OAKLAND -- On Friday night at the Oakland Coliseum, much more than the A's winning streak was in jeopardy. In the bottom of the 12th inning, the A's were down two outfielders, without their DH spot, and starting pitcher Tommy Milone was in the batting cages -- just in case.
Coco Crisp left the game with a strained left groin, and Yoenis Cespedes was out after hurting his hand making an awkward slide. X-rays were negative on Cespedes' hand, but the team was basically on life support with no position players remaining if some one else went down.
With the A's and Tigers deadlocked at four runs apiece and the time of game ticking toward the hour of the absurd, third baseman Josh Donaldson saved the day. He was looking for a fastball and he got one that he drove opposite field over the right field wall for the A's first walk-off win of the season.
"I've been a part of this team for a little while now and experienced a lot of the magic," said Donaldson after the A's ninth consecutive win. "I've always been the guy that led up to it and it was nice to actually come through when the team needed me to."
The A's led Major League Baseball with 15 walk-off wins last season. None of them belonged to Donaldson, who still had whipped cream dripping down the side of his head when he said he was actually a little nervous as he waited for a pie-wielding Reddick to strike at any moment.
Without Crisp and Cespedes, Melvin moved first baseman Brandon Moss to left field, put Nate Freiman in at first base, and gave up the DH spot to move Chris Young to center field. The pitcher was due up in the cleanup spot of the batting order. Milone, who was by far the A's best hitting pitcher available, put on his spikes grabbed a bat and ran to the batting cages with hitting coach Chili Davis.
"I was trying to do anything I could to help. I was probably going to be more in a situation to bunt," Milone said. "Just kind of be poised up there and not let the situation get too big."
Thanks to Donaldson, Milone didn't even need to step into the on-deck circle.
"It was awesome," Milone said. "It was just incredible, I'm surprised he kept that fair. He snuck it in there."
Donaldson may have delivered the final blow, but if it wasn't for the A's bullpen he wouldn't have been put in the opportunity for heroics. The relievers held the Tigers scoreless for five innings.
Bartolo Colon started the game and went seven innings. He allowed three runs on a home run to Prince Fielder, which was the only mistake he made in the game.
The A's are now 9-2, they have the best record in the American League.