Melvin shares thoughts on last out of A's win
The Yankees finished a few feet short of tying the game with two outs in the ninth. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND -- As Travis Hafner's towering fly ball to left center field kept carrying, and A's left fielder Seth Smith kept drifting to the wall, Bob Melvin's heart did not rise to his throat in anticipation.
It did not sink to his stomach in dread either.
"It was somewhere in between," the A's manager said.
Really, where it should be. Level. Calm.
Because even as the ball stayed in the park and nestled into Smith's glove at the base of the wall, rather than flying out of it for a game-tying two-run home run with two out in the ninth, the A's won not only a game, 6-4, over the New York Yankees Tuesday night, but what felt like a game of attrition.
Consider: the A's lost left fielder Yoenis Cespedes to a "tight" left hamstring after two innings (Melvin said he thought they caught it before it worsened and that Cespedes said he thought he could continue playing), center fielder Coco Crisp, who led off the game with a second-pitch home run, aggravated a heel issue but remained in the game and Oakland, cruising with a 6-0 lead through seven innings, had to use four relievers to end things.
And even when Bartolo Colon admitted he did not have his best stuff -- he walked four batters, nearly equaling his season total of six walks entering the game -- he, and the A's survived.
"I was trying to pitch around the zone, hit the corners of the plate," Colon, who is 5-0 with a 0.75 ERA in his last five starts, said in Spanish. "But I got a little out of control at times."
Especially to Yankees No. 2 hitter Robinson Cano, who walked twice.
"Unbelievable," A's reliever Sean Doolittle, who atoned for a tough road trip with a clean 1-2-3 seventh inning, said of Colon, who improved to 8-2.
"He still gets through the sixth with no runs. That's huge."
Needless to say, it should not have been this close. Not when Colon and Doolittle hand things off in the eighth with a 6-0 lead. And when the Yankees have the tying run at the plate in Hafner, and A's closer Grant Balfour is hurling heat at him.
And yet, Balfour, the only American League closer without a blown save as he is now 16 for 16, took a page from his manager's pulse playbook. He wasn't worried it was going out either. Balfour wondered it it would bound off the wall and allow a run to score.
"Not with that certain pitch," Balfour said, without getting into specifics. "I knew it wasn't gone."
The ball was, like Melvin's heart, right where it was supposed to be -- in the right spot.