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.
Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.
It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.