A's won't change approach heading into must-win game

October 8, 2012, 11:24 pm
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OAKLAND Youll forgive the As if they have to leanheavily on clichs to explain their mindset heading into a must-win Game 3 ofthe American League Division Series.A lot of people preach one game at a time but weveactually done it all year, injured third baseman Brandon Inge said. Weregoing to come out firing and play exactly the same way.Down 0-2 in a best-of-five series following two losses in Detroit, the Asclubhouse is as loose as its been all year with players optimistic that bytaking it one game at a time, this team can defy the odds.Were really not going to play the game tomorrow anydifferent than we did in the ones to get here, Jonny Gomes said.Gomes also explained that the As have the benefit of a short memory.After the first bus, maybe 30 minutes, Gomes said when asked how long it tookthe team to get over Sundays walk-off loss to the Tigers. Weve had aboutfour or five season-ending losses.Gomes specifically mentioned the As 10-9 14-inning loss to the Yankees in NewYork on Sept. 22, a day after another extra-inning loss to the Bronx Bombers.The As went on to win nine of their next 11 contests.
The problem now is Oaklandcant afford to win even X-1 of their next X games. They are faced with thetough task of winning three straight to overcome an 0-2 series hole, somethingthey have never done in franchise history.But the long odds dont seem to faze Gomes, his teammates, or his skipper BobMelvin.I know 25 plus guys and a manager that say panic doesnt exist, Gomes said.
RATTO: A's philosophy -- 'Why the hell not?'
The clubhouse consensus was that the As wouldnt changetheir approach despite their backs being against the wall. That includes apromise that Oaklands hitters wont be choking up to avoid the gaudy strikeouttotals that have carried over from the regular season to the playoffs. After setting an American League record with 1,387strikeouts in 162 games, the As went straight from the batters box to thevisitors dugout in Detroit a whopping 23 times in the two losses. Granted,they did take on 2011 AL pitching Triple Crown winner Justin Verlander and DougFister, who made history when he struck out nine consecutive batters during theregular season.
For Gomes, the strikeouts are an understandable product of ayoung power-hitting club.
Weve got some young hitters; some of these guys were bornin the late 80s, Gomes said. If you look at offensive stats from June on,the strikeouts are obviously there. But you cant let the negative outweigh thepositive. And the positive is weve outscored our opponents outside of theselast two games.Josh Reddick, born in 1987, struck out 151 times but hit 32home runs during the regular season. He racked up six strikeouts in his firstsix postseason at-bats, but snapped that slump with a go-ahead home run Sundayin Detroit.Ive got to bear down and put more balls in play, Reddicksaid, adding that his late home run in Game 2 will hopefully get him back ontrack. It was huge. I hope with that ball itll give me a little boost inconfidence.Melvin said he is not overly concerned with the strikeoutsand doesnt plan on telling his hitters to change their approach at the plate.Well continue to swing the bats like we have, Melvin said. Were one swingaway from driving in a couple runs here in this ballpark. Its worked well forus. Its not like the last day youre going to say today lets work on cuttingout swing down and choke up two inches on two strikes. Were going to play whatgot us here.What got the As to the ALDS is a lot of big swings, some of which lead to longballs and many of which end up for strikeouts. Even in the division-winningsweep of the Texas Rangers, the As struck out 22 times in three victories. Weve proven we can come here and sweep good teams, closerGrant Balfour said, referring to the season-ending series with the Rangers.Were in a similar situation again so why not do it again Most things thatare rewarding dont come easy.