PADECKY: Crisp's error has A's facing tall task
Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 7:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 7:13 p.m.
DETROIT -- Sometime Sunday night, Coco Crisp said he doesn't know when, his mind will become a video camera and “I'll hit the replay button.” And his misery will begin afresh. He'll see himself running toward Miguel Cabrera's ball in the seventh inning Sunday afternoon. There are two outs and two runners on. If he catches it, the inning's over and the A's keep their 2-1 lead in Game 2 of the ALDS.
“I don't know if it's going to happen just before I go to sleep or after I get to sleep,” the A's centerfielder said. He said it the same way you would expect your car, low on fuel and not a station around, to run out of gas. It will happen soon or it will happen later. Your fists clench because you know it will happen.
“Obviously it's inevitable,” said Crisp, his voice sounding weary.
One doesn't make the key play of a playoff game, the one that changes everything, and then hit the delete key on the memory bank.
“I still believe it was the right decision,” Crisp said. To slide or to make a basket catch, that was his decision. He decided to make the basket catch. And in the seconds that followed the decision I came to appreciate more than ever how easy the great Willie Mays made that catch.
The fly ball hit the heel of Crisp's glove. It caromed forward and for a nano-second Crisp had it at the tip of his webbing. But, now sliding, Crisp's forward momentum shot the ball from his glove and in one last attempt, he threw out his right hand at it, like it had Velcro and somehow the ball would stick to it.
The ball dropped, Austin Jackson and Omar Infante, off with the pitch, scored two unearned runs. The A's would go on to lose, 5-4. No matter what the sport, all defeats are reduced to analysis — what coulda, shoulda been done. In Game One, Detroit's Justin Verlander threw peas up there and Oakland couldn't hit them. OK, fine, the A's didn't lose Game One; Verlander beat them. But Sunday's Game Two, this one was the other way around.
The A's didn't act like the team with the magic halo, the one that did all the right things in ending the season with six consecutive victories and the division title. Josh Reddick heaved his bat down the hallway inside the dugout tunnel, frustrated at striking out for the third time Sunday. Shortstop Stephen Drew came close to being thrown out of the game in third inning arguing a called third strike. And usually reliable reliever Ryan Cook threw a wild pitch that allowed a run to score in the eighth.
But the one play that will be replayed by more than Crisp was that drop in the seventh. The A's committed the third-most errors in the American League this year (111) but couldn't help but boast that those errors only led to 45 unearned runs, the fourth-lowest total in the league.
“I don't think I ever dropped a ball this season either sliding or with a basket catch,” Crisp said. “A hundred times out of a hundred I catch that ball ... but I guess it's not 100 times anymore.”
As if the A's needed to leave Detroit with any more baggage that Game Two provided, they had to endure the insult Tiger reliever Al Alburquerque gave them in the top of the ninth. With runners on first and second Yoenis Cespedes hit a one-hopper back to Alburquerque. As the reliever ran toward first to lob an easy toss for the third out, he looked at Cespedes and kissed the baseball.
“It was very unprofessional what he did,” Reddick said. “I didn't appreciate it at all. You can do that stuff when you're in the dugout and nobody sees it. But not on the field. (Showing up the A's) is exactly what he did.”
So the A's travel back home tasked with the chore of winning three straight against the Tigers. In Detroit, the A's showed they certainly are not up to the challenge. Closer Grant Balfour, aces of late, gave up the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. For example.
But the Coliseum is where the love will be, the players claim. And love is what they need right now. Weird, yes, they had a better record than the Tigers but had to open the ALDS with two games in Detroit. The additional wild card was added during the season and the postseason, already locked in with an immovable television contract, had to begin with as few travel days as possible to keep the rest of the schedule intact. So the 2-3 format was used instead of the usual 2-2-1.
It's a lousy deal for Oakland but, as manager Bob Melvin said, “it is what it is.” So Coco Crisp's drop and Ryan Cook's wild pitch, yeah, it is what it is. And the hole they are in, partly from their own hand, it is what it is, too.
“Don't give up on us,” Reddick said. “We're not done yet.”
Funny, that sounded more like a plea than a promise.
You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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