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Athletics make Valverde pay for struggles

10/11/2012

AP Photo/Ben Margot

Coco Crisp recorded his fourth walk-off RBI of 2012.The Oakland Athletics led the majors with 14 walk-off wins during the regular season and those played a significant role in their run to the AL West title.

So why not add another to keep their postseason hopes alive?

There will be a fifth game in this ALDS thanks to a scintillating rally against Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the ninth inning.

Here are some of the statistical highlights from that.

Inside the Walk-off Hit

Coco Crisp had three walk-off RBI in the regular season to tie for the major-league lead with A.J. Ellis, Hanley Ramirez, John Jaso, and Alex Avila.

Crisp’s walk-off hit was the first by an Athletics player since Ramon Hernandez won Game 1 of the 2003 ALDS against the Boston Red Sox with a bunt single.

Valverde’s issues

Valverde entered the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game having allowed a total of one hit on the last 79 pitches he threw.

He allowed four in the span of 14 pitches in Wednesday’s loss.

Valverde gave up three hits with his fastball and one with his splitter. His fastball averaged 91.5 miles-per-hour, the second-lowest average velocity he’s had this season. All three of the hits came on fastballs thrown 92 miles-per-hour or below.

The lack of velocity is a big deal.

Opponents are hitting .381 against Valverde’s fastball when it’s thrown 92.4 miles-per-hour or slower.

They’re hitting .208 against it when he throws it 92.5 miles-per-hour or faster.

Looking ahead

Justin Verlander will be the fifth pitcher to start a winner-take-all playoff game the year after winning the Cy Young.

In all four previous instances, that pitcher's team lost the game. The four pitchers were Steve Carlton (1981 Phillies), David Cone (1995 Yankees), Barry Zito (2003 Athletics), and Roy Halladay (2011 Phillies).

Quirk of the Night: We’ve seen this before. … in the opposite fashion.

There is a scary reverse-resemblance between the 2012 ALDS and the 1972 ALCS between the Tigers and Athletics.

Rallied From 2+ Run Deficit to Win
3 outs from postseason elimination
9th inning or later

In 1972, the home team (the Athletics) were up two-games-to-none.

In 2012, the home team (the Tigers) went up two-games-to-none.

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In 1972, the home team (the Tigers) pitched a shutout in Game 3.

In 2012, the home team (the Athletics) pitched a shutout in Game 3.

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In 1972, the visiting team (the Athletics) was three outs from winning the series in Game 4, ahead 3-1.

In 2012, the visiting team (the Tigers) was three outs from winning the series in Game 4, up 3-1.

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In 1972, the home team (the Tigers) rallied for three runs in its last at-bat to win.

In 2012, the home team (the Athletics) rallied for three runs in its last at-bat to win.

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Looking ahead...

In 1972, the road team (the Athletics) won Game 5.

In 2012 ... we'll see.