2012 Oakland Athletics, AL WEST DIVISION CHAMPIONS
Even I, of the 86 win record prediction, just can’t believe that the Oakland Athletics just won the AL West with a convincing 12-5 victory over the Texas Rangers. Judging from the radio feed and then getting a chance to watch the game once I got home, everyone and their mother, 2nd cousin, Uncle, and deceased relatives were at the Oakland Coliseum to watch the A’s take on the Rangers on Wednesday. So many fans in fact that Tweets and notices were sent out early in the day from the box office, at around 10 am or so, that if you didn’t have a ticket by now don’t bother showing up cause the game was sold out. Now there is an entire deck of seats that were available if only the owners of the A’s just took down the terrible tarps and actually gave a damn about the fan base but that is an entirely different post for another day so back to the game.
Since I was listening to the game at work on my radio, it was a little tough to stay focused on both my work and the game but I did my best while trying not to get fired. The game felt like it would be in pretty safe hands when A.J.Griffin took the mound. He was my pick in one of our BayAreaBall Musings posts to be the guy who was tough enough to make a start like this and for an inning and a half he was. Griffin worked out of a jam in the 1st by getting Nelson Cruz to fly out in foul territory with Josh Hamilton and Andrian Beltre on 1st and 2nd.
In the bottom half of the inning the A’s were able to get on the board first with a Brandon Moss double that scored Stephen Drew from second base but the two Josh’s, Reddick and Donaldson, couldn’t push another run across. Griffin seemed to have settled down with a quick second inning but the pressure of every pitch seemed to be mounting. The A’s offense couldn’t get back on the board and had a quick 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the 2nd. Then the trouble began…
Griffin lost control of the game in the top of the 3rd, with the Rangers starting to pour on the hits. It was a steady dose of the lethal Rangers line-up started by a Ian Kinsler single that eventually led to 5 runs, Griffin leaving the game, and Evan Scribner sent in to clean up the mess. At this point I’m sure many A’s fans, especially new fans who hadn’t been watching the team all year long, were like ” Well at least I came out to a baseball game and it’s a beautiful day.” For me, I had it in my head that Scribbles aka Scribner just needed to throw up some zeros and give the A’s offense a chance to regain its composure as opposed to the quick 3 and outs that it was manufacturing up until the bottom of the 4th.
A Brandon Moss walked started the snowball, a Reddick double added to it, and a Seth Smith line drive single started it rolling down the hill. The single brought in Derek Holland who then allowed the snowball to build up steam. With 2 outs, on of the the veteran leaders of the team Coco Crisp, comes up big with a 2 out double down the right field line that ties the game at 5. Then the most improbable of things happens, Yoenis Cespedes comes up with 2 on and 2 outs and pops up. Now what happens next is the type of play that defines a late season run and the kind of play that ends up in the highlight reel because of it’s importance at propelling the team to the next round. As Josh Hamiliton settles into a jog setting himself up right under the pop up, somehow he misjudges the trajectory and BOOM, I jump out of my cubicle seat while the roar of the crowd is pumping through my little speakers at my desk. Hamilton drops the ball and 2 more runs score making the bottom of the 4th a 6 run inning and putting the A’s up 7-5.
What happens next is a typical A’s bullpen outing where Scribner ends up going for 3 scoreless innings, Jeremy Blevins comes in to face Josh Hamilton and strikes him out, then Cook, Doolittle, and Balfour come in for the 7th, 8th, and 9th to shut the door and close out the most improbable run of A’s baseball in recent history. Sure the A’s added on in the 8th to give themselves even more cushion eventually pushing the score to 12-5 but it almost felt as if they didn’t really need it because the baseball gods were shining on the A’s that day. They became AL West Division Champions and foregoing the dreaded Wild Card play in game that the Rangers eventually went on to lose to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night 5-1.
Staring a 1st round Divisional series against the Detroit Tigers will be no easy task but if I’ve learned anything about this season, it’s don’t count out the A’s to bring some magic to the yard each and every game. LET’S GO OAKLAND!!!
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