A's aren't ready to let this end

A's aren't ready to let this end
October 11, 2012, 7:30 am
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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.
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"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.

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