- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
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Thoughts on a game that was about a million times more exciting than even the 8-6 final score would indicate -- a win for the Detroit Tigers over the Oakland Athletics that sends this series back to Oakland for Game 5.
1. Max Scherzer, pitching in relief, with the ultimate Wallenda-Houdini act in the eighth inning, loading the bases with no outs and then striking out Josh Reddick and Stephen Vogt and getting Albert Callaspo to line out to Austin Jackson in center field. It could be one of those innings that Tigers fans will remember for a lifetime. (Check back in three weeks.)
2. Reddick would love to have another shot at the 3-2 fastball he fouled off. With Scherzer's changeup darting all over the place like a rabid cat, Reddick was sitting fastball and got it -- but just missed it. Scherzer's next pitch was a changeup that was way low and inside, but it was like Reddick's brain couldn't comprehend a pitch he wasn't looking for and he swung wildly at ball four. Great pitch or bad swing? Both. Certainly a gutsy pitch by Scherzer to go away from dead red there.
3. After Vogt struck out on a 98-mph fastball, pinch-hitter Callaspo had a great at-bat. He just missed a double down the left-field, laid off the changeup, worked the count full and lined out to Jackson. Unlike Reddick, he did everything right and gets credit for only three runners left on base.
4. Callaspo is one of the best contact hitters in the game -- fifth-toughest guy in the majors to struck out. Considering the A's needed a run to tie, Bob Melvin probably should have hit him before there were two outs. If not for Reddick, then definitely for the inexperienced Vogt.
5. It would have been easy for Leyland to lift Scherzer, in his second inning of relief, after giving up those first two baserunners in the eighth. Love that he just went with his best, win or lose. (Unlike, say, Fredi Gonzalez.)
6. Victor Martinez's controversial game-tying home run. Reddick had a shot at it. The fan definitely leaned over the railing (but not over the yellow home run line at the top of the fence). There was no unanimous opinion on Twitter -- Reddick would have caught, Reddick wouldn't have caught, the trajectory would have cleared the wall, the trajectory wouldn't have cleared the wall. With no definitive answer, the umpires made the right call, especially since you certainly could not have assumed Reddick would have caught the ball (unlike Tony Tarasco of the Orioles on the famous Derek Jeter home run in the 1996 ALCS). A's fans will disagree.
7. After Martinez's homer, the Tigers scored the go-ahead when Jackson's two-out shattered-bat single landed just in front of Reddick, who was unable to corral the bounce. If he comes up with it cleanly, with his cannon arm he has a good shot to throw out Jose Iglesias at home plate. Inches.
8. Seth Smith's final at-bat. The Tigers scored three runs with two outs and nobody on in the eighth to seemingly put the game away. Not this game. The A's scored twice off Joaquin Benoit and had the tying run at the plate. Smith fouled off three fastballs with two strikes before Benoit finally got him chase a changeup in the dirt.
8. Dan Straily made one awful mistake on Jhonny Peralta's three-run homer. Right-handed batters hit just .181 off Straily's slider, the best swing-and-miss offering he has in his arsenal (he was 18th in the majors in his miss percentage on his slider). Not sure why he threw a 2-2 fastball to Peralta.
9. Great game by Martinez. He singled ahead of Peralta's homered. He hit his home run. His two-out single in the eighth got that rally going.
10. Miguel Cabrera has four singles and no walks in the series. Still doesn't look like an asset.
11. Rany Jazayerli pointed out on Twitter that the A's have never lost a division series in fewer than five games. But they're 0-5 in Game 5s.
12. Justin Verlander versus Bartolo Colon on Thursday. I hate to predict this one, but Verlander has dominated the A's two postseasons in a row, with three lockdown starts. Colon will likely have to pitch lights-out baseball to match him.
13. Do we have to wait a day for the game?
14. Scherzer. Reddick. That changeup. Sleep well, A's and Tigers. You'll need your rest.