Josh Donaldson's defensive miscue key to A's' downfall
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 11:01 p.m.
OAKLAND — As dominant as Justin Verlander was against the A's on Thursday, nothing after Miguel Cabrera's fourth-inning homer seemed to matter much. In a closer game, analysts might have been picking over a play that went awry in the sixth.
Leading 2-0, the Tigers had runners at the corners with one out when Detroit's Omar Infante hit a sharp hopper to third base. Josh Donaldson went to his knees to get the ball, and it looked like he had time to get runner Victor Martinez at home plate. But Donaldson took a calculated risk and threw to second base, hoping to initiate a double play. His throw was a bit low, and second baseman Alberto Callaspo bobbled it; he got the out there, but was unable to relay the ball to first, and Martinez scored.
Afterward, A's manager Bob Melvin did his best to absolve Donaldson.
“When you hit the ball that hard, you have a chance for a double play,” Melvin said. “The throw was a little low in the dirt, Callaspo had to pick it. But no, I don't fault him for that. I think when the ball was hit as hard as it was and where he was positioned, you expect him to turn a double play.”
MELVIN, LEYLAND PLAY CHESS
Both managers shook up the lineups a bit for crucial Game 5. To no one's surprise, they favored the hot hands.
Melvin moved Yoenis Cespedes, one of the few Oakland batters who has been putting the bat on the ball in this American League Division Series, to the cleanup spot, and moved struggling Josh Reddick down to the No. 8 position.
“There are times with Brandon Moss being a 30-homer guy, I try to insulate him in between a couple of righties. But Cespedes swinging as well as he is right now, I just wanted to move him up a spot,” Melvin explained.
Cespedes wound up with one of Oakland's three hits against the Tigers.
Perhaps more significant, the A's went with Callaspo at second base. Eric Sogard had started the first four games there, but was hitless in nine at-bats. Callaspo came into the game with a double in three at-bats.
“I think like any game, particularly in the postseason, particular in a Game 5, you're looking to try to get your best lineup, your hottest hitters up there as much as times as you can," Melvin said.
For Detroit, shortstop Jose Iglesias became the odd man out. He had started the first four games at shortstop, while Jhonny Peralta, Don Kelly and Andy Dirks split time in left field. Thursday, Kelly was in left while Peralta started at shortstop for the first time since he returned from a 50-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal.
SEA OF YELLOW
They may gather in a decrepit, occasionally plumbing-challenged stadium, but A's fans once again proved they are among the most ardent in Major League Baseball.
“I absolutely think it's a home-field advantage," relief pitcher Dan Otero said of playing at the Coliseum, a facility A's ownership would love to abandon. “The fans are absolutely insane in a good way for us. They're rockin' from pitch one. Even in Game 1 when we went down 3-0, they didn't get quiet, and I think that's awesome.”
Yoenis Cespedes has played 10 postseason games, and has hit safely in all of them. It's the third-longest streak in A's history. . . . Former pitcher Dave Stewart threw out the first pitch before Game 5. He's no stranger to the Coliseum mound in October. Stewart won eight postseason games for the A's between 1988 and 1992. . . . Detroit's Austin Jackson tied an ALDS record with 13 strikeouts, including three Thursday.
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