Marcos Breton: Max Scherzer silences A's, makes Game 2 a must-win
10/05/2013 12:00 AM
10/06/2013 6:21 PM
OAKLAND – This was a kind of loud that roiled the intestines and damaged the ears. It was primal and as intimidating as any crowd can be while waving cheap yellow towels.
The return of playoff baseball to Oakland on Friday night certainly deserved a better showcase than the dump that is the former Oakland Coliseum. And it deserved a better outcome than a game that was essentially over after the first inning, a frustrating 3-2 loss by the A's to the opportunistic Detroit Tigers. With it, the Detroiters secured a key 1-0 lead in a best-of-five American League Division Series where road wins are enormous.
But when a seething A's fan base found a release late in the game? When A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes connected and sent a pitch soaring into the left-field pavilion?
The East Bay earth practically shook.
Cespedes' two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh broke the spell of dominance over the A's by Tigers starter Max Scherzer, the best pitcher in the American League all season.
The blast by the hulking Cuban defector was only the third A's hit off Scherzer all night. Save for an excuse-me infield hit by A's designated hitter Brandon Moss just before Cespedes came up, the only other A's hit was a second-inning triple by Cespedes.
With the exception of dynamic leadoff man Coco Crisp, who walked three times, virtually all other A's hitters were completely overmatched by Scherzer and the Tigers relievers who followed him.
A's first baseman Daric Barton, the former longtime River Cat who resurrected his career to be here, struck out three times and let two balls get through him at first that he normally puts away.
Moss struck out three times. Right fielder Josh Reddick looked lost at the plate, striking out three times. Third baseman Josh Donaldson struck out twice.
When Cespedes struck out in the ninth for the second out, nearly all the air went out of the place.
Then it was done when Reddick was the obvious victim to end it.
During the regular season, the A's would simply tip their caps to Scherzer and move on. But in the divisional series format, losing at home in Game 1 means the A's are in a hole.
It means tonight is a must-win for Oakland if it is to avoid going to Detroit for a potential two games when a single loss means it's time to go home.
This A's team doesn't want to go home and neither do the more than 48,000 who packed an old yard ruined by the return of NFL and the passage of time.
The hideous tarps that A's owners typically use to cover third-level seats were removed and filled with Oakland's biggest baseball crowd in nearly a decade.
What an unbelievable sound they made during pregame introductions. What an unbelievable sound they made to start the ninth inning.
A's fans made the surrounding special, but Scherzer was even more special. His curveball was devastating, and he mixed speeds on his fastball with lethal efficiency.
It's not that A's starter Bartolo Colon was bad. He wasn't. Tigers hitters pounced on his proclivity for throwing mostly fastballs and scratched out three runs that held up.
Try as they might, A's fans couldn't change the narrative to match the stirring comebacks of last year's A's-Tigers playoff series.
Now tonight, the A's enter this dump back on their heels.
The A's will face Justin Verlander, another dominant right-hander who almost single-handedly eliminated them last season.
A season and an against-all-odds A's ethic are on the line.
There are no more games to spare.
Call The Bee's Marcos Breton (916) 321-1096.
About This BlogHello, my name is Marcos Breton, and I'm the news columnist with The Sacramento Bee. What's a columnist supposed to do? I'm supposed to make you think, make you laugh, make you mad or make you see an issue in a different way. I also write a weekly baseball column during the baseball season. I am a native of Northern California and the son of Mexican immigrants. I've been at The Bee for more than 20 years, and I love Sacramento.
Contact Marcos Breton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-321-1096.
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