The underdog is officially on top. In a season which has defied expectations, the A’s are alive and well and headed to the postseason with the division title under their belt. In a game, that was in many ways a microcosm of this incredible season, the Athletics came together as a team and rallied from a 5-1 deficit to score 11 unanswered runs defeated the reigning division champion Texas Rangers 12-5. Capping off an incredible 3 game sweep, which finally catapulted them into sole possession of first place for the first time in 2012. The accomplishments of this team both personal and team wide are many, but perhaps none more glorious and satisfying then Oakland becoming the first team in history to overcome a 5 game deficit with only 10 games remaining to win the division. The A’s also become just the third team in history to win their division despite spending just a single day in first place. Simply amazing. There are no words really. This team is more than a Cinderella story. They’re a source of motivation for anyone whose ever been underestimated in their lives. Spit on. Discarded. Laughed at, and disrespected. This championship is pure vindication on the highest level.
Today’s game was not the cake walk you would think from the final score. Jumping to a quick 1-0 lead courtesy of a first inning double by the modern day monster known as Brandon Moss, the A’s were unable to add on despite having runners on 2nd and 3rd and only one out. From the get-go, A.J. Griffin appeared to be operating without his best stuff. Struggling with his breaking ball, Griffin held the Rangers offense scoreless through 2 but the pitches were beginning to add up and so were the runners on base. It all came apart in a third inning that saw 5 Ranger runs, 4 hits, and a costly dropped pop-up by A’s catcher George Kottaras which all conspired to chase Griffin out of the game.
At this point and time, it didn’t look good. The once silent Texas offense had woken from its slumber with a vengeance and now the A’s faced an uphill battle to avoid the potential “one and done” Wild Card Game on Friday. Fortunately for Oakland, Texas had a struggling Ryan Dempster on the mound. The former Cub had spent the better part of the second half learning that the American League hitters were not quite as forgiving as the National League as he watched his ERA skyrocket and his confidence diminish.
Seemingly feeding off the crowds energy, The A’s needed to rally to get back in the game, and rally they did. In an inning where everything clicked, the A’s tallied together 3 straight hits falling a Moss walk to pull within two of Texas. With Dempster removed from the game, Ron Washington turned to southpaw starter Derek Holland in an attempt to quell the A’s offensive attack. He would fail miserably. Coco Crisp whose return to the lineup following a week long bout with conjunctivitis has reinvigorated the team, connected on a game tying double just fall inside the right field corner. After a Stephen Drew walk, Holland appeared like he was going to get out of the inning when Yoenis Cespedes hit a lazy fly ball to center field. Showing little difficulty with the sun or wind, Josh Hamilton simply missed the catch allowing Crisp and Drew to score! It was unfathomable, unbelievable, and a little bit strange. Just like the 2012 Oakland Athletics.
In what would become a bullpen game, the A’s pitching would conquer and subdue the mighty Rangers offense. Leading the pack was the unsung hero of the day, Evan Scribner who was quick to restore order in a game that was in grave danger of getting away. Scribner threw 3 key shutout innings paving the way for the comeback and creating a bridge to Jerry Blevins, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, and Grant Balfour who shut the door on the overwhelmed Texas Rangers. Simply incredible for a journeyman reliever, and a quartet of relievers who have been pressed to the limit over the last week.
In the late innings, the A’s were able to add on thanks to a Derek Norris home run and and bases clearing hit that would make Marco Scutaro proud by Brandon Moss. All in all, it was eleven unanswered runs to top an amazing day.
Not to be forgotten is the support provided by the Oakland faithful this afternoon. Filling the stadium to the brim, and creating a chaotic atmosphere of dances, drums, and coordinated cheers they truly established themselves as the “tenth man” today and provided the push the team needed. My hat’s off to them, and to the Oakland A’s. Now bring on the Tigers. I do believe revenge is in order.