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.

The Twins didn’t listen to CC Sabathia’s wishes concerning bunting

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Earlier this month, Yankees starter CC Sabathia jawed at the Red Sox after Eduardo Nunez laid down a bunt. Sabathia fielded it fine, but threw the ball away for an error. After the game, he called Nunez’s bunt “weak” and said the Red Sox should “swing the bat.” Sabathia, of course, is not that limber these days. Along with being 37 years old, the lefty has also battled knee and hamstring issues this season.

The Twins apparently didn’t hear what Sabathia had to say about bunting. After Brian Dozier singled off of Sabathia to lead off the top of the first inning on Tuesday, Joe Mauer laid down a bunt on the third base side and reached safely. Jorge Polanco then laid down a bunt of his own, also on the third base side, and was initially ruled out, but after replay review was ruled safe to load the bases with no outs.

Fortunately for Sabathia, he was able to limit the damage, getting Eduardo Escobar to ground into a run-scoring 6-4-3 double play and inducing an inning-ending ground out from Byron Buxton. It’ll be interesting, though, to see if the Twins continue to bunt against Sabathia throughout the night.

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.