A's aren't ready to let this end

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A's aren't ready to let this end

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OAKLAND -- Grant Balfour didn't even pitch in Game 4, yet he still had a huge impact on the game. Facing elimination and down two runs in the ninth inning, the A's season looked to be on life support. That's when the ultra-intense closer fired up the A's dugout with a passionate speech. Four hits later the A's were on the field celebrating their 15th walk-off win of the season and seventh in A's postseason history.During the ninth inning Balfour was told to go to the bullpen to warm up. He eventually did but not before giving the A's a pep talk. "It was no disrespect to anyone but I said 'We are going to rock this guy's world tonight. We're going to walk it off in A's fashion, that's what we do," Balfour recalled. "Believe it. Every one of you put your mind to it and believe it, and see yourselves running onto that field with that walk-off victory," he told his teammates."See it and believe it," he repeated.They believed alright. As the sell-out crowd of 36,385 wondered if the A's had any magic left in them this season, the A's answered their question. Josh Reddick hit a leadoff single. Josh Donaldson doubled off the wall in left field -- just missing a game-tying home run. Seth Smith smacked a game-tying two-run double to right field. Coco Crisp then connected for the knockout blow, a walk-off RBI single to right field to give the A's a 4-3 win. "I believe in the mind as a powerful thing," Balfour said. "It was unbelievable. If you really want something bad enough and you've got every guy in the dugout that wants it and he's thinking the same thing and believes it, it just goes to show."Maybe what the A's are accomplishing isn't magic. They are just insanely determined, and a little ignorant.
RATTO: A's are more than just magic
"We've heard a lot of people say we aren't smart enough to know when to lose a game like most people do," Josh Reddick said. "We've been battling to the 27th out all year and we are not going to stop now." Reddick said he took the brunt of Balfour's rage in the dugout before he led off the ninth inning with a single. Maybe he needed the abuse. Reddick struck out in his first two plate appearances running his strikeout total in this series up to eight -- the most by any A's hitter in a single playoff series. "He was hitting me and hugging me and all that crazy stuff he usually does," Reddick said. "He kept telling us 'We aren't going to lose this game. We aren't going to lose this game.' We firmly believe in that." "A two-run deficit isn't enough to hold us right now," Reddick added. The A's often say they don't quit until the final out. It's hard to doubt them at this point. This game was all Tigers until the sixth inning. Detroit's starting pitcher Max Scherzer struck out eight and had the A's hitters baffled. When Oakland finally got on they made a seemingly crippling mistake. Stephen Drew doubled home Crisp in the sixth with no outs but got thrown out at third by several steps as he tried to make it to third. A's third base coach Mike Gallego didn't put on the stop sign. At that point it was a 2-1 game and Drew would have been the tying runner with Yoenis Cespedes due up. "It wasn't a good call, it wasn't a good play," Gallego said. "I felt that I couldn't have stopped him either. If I would have stopped him I would have gotten him hung out to dry in the middle of the base paths." It seems there's always a moment like that that unravels the A's in the playoffs. The moment where Jeremy Giambi doesn't slide in 2001, or when Eric Byrnes doesn't touch the plate in 2003. It looked like Gallego would be the scapegoat for the A's getting eliminated. Things looked even more bleak when the Tigers added a run in the eighth off reliever Sean Doolittle. The 2012 A's aren't phased by these things. In the end, the play and the Tigers' insurance run didn't mean a thing as the A's got the last laugh in the bottom of the ninth. "It's huge, it's playoff baseball," Donaldson said. "We're down to our last three outs right there. For me to come through right there the amount of emotion going through me right there was just uncontainable at the time."Like Balfour, Donaldson was so fired up after the game that he didn't flinch when asked if he was going to sleep tonight. "I'm not," he said. Crisp might have sweet dreams. He was still sticky from the postgame pie and Gatorade after the game when he addressed the media. A veteran in more ways than one, at this point he is used to taking the brunt of the A's celebratory dessert. He is responsible for four of the A's 15 walk-offs. "There's certainly guys we feel good about," Melvin said. "But I don't think there's anybody we feel better about in that situation than Coco."The A's live to fight another day again. After dropping the first two games of the series in Detroit they will play a win-or-go-home fifth game here at the Coliseum on Thursday night. One thing is clear, they aren't ready to go home. Not if Balfour has anything to say about it. "I want it so bad," Balfour said. "I know everyone in here wants it so bad. I didn't want to go home tonight. No chance."The A's have now won back-to-back elimination games for the second time in Athletics history. The last time they did it was in the 1973 World Series when they ended up beating the Mets after trailing 3-2. If the A's can continue their improbable run they will have to defeat reigning American League MVP and Cy Young award-winner Justin Verlander. He is 3-0 against the A's this season. Jarrod Parker will get the ball for the A's.

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory

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NEW YORK -- Wilmer Flores hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the New York Mets rallied from an early five-run deficit to beat the Oakland Athletics 6-5 Saturday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Pinch-hitter Lucas Duda delivered a tying single with two outs in the eighth off left-hander Daniel CoulombeJay Bruce hit a two-run homer in the sixth to begin New York's comeback, and Jose Reyes tripled twice.

Flores connected on a 96 mph fastball from Simon Castro (0-1), sending a line drive to left field for the second game-ending homer of his career. That sent a frenzied crowd of 39,629 home happy - hours after fans lined up early in the heat outside Citi Field to get their Noah Syndergaard as Thor bobbleheads.

Matt Joyce hit a leadoff home run and Matt Chapman added a prodigious shot for Oakland, which scored four in the first off struggling Mets starter Zack Wheeler.

Sean Manaea took a shutout into the sixth but then wilted after throwing a career-high 115 pitches Sunday in his previous start, a win against Cleveland.

Hansel Robles (6-1) tossed a hitless inning to win for the second straight day.

MAN ON THE MOVE:
With Mets second baseman Neil Walker nearing a return from the disabled list, perhaps Monday in San Diego, Asdrubal Cabrera made his first major league start at third and played flawless defense after working out at the position once. Cabrera's only previous appearance at the hot corner came during his rookie season in 2007 with Cleveland. "He's a middle infielder who's going to play third base. Got great hands, great arm. He'll be fine," manager Terry Collins said. Cabrera initially balked at shifting from shortstop to second when he came off the DL about a month ago.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Athletics: Ryon Healy had a pinch-hit single after getting hit near the left temple by a bad-hop grounder Friday night. Healy went through the concussion protocol and was cleared, manager Bob Melvin said. ... Melvin said he would have news after the game regarding RHP Jharel Cotton, on the DL since July 4 with a blister on his right thumb. Cotton threw a bullpen Friday. Oakland needs a starter for Monday night at Toronto. ... INF-OF Chad Pinder (strained left hamstring) homered Friday on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville and could come off the DL when Oakland begins a homestand next weekend. "That's kind of the target area," Melvin said.

Mets: Walker (left hamstring) went 1 for 3 with Triple-A Las Vegas at Memphis in the first game of rehab assignment. The switch-hitter has been on the DL since June 15. ... LHP Josh Smoker threw a scoreless sixth in his first outing since coming off the disabled list Thursday. Smoker had been sidelined since June 14 with a strained left shoulder.

UP NEXT:
Oakland rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett (1-5, 5.79 ERA) makes his eighth career start in Sunday's series finale against RHP Rafael Montero (1-6, 5.40). Gossett has given up 10 homers in 37 1/3 innings after yielding only four in 60 2/3 innings at Triple-A.

Healy exits early, Blackburn suffers first loss with A's

Healy exits early, Blackburn suffers first loss with A's

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NEW YORK — Michael Conforto hit a pair of two-run homers and Jerry Blevins rescued the Mets' bullpen with a five-out save as New York held off the Oakland Athletics 7-5 on Friday night for its third straight victory.

T.J. Rivera put the Mets ahead in the sixth inning with a two-run single that turned into a Little League home run. Rivera came all the way around to score on the play after third baseman Matt Chapman, trying to get Rivera at second, threw the ball away into right field for a costly error that made it 5-3.

Moments earlier, New York loaded the bases when Lucas Duda's bad-hop infield single struck first baseman Ryon Healy near the temple. Healy left the game and walked off under his own power with a swollen bruise next to his left eye.

Conforto's second homer made it 7-3 in the seventh. Oakland rallied for two in the eighth, but Blevins replaced closer Addison Reed with the bases loaded and got five straight outs against his former team for his fifth major league save and first this season.

Normally a lefty specialist, Blevins recorded five outs in a game for the first time since 2014 with Washington. He retired All-Star slugger Yonder Alonso on a foul popup and struck out Khris Davis to escape the eighth-inning jam.

"We just tried to find some matchups that worked," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Yoenis Cespedes had three hits after raising eyebrows when he told the San Francisco Chronicle before the game that he wants to play the final season of his career in Oakland, his first big league team.

Cespedes, who signed a $110 million, four-year contract in the offseason to remain with the Mets, also said A's manager Bob Melvin is his favorite skipper and he doesn't think there's a better one.

"Bob's a great manager. I don't blame him," Collins said after the game. "This is the first I've heard of it."

After the game, Cespedes clarified his comments while speaking with reporters through a translator and said he meant no disrespect toward Collins or the Mets.