Coco Crisp: From goat to hero

Coco Crisp: From goat to hero
October 10, 2012, 5:22 am
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OAKLAND -- Coco Crisp had a lousy Sunday, so he was delighted to learn that there would be a Monday. Then he hit the lottery on Tuesday, meaning hes pretty much broken even for Wednesday.

Crisp, who double-bobbled a fly ball in Detroit to help speed the Tigers to a 2-0 lead in this American League Division Series, ski-mask-stole Game 3 Tuesday in Oakland, 2-0, with an extraordinary catch of a Prince Fielder home run. Extraordinary, because it became the difference between Oakland pitcher Brett Anderson being on the ropes in the second inning, and getting to pitch the six-inning masterwork he actually threw.

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So just as Crisp violently jerked the series toward Detroit two days earlier, he yanked it part of the way back Tuesday. And life . . . well, it was okay.

Yeah, you do lose some confidence after a play like that, the As center fielder said. It does weigh on you. But to be able to make a play like that and help your team, it kind of resets everything.

Crisp broke with the loud report of Fielders bat on a 1-2 slider and raced toward the Xfinity (reality meets corporate plus) sign just to the right of the center field gate, leaped in stride, caught the ball a good foot over the eight-foot wall, and came down on the warning track, first to nervous silence, and then to an enormous roar from the sellout crowd at Oakland TarpnCarp Coliseum.

It started fading on me at the last moment, Crisp said, but I just felt like I was in stride with it the whole way, and it was one of those all-in-one plays. But I have to say, he hit the (urine) out of that ball.

Whatever effluent the ball may or may not have produced, it was a highlight, to be sure, but what made it more important was the fact that Delmon Young and Jhonny (CQ) Peralta followed with singles that almost certainly would have forced manager Bob Melvin to get his bullpen into action five innings before he ultimately had to. It changed the mood, the tone, and the direction of the game, as surely as his horrific bobble on Miguel Cabreras blooper changed Game 2.

It certainly revivified Anderson, who worked his way out of the YoungPeralta jam and gave up no other hits, leaving the tidying up to the CDB Line (Ryan) Cook, (Sean) Doolittle and (Grant) Balfour.

And despite Oaklands own meager offensive output against Anibal Sanchez (two runs, five hits), they remain in play for Wednesdays all-in with Max Scherzer facing A.J. Griffin.

For that, they can thank Crisp more than anyone else, for he also opened Oaklands scoring with a ground single to right, advancing to second on a Stephen Drew walk and scoring on Yoenis Cespedes single up the spine of the diamond. Between that play and his Fielder-robbing spectacular, the front of his jersey had the equivalent of a preschool sandbox.

And a very happy bearer therein.

Im glad we did have another game, because it would have been very hard to go home with that one as the last thing you did, he said. Im glad I was able to change the game for the good.

Indeed, Crisp changed his season for the good after a hideous start, exacerbated by his reluctance to enjoy the benefits of left field. He had been moved there to accommodate Cespedes, but he did fully embrace the relocation, and when Melvin decided to swap the two, both benefited Crisp almost immediately, Cespedes within a few weeks.

And suddenly the Oakland outfield was one of the best defensive units in the game, which it is today. Fielder, in fact, was robbed at glove point twice, the second time to start the seventh, when Cespedes made a diving catch in front of him to rob the Tiger first baseman of a bloop single that might have changed Cooks inning. Young struck out, but Peralta singled to center, which could have either forced Melvins hand again or turned into a rally that, in a 2-0 game, could have been its own game-changer.

But Crisp needed the heros role more, because he had done his time as the miscreant. That his stay in the pooch hut last barely two days is one more metaphor for a team that takes bad news in stride and turns it into a Happy Fizzies party the next chance it gets.

That doesnt get them out of this particular piece of the forest yet, but this series wont be Coco Crisps to wear. At least not yet.

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