Game 3 and are looking to become the eighth team to rally from two games down to win a best-of-five series.

The San Francisco Giants will have a shot to do it as well earlier today when they face Cincinnati in Game 5 of their NL division series.

Scherzer, who was dealing with shoulder, deltoid and ankle injuries late in the season, looked in top form against the A’s. He allowed just one baserunner in the first four innings and struck out seven of the first 15 batters before running into his first trouble in the fifth.

Smith worked a two-out walk and went to third on Derek Norris’ opposite-field blooper down the right-field line. But Scherzer responded by getting Cliff Pennington to chase an offspeed pitch in the dirt for his eighth strikeout.

The A’s finally got to Scherzer for an unearned run in the sixth. Crisp reached when Fielder misplayed a hard grounder to first base into a two-base error. Crisp advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Stephen Drew’s double to right-center. But the A’s ran themselves out of a potential big inning when third-base coach Mike Gallego waved Drew around to third, where he was easily caught on the relay for the first out.

Octavio Dotel and Phil Coke both retired a batter to get out of the sixth and Al Alburquerque pitched a perfect seventh in his first appearance since his memorable kiss of the baseball on a comebacker by Yoenis Cespedes in Game 2. Joaquin Benoit escaped a first-and-second jam in the eighth by striking out Brandon Moss, but Valverde couldn’t close it.

“This is the toughest moment in my whole career,” Valverde said. “I had everything. These guys hit it. There’s nothing I can do.”

Series glance

Detroit 2, Oakland 2

Saturday, Oct. 6: Detroit 3, Oakland 1

Sunday, Oct. 7: Detroit 5, Oakland 4

Tuesday, Oct. 9: Oakland 2, Detroit 0

Wednesday: Oakland 4, Detroit 3

Today: Detroit (Verlander 17-8) at Oakland (Parker 13-9), 3:37 p.m. (TNT)

Athletics 4, Tigers 3

Detroit AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

A.Jackson cf 3 0 1 1 0 0 .200

Berry lf 3 0 0 0 0 0 .286

a-A.Garcia ph-rf 1 0 1 1 0 0 .143

Mi.Cabrera 3b 4 0 1 0 0 0 .313

Fielder 1b 4 1 2 1 0 0 .188

D.Young dh 4 0 1 0 0 0 .231

Dirks rf-lf 4 0 2 0 0 0 .308

Jh.Peralta ss 4 0 0 0 0 0 .308

Avila c 4 1 1 0 0 1 .375

Infante 2b 2 1 1 0 0 1 .286

Totals 33 3 10 3 0 2

Oakland AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Crisp cf 5 1 1 1 0 0 .222

Drew ss 4 0 2 1 0 1 .267

Cespedes lf 3 0 1 0 1 1 .333

Moss 1b 3 0 0 0 1 2 .077

Reddick rf 4 1 1 0 0 2 .143

Donaldson 3b 4 1 1 0 0 1 .286

S.Smith dh 3 1 1 2 1 2 .182

D.Norris c 3 0 1 0 0 1 .100

b-Kottaras ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Pennington 2b 4 0 0 0 0 2 .273

Totals 34 4 8 4 3 12

Detroit 001 100 010 — 3 10 1

Oakland 000 001 003 — 4 8 0

Two outs when winning run scored.

a-singled for Berry in the 8th. b-fouled out for D.Norris in the 9th.

E—Fielder (1). LOB—Detroit 5, Oakland 7. 2B—Dirks (1), Avila (1), Drew (2), Donaldson (1), S.Smith (1). HR—Fielder (1), off Griffin. RBIs—A.Jackson (1), A.Garcia (1), Fielder (1), Crisp (2), Drew (1), S.Smith 2 (3). S—A.Jackson, Infante.

Runners left in scoring position—Detroit 3 (Jh.Peralta, Avila, D.Young) Oakland 2 (Pennington, Moss). RISP—Detroit 2 for 6 Oakland 3 for 7.

GIDP—Fielder, Jh.Peralta.

DP—Oakland 2 (Pennington, Drew, Moss), (Drew, Moss).

Detroit IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Scherzer 5 1-3 3 1 0 1 8 91 0.00

Dotel H, 1 1-3 0 0 0 1 1 11 0.00

Coke H, 1 1-3 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.00

Alburquerque H, 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 16 0.00

Benoit H, 2 1 1 0 0 1 1 21 6.00

Valverde L, 0-1 BS, 1-2 2-3 4 3 3 0 1 14 16.20

Oakland IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Griffin 5 7 2 2 0 1 85 3.60

Blevins 2 0 0 0 0 0 11 0.00

Doolittle 2-3 3 1 1 0 0 14 3.38

R.Cook W, 1-0 1 1-3 0 0 0 0 1 16 2.70

Griffin pitched to 1 batter in the 6th.

Inherited runners-scored—Coke 1-0, Blevins 1-0, R.Cook 2-0. WP—Scherzer.

Umpires—Home, Eric Cooper First, Wally Bell Second, Scott Barry Third, Jim Reynolds Right, Dana DeMuth Left, Mark Wegner.

T—3:21. A—36,385 (35,067).

How they scored

Tigers third. Avila doubled to right. Infante sacrificed, first baseman Moss to second baseman Pennington, Avila to third. A.Jackson singled to left, Avila scored. Berry flied out to center fielder Crisp. Mi.Cabrera grounded out, second baseman Pennington to first baseman Moss.

1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Tigers 1, Athletics 0.

Tigers fourth. Fielder homered to right on a 0-2 count. D.Young singled to right. Dirks singled to center, D.Young to second. Jh.Peralta hit into a double play, second baseman Pennington to shortstop Drew to first baseman Moss, D.Young to third, Dirks out. Avila flied out to left fielder Cespedes.

1 run, 3 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Tigers 2, Athletics 0.

Athletics sixth. Crisp safe at second on Fielder’s error. On Scherzer’s wild pitch, Crisp to third. Drew doubled to center, Crisp scored. Drew was out advancing, center fielder A.Jackson to second baseman Infante to third baseman Mi.Cabrera, Drew out. Dotel pitching. Cespedes struck out. Moss walked. Coke pitching. Reddick flied out to center fielder A.Jackson.

1 run, 1 hit, 1 error, 1 left on. Tigers 2, Athletics 1.

Tigers eighth. Doolittle pitching. Infante singled to center. A.Jackson sacrificed, first baseman Moss to second baseman Pennington, Infante to second. A.Garcia pinch-hitting for Berry. A.Garcia singled to right, Infante scored. Mi.Cabrera popped out to third baseman Donaldson. Fielder singled to right, A.Garcia to third. R.Cook pitching. D.Young grounded out, second baseman Pennington to first baseman Moss.

1 run, 3 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Tigers 3, Athletics 1.

Athletics ninth. Valverde pitching. Reddick singled to right. Donaldson doubled to left, Reddick to third. S.Smith doubled to center, Reddick scored, Donaldson scored. Kottaras pinch-hitting for D.Norris. Kottaras fouled out to third baseman Mi.Cabrera. Pennington struck out. Crisp singled to right, S.Smith scored.

3 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Athletics 4, Tigers 3.

 

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