It’s been five long years, but the A’s are officially back into the MLB post season.
21,162 wild and raucous fans were on hand tonight to witness the A’s beat the Rangers 4-3, clinching a playoff birth and moving just one game back of Texas with two games to play.
It is fitting that right after Melvin told Comcast Sports Net “I’ve won a World Series[...]but it is nothing like this.” Josh “Pie-derman” Reddick came up and gave his manager a pie to the face. There really is nothing else like this anywhere in baseball.
The A’s celebrate at the coliseum and fans around the Bay Area pop champagne of their own all know, this team is special.
I mean, have you ever seen a manager take a pie to the face?
Whether its journeymen who have pitched around the world, rookie starters who sold shoes last summer, or a line up so full of holes it was taking on water in June, every single piece of this Athletics season has been an amazing surprise.
If you didn’t catch the game, where the hell were you? It was a close game like the A’s have played all year, and the A’s managed to win without the long ball that has become the staple of the team.
The A’s got things going right off the bat in the first inning. Coco Crisp led off the game with a single and Jonny Gomes followed with a single of his own. After Yoenis Cespedes grounded into a double play, it looked as if Rangers starter Perez would get out of the inning unscathed. But Chris Carter drew a walk and Reddick came through with a big single up the middle scoring the A’s first run of the night.
Josh Donaldson followed with a walk to load the bases and Perez just made things worse for himself when he balked to force in a run, making the score 2-0.
But nothing is easy with these Rangers and while Perez settled down on the mound, the Rangers got the scoring going themselves in the top of the third. Mike Napoli lead off with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Mitch Moreland singled away from the shift on the left side of the infield, putting runners on first and third. Jarrod Parker would strike Ian Kinsler out swinging but a flare single from Elvis Andrus scored Napoli from third.
Parker would follow with a strike out of Josh Hamilton and after a bit of a battle got Adrian Beltre to ground out, ending the threat.
Michael Young tied the game for the Rangers in the top of the fourth on home run to right center field. It was only the 10th home run allowed by Parker all year.
Perez really settled down after his rough first inning and kept the A’s off balance up until the 5th. Adam Rosales led off the inning with a big double to right center, showing yet again how every member of this roster contributes on a nightly basis.
Coco would follow with a liner to left center, scoring Rosales on the play and hustling into second base. Crisp would steal third base while Gomes struck out swinging. A four pitch walk to Cespedes brought up the red hot Brandon Moss who pinch hit for Carter. Moss would hit a shallow fly ball to center scoring Crisp on the sacrifice fly on a very close play at the plate, giving the A’s the two run lead at 4-2.
Parker would be lifted in the sixth after a lead off home run by Napoli. Parker was good tonight, not great, and the most surprising part of his start was the two home runs he gave up. Parker had allowed just nine home runs in 175 1/3 innings this year, the lowest average per nine in the American League. He also had only given up two home runs to righties all year, a number the Rangers doubled tonight. All in all however, Parker pitched well enough for the A’s to get the victory. When you have the kind of bullpen the A’s have, all a starter needs to do is pitch six innings and the bullpen can handle the rest.
You can not give enough praise for this bullpen. The young pen was outstanding once again tonight, after Parker gave up the home run to Napoli to lead off the sixth, the A’s went to rookie Sean Doolittle, who this time last year was just beginning his conversion from first baseman to pitcher. He mowed down the Rangers for a perfect inning. Doolittle was followed by fellow rookie Ryan Cook who worked his slider, pitching a perfect inning of his own.
Finally it was Grant Balfour shutting things down in the 9th. He once again owned the inning like he has ever since being moved back into the closer role in the second half of the season. Balfour struck out the side, and Celebration came on over the loud speaker as the A’s went crazy on the field.
It was the most special night at the coliseum in a long time, but this is only the beginning. The A’s have two more games left at Texas and if they win them both, the A’s will win the A.L. West and be guaranteed a five game playoff series instead of a single play-in game as the wild card.
Tomorrow night Travis Blackley goes out against lefty Matt Harrison. Blackley is hoping to rebound after terrible starts his last two times out. If the A’s win tomorrow they are tied for the division lead with just a single game to go.
The A’s have played loose all year, so a celebration hangover shouldn’t be a problem.