The more things change, the more they stay the same. With the A’s making their first postseason appearance in six years, many fans had hope that the success of this amazing season would carry over into the divisional series against Detroit. Unfortunately, The Tigers have capitalized on a smattering of Oakland mental and physical errors as well as some bad luck and have spotted themselves a 2-0 lead in the best of 5 series. With their backs against the wall, I can’t help but recall the last time the A’s were in the playoffs. Of course, I speak of the 2006 ALCS which watched the A’s spectacularly fall in four games and cause a whole new generation of A’s fans to wince every time they hear the term “walk-off home run”. The mental anguish has not subsided, and thanks to MLB’s glorious”written in the stars” promo that aired during last seasons postseason the very sight of Magglio Ordonez blasting a Huston Street fastball will likely live in infamy for the time being.
As the A’s lost both games over the weekend, the end result brought back unappealing comparisons to 2006. Suddenly Avisail Garcia, an otherwise nondescript outfielder was coming up big for the Detroit Tigers throwing Coco Crisp out at the plate in Game 2. While many of us scratched our heads are the mere mentioning of his name, it harkened back to another under the radar Tiger outfielder by the name of Alexis Gomez who plagued the A’s with a crucial home run and 4 RBI’s in Game 2 of the ALCS. A pair of players, whom most baseball fans wouldn’t be able to identity in a police line-up had suddenly cemented a name for themselves in Tigers lore at the expense of the Athletics.
Who could forget second baseman Placido Polanco simply terrorizing the A’s during that same series? Hitting an astronomical .529 and seemingly on-base each and every time the Tigers started a rally, he easily netted the ALCS Most Valuable Player award for his offensive performance. While current second baseman Omar Infante may not duplicate Polanco’s lofty batting average, he nevertheless has continued to be a thorn in the A’s side. Infante has helped sparked his team and has scored 3 of the Tigers 8 runs thus far, keeping him off base for the remainder of the series we’ll be an essential key for Oakland’s survival.
If there is one lasting positive memory of 2006, it would have to be sheer tenacity and will to win, Milton Bradley exuded during Oakland’s final bow. While many will say what they’ll say about Bradley and his issues, A’s fans who watched him play can completely agree that his passion was in the right place during that series. As Oakland’s best hitter, Bradley hit a clean .500 while clubbing 2 homers in Game 2. He also topped the A’s with 5 RBI’s in 4 games, and was easily the team’s most productive player picking up Frank Thomas who failed to record a hit in 13 at bats. While Yoenis Cespedes may not match Bradley’s numbers or display the same anger, it’s easy to see that he is completely unfazed by anything thrown his way. During Sunday’s game, Cespedes daringly manufacturing the tying run in the 8th inning stealing 2nd and 3rd before coming home on a wild pitch. For the series, Cespedes is batting .375 and fans everywhere are awaiting his next duel with Al Alburquerque.
The A’s need to change the script. With Sunday’s lost they are now 0-6 in their last 6 postseason games, and this cannot stand. The change starts tonight. Brett Anderson will take the mound in front of a sold out home audience, for first time in 6 years the A’s will play a postseason game in the Coliseum. It’s time to win or go home.