OAKLAND -- Three well traveled rookies and a wily veteran helped topple the best team in baseball 2-1 on Saturday night at the Oakland Coliseum. Each of those four players' stories are so unlikely that you'd think we made them up. We'll start where it ended on Saturday night. With 25-year-old rookie reliever Sean Doolittle -- who notched his first career save. Doolittle was drafted as a first baseman, struggled with injuries and was converted to a pitcher. Nearly as quick as his 95-mph fastball rips through the strike zone, Doolittle blasted through the Minor Leagues in just 16 games.
As he stepped on the mound seeking his first career save Saturday night, the rookie first-baseman-turned-pitcher was asked to stare down four hitters with a combined 25 All-Star appearances, who account for 67.5M of the Yankees payroll. Alex Rodriguez hit a leadoff single, and then the left-handed pitcher responded by striking out the side.
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The legend of Sean Doolittle continues."That's really impressive, talk about coming along way," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "And now he closes a game out against the Yankees, that's a goose-bump type of thing."Doolittle pitched the ninth inning because closer Ryan Cook -- also a rookie -- had worked in three consecutive days. He got Robinson Cano swinging on a 94-mph fastball, Mark Teixeira looking on a 94-mph fastball, and Andruw Jones swinging on a 94-mph fastball. "Wow," Doolittle said in reflection of what transpired. "It still hasn't sunk in yet. It was mentioned to me before I even got back up here that at this time last year I wasn't, like, pitching to hitters." "Looking back on where I've been and where I am now, it makes it that much more special," he said. Speaking of unlikely success stories, there's A's starting pitcher Jarrod Parker who got his seventh win tonight. Parker had "Tommy John" surgery in 2009 and missed the entire 2010 season. He had to battle his way back to the Major Leagues and he has undoubtedly arrived in Oakland. He held the team with the best record in baseball to one run over eight innings of work. "Boy, Jarrod was so good," Melvin said. "Changeup really good. Only walked one guy. That's really the way you have to pitch against the Yankees."
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What makes the three wins the A's have in this series even more remarkable is the fact all three games were started by rookie pitchers. The three rookies allowed a combined three runs and just one walk over those three games. "Every time out we are trying to one up each other," Parker said. "It sets the tone as the starting staff." As Parker finished the eighth inning the game was tied at one. Then another unbelievable thing happened. Third baseman Brandon Inge made a bold prediction."Inge told me I'm going to get you one here," Parker said. "And he did it." Inge stepped to the plate and clubbed the go-ahead home run off Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes. The shot hit the concrete facing of the bleachers over the high wall in right center. Inge was released by the Detroit Tigers this year. The A's essentially picked him up off the scrap heap and here he is helping the team win. "In this clubhouse we're having a blast right now," Inge said. "I think that's leading to a lot of the way we are playing on the field." Inge is only hitting .200, but when he does get hits -- they are important ones. He has nine homers and 42 RBIs in 64 games this year. "Just when I think about maybe a bunt or doing something different with him he gets a hit like that," Melvin said. Then there's the story of Yoenis Cespedes. A Cuban-born phenom that escaped his home country of Cuba to chase his dream of playing Major League Baseball. In the last year he has gone from Cuba, to the Dominican Republic, to Phoenix, Arizona, to Tokyo, to Oakland.After all of that, he is hitting .306 against the best competition in the world. His fourth-inning home run was launched like a missile and landed like an asteroid deep in the left field bleachers -- coincidentally, it landed right under a Cuban flag."The most important thing is to be concentrated in what you have to do," Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "In Cuba it was the same thing. We traveled a lot over there too. But not so long like this year. I try to work, be concentrated all the time and do the best that I can do." Cespedes by the way is also a rookie. He has a career-high nine-game hitting streak and is 7 for 10 with two homers and three RBIs in this series against the Yankees. If anyone was overlooking Cespedes on the national landscape it's safe to say the secret is out."He's a terrific talent and a great hitter," Melvin said. "I don't want to say he's getting more confident because he is about as confident as you can get. I think he's just understanding the league more and making adjustments quicker." The stories of the A's key contributors seem like they've leaped out of the pages of a Hollywood screenplay. They are almost too good to be true. Fans can't wait to flip the pages as the the story is unfolding. It sounds corny, but studios love a good sequel and it feels like we are watching Moneyball 2. With the A's 13-2 July record they are pacing Major League Baseball. At 50-44 they are a season-high six games over .500. They've already taken three games of a four game set with the New York Yankees. Stay tuned.