A's keep miracle season alive with 4-3 miracle in Game 4

Ezra Shaw - Getty Images

It's Coco Crisp's world. We're just living in it.

Wednesday night in Oakland, the Athletics beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3 in spectacularly dramatic fashion to deadlock their American League Division Series at four games apiece. The A's trailed 3-1 in the ninth inning, but rallied for three runs against Tigers closer Jose Valverde, with Coco Crisp driving in the winning run with a two-out single.

Detroit's big stars were starting pitcher Max Scherzer and first baseman Prince Fielder, as Scherzer gave up just one run in five-plus innings, and Fielder walloped a fourth-inning home run that traveled 420 feet.

Entering this series, having to face Justin Verlander twice -- and probably beat him at least once -- seemed like the biggest obstacle facing the A's. They still face that obstacle, but for most of Wednesday night it looked like they wouldn't get even that chance.

In Game 4, Scherzer struck out 10 A's in only 5⅓ innings. The A's did knock out Scherzer in the sixth, but Stephen Drew's baserunning blunder -- he was out at third while trying to stretch a double into a triple -- might have cost the A's their second run, and from there the Tigers' bullpen took over for a while.

Octavio Dotel and Phil Coke both accounted for single outs after Scherzer left in the sixth. Al Alburquerque pitched a perfect seventh. In the eighth, Joaquin Benoit quashed a two-out rally by striking out Brandon Moss on a pitch in the dirt.

Meanwhile, the Tigers scored scored single runs in the third inning on Austin Jackson's RBI single, and in the fourth on Fielder's homer, and finally an insurance run in the eighth on rookie Avisail Garcia's pinch-hit single.

And then, the ninth. During the regular season, Tigers closer Jose Valverde converted 35 of 39 save opportunities, then pitched a perfect ninth to save Game 1 of this series. Wednesday night, though, most of the A's treated Valverde like a Batting Practice pitcher. Josh Reddick led off, and drove a single to right field. Josh Donaldson smashed a double off the wall in left-center field. And Seth Smith tied the game with a double into the right-field gap.

With catcher Derek Norris due next, Bob Melvin eschewed the bunt and instead sent up George Kottaras to pinch hit. Kottaras fouled out. Then Valverde struck out Chad Pennington with a high splitter that might actually have been a strike.

Which brought up Coco Crisp. In Game 2, he cost the A's dearly with a big error in center field. In Game 3, he stole a home run from Prince Fielder that might have been the difference. And in Game 4, Crisp drove one of Valverde's fastball into right field, with Smith sprinting around third base and scoring the game-winner without a throw.


For the Athletics, it's been something like a magical season. During the regular season, they led the majors with 14 walk-off wins, and of course they came out of nowhere in the second half to win a division title.

For at least one more day, the magic lives. Now all they have to do is beat Justin Verlander.

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