A’s rally for three runs in the ninth, ALDS moves to Game 5

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There’s something special about these Athletics.

That became apparent throughout the 2012 regular season, and it continued on Wednesday night at Oakland’s O.Co Coliseum with the unlikely American League West champions facing elimination from the ALDS in front of a raucous sold-out home crowd.

Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer surrendered just three hits and one (unearned) run over 5 1/3 innings, fanning eight batters while giving up only one walk. And a foursome of Detroit relievers behind him would keep the A’s scoreless until the bottom of the ninth. That’s when it all shifted back toward the magical, mystical A’s.

Tigers closer Jose Valverde allowed a Josh Reddick leadoff single and a Josh Donaldson double, then Seth Smith shot a ball into the gap in right field to score them both. Valverde rallied back for two consecutive outs, but Coco Crisp smacked a ball into shallow right that plated Smith for the winning run.

Oakland wound up on top, 4-3, forcing a winner-take-all Game 5 to be played on Thursday night.

It will be Tigers ace Justin Verlander against A’s youngster Jarrod Parker. The matchup surely favors Detroit on paper, but you’d be foolish to think that matters at all at this point. Game on.

Joe Maddon: “I have a defensive foot fetish.”

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The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.

Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.

Well then.

The Nationals have scored 62 runs during four Joe Ross starts

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If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.

Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.

Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.

Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.