Marcos Breton: Just one run, and an A's moment to savor
10/06/2013 12:00 AM
10/08/2014 10:48 AM
OAKLAND – It's a sound that won't soon be forgotten. It was part unrestrained joy and part defiant wail. It came from deep within the guts of an A's fan base often accused of having none. It bespoke a passion this franchise is not supposed to be able to inspire.
It was, quite simply, the culmination of an unforgettable game the A's had to win, and did. Then more than 48,000 A's fanatics took it from there.
Before A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes had stepped on the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning for the only run of a stirring 1-0 A's win over the Detroit Tigers, the former Oakland Coliseum was generating a Richter scale sound.
Stephen Vogt, the A's catcher whose stocky looks evoke a hockey defender more than a baseball player, had connected with a solid single to win it after striking out three times for the night.
Vogt was mobbed by his teammates in a delirious celebration following an A's win that tied this best-of-five divisional series at one win apiece.
Now it's on to Detroit for Game 3 on Monday. But before then, this one should be savored for the nail-biting joy it inspired.
In a game where only one run is scored, the focus will be on that run – especially when it's a walk-off run in an unbelievably tense situation.
This was it for Vogt and the A's.
They lose this game and this series is pretty much over.
A lunch-bucket guy like Vogt may never have a bigger moment in his baseball career than his RBI single to win it on a warm Saturday night. But what shouldn't be lost was the epic tandem formed by Vogt and A's starting pitcher Sonny Gray.
All A's fans reveled in it, but A's fans from Sacramento had to be rubbing their eyes – or dabbing their eyes – at the gorgeous sight of it.
These two guys teamed together for the bulk of the baseball season, but not here in the big leagues. They spent much more of the 2013 season as friends and baseball partners at Raley Field, on the banks of the Sacramento River. They were River Cats stars until each was called up by Oakland as a playoff push gained momentum.
"We started in Sacramento together," Gray said afterward. "I threw to him in maybe all of my starts with the River Cats except two. We just have great chemistry together."
Before this special night began, both men tried to joke with each as if they were back at Raley Field – and retained the magic they first forged in West Sacramento.
"I knew there was going to be a lot of adrenaline, but coming out here early, I wasn't nervous at all," Gray said.
The rookie right-hander, whose birth certificate says he's 23 but whose appearance says 17, came in here needing to be huge in a game where the opposing pitcher was the great Justin Verlander.
Verlander was great in ways we have no room to cite in this space because the A's won the game – and because Gray was even better.
There he was buzzing Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter in the third inning, drawing scowls and hollers from Hunter who didn't take kindly to the chin music and appeared to be trying to rattle the kid a little bit.
It didn't work. Gray cranked it up and struck out Hunter with ease while seeming placid on the outside.
It made a difference. The Tigers then knew they had a battle on their hands, a battle they lost while getting shut out by Gray and A's closer Grant Balfour over nine innings.
Since scoring three runs in the first inning of game one on Friday, the Tigers have been shutout by A's pitching for 17 straight innings.
Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera, hobbled by leg and abdominal injuries, looks a shell of himself – a big worry for Detroit going forward.
That will be a big story come Monday. Until then, the story was two rookies who starred in Sacramento until very recently.
They not only righted the A's season. They created memories that fans in Oakland – and Sacramento – won't soon forget.
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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