We all knew that the A’s were going to have a tough time with the bats tonight against Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer, and that they did. But this is a team that will never say die, to steal a term from the San Jose Earthquakes, and they hung in there and clawed back from a 3-0 deficit to force extra innings. Josh Donaldson came up in the bottom of the 12th inning, as the A’s were out of position players and Chris Resop scheduled to hit eventually, and he shot a 1-0 fastball from Brayan Villareal into the right field barbecue terrace to send the fans home happy. It’s April 12th, and the Athletics have marked their first tally in the walk off column.
It was an interesting game as a whole, the team struggled to make contact versus Max Scherzer as can be expected. He struck out 11 A’s in his 6 innings of work, and the A’s struck out a total of 17 times during tonights 12 inning affair. But some aggressive baserunning on the part of Eric Sogard, which led to an error by Scherzer on a stolen base attempt that ultimately scored Sogard for the A’s first run. A couple basehits in succession by Jed Lowrie and Josh Reddick put the A’s within a run of the Tigers. It was a Josh Donaldson double that set up Coco Crisp to tie the game with an RBI single in the 7th inning.
Bartolo Colon has been a question mark thus far, as the uncertainty of his performance post-PED loomed large, but so far Colon has done his job. In his two starts thus far, Colon has not walked a single batter, and his ability to throw strikes has made him able to get batters out. He made one mistake to Prince Fielder for a 3 run home run in the 3rd inning, but limited the damage to just that one swing of the bat. Prince Fielder was signed to a $200+ million contract to do exactly that so chalk that up to one of the best home run hitters in the game doing what he’s paid to do. Colon pitched 7 innings all told, allowing 8 hits, the 3 ER on the Fielder homer, and 5 strikeouts.
The bullpen locked the Tigers offense down for 5 innings, the combination of Sean Doolittle, Grant Balfour, Ryan Cook, Jerry Blevins, and Chris Resop allowed just 4 hits over that span without walking a batter either. Blevins dodged a bullet in the 12th when Ramon Santiago‘s fly ball banged off the left field out-of-town scoreboard just inches from the side where the ball would have been a home run. It went for a triple, and Chris Resop got the final out of the inning to preserve the tie. When things are going your way, that’s the kind of breaks you get.
Tonight’s victory didn’t come without it’s price as Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes had to leave the game with injuries. According to Bob Melvin in his postgame press conference on CSN California Crisp tweaked his groin muscle at some point during the game and is day-to-day, Cespedes injured his hand during an awkward slide on a stolen base attempt at second base. He had x-rays taken that were negative, no timetable was given for his return to the lineup. Brandon Moss moved to left field, and Chris Young came in to play center field after being in the DH spot, which put the pitchers spot into the lineup batting cleanup. Thankfully we didn’t have to see Chris Resop take any hacks at the plate tonight. Hopefully the injuries are minor, but the A’s are well equipped to weather the storm if they aren’t.
Tomorrow afternoon the A’s will reunite with their 2012 ALDS nemesis Justin Verlander (1-1, 2.19 ERA) as Brett Anderson (1-1, 1.38 ERA) takes the hill for the Athletics. With tonight’s win and 9th in a row, a victory against Verlander would be huge for the Athletics as they continue to exorcise the demons of the 2012 ALDS.