OAKLAND -– The adrenaline seemed to still be rushing through Bob Melvin’s veins as he addressed the media after Saturday’s game.
He did his best to rehash his argument with home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott after the day’s most controversial play, only he couldn’t quite be certain of the details. The A’s manager finally found the words to sum up his feelings.
“A win’s a win, so we’ll take it,” Melvin said.
The A’s wound up taking their fifth consecutive victory, this one a 2-1 thriller over the Boston Red Sox that ended with Coco Crisp’s walk-off single to score Alberto Callaspo in the 10th inning.
It was a game that would have left a very bitter taste had they lost it.
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With a runner on third in the top of the eighth, A’s reliever Luke Gregerson thought he had an inning-ending strikeout of Mike Napoli. It was ruled by Wolcott to be a foul tip that hit the dirt, extending the at-bat. Gregerson bounced a wild pitch on the very next offering, and Dustin Pedroia scored to tie it 1-1.
“He tipped it and I caught it (in the air),” said A’s catcher Stephen Vogt, and the replay seemed to back him up. “I wasn’t even worried about it. Then I heard (Wolcott) say ‘Foul ball.’”
After the third out, Melvin shot out of the dugout and gave Wolcott an earful, earning an ejection on a play where it appeared the A’s clearly got a raw deal.
But here’s the upshot of the whole episode. It could have led to the A’s downfall Saturday. Instead, they transformed their dejection into another walk-off fiesta for the home fans.
The A’s lead the majors in runs scored. They lead in ERA and run differential. But there’s also an intangible element that can’t be quantified, and it’s played a big part in the A’s crafting their major league-best 47-28 record.
“No matter what happens, we forget about it and move on,” Vogt said.
However, Napoli’s strikeout-that-wasn’t-a-strikeout brings up the question of whether such a play needs to be made eligible for replay review. After the umpires gathered to discuss the play, Melvin was told that the call was a foul tip that hit the dirt before Vogt caught it, and that there was nothing conclusive to overturn it in the umpires’ viewpoint.
“My feeling is if it’s a play that needs to be reviewed, you should be able to review it,” Melvin said. “But you can’t on that one.”
That controversy didn’t take away from what happened next. Gregerson threw a 2-2 pitch in the dirt that bounced several feet in front of Vogt. Pedroia, at third base, made a daring sprint for home and dove in head-first with the tying run.
That decision drew admiration from Crisp, a former teammate of Pedroia’s with the Red Sox.
“It’s special to watch him,” Crisp said. “Plays like that, from the opposing side, you wish he would never do. It’s pretty ballsy. To have the guts to pull it off is pretty special. I just wish he’d stay put next time.”
For the second day in a row, Crisp was a hero. He singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of Friday’s 4-3 win. Batting left-handed against Koji Uehara on Saturday, he drove the first pitch from the Red Sox closer into right field and scored Callaspo from second. Lefties came in 5-for-56 against Uehara this season.
A’s starter Jesse Chavez wound up being an unsung hero Saturday, as his seven shutout innings became a footnote after the Napoli controversy.
But Crisp made sure Nick Punto also got credit for dropping the sacrifice bunt that moved Callaspo into scoring position in the 10th even as the Sox knew a bunt was coming.
“I wish there were (offensive) assists in this game,” Crisp said. “That’d definitely be one heck of an assist.”
In a season that’s beginning to resemble something pretty special, the A’s always have plenty of players worthy of assists.