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Why did I decide, at some point last week, to take the conservative approach and root for TEX so LAA couldn't catch the A's? Because I knew that for the A's to win the AL West, the A's would have to go 8-1 while Texas also went 2-7, and like that's gonna happen. It happened. Today's game was almost a microcosm of the season. Midway through the game, the A's found themselves in a deep hole with the Rangers, kind of like midway through the season the A's found themselves in a deep hole with the Rangers. The top of the 3rd, when Texas scored 5 runs to take a 5-1 lead, could be considered the "9-game losing streak". Then the A's roared back, ultimately caught and passed Texas, and by the end were just the better team. Kind of like the AL West standings now show. Heck, they even did it with exceptional bullpen work (try 6.1 IP scoreless) and huge contributions from Brandon Moss. And Derek Norris. And Josh Donaldson. Who? Some more thoughts after the jump...
Scribner came up huge today, throwing 3 scoreless innings to bridge the gap from A.J. Griffin to the A's "plus relievers". That being said, in a way he was lucky more than good. Remember that Nelson Cruz missed a 2-run HR by a couple of feet, and then Michael Young smoked a line drive right at Moss. Either would have given the Rangers a 7-1 lead. But still, Scribner did come up big and Bob Melvin deserves a lot of credit for keeping every single player on the roster involved and ready, and having confidence in them, as needed, when their "turn to shine" came up.
It even makes me feel better about the game that was hardest to swallow this season, when Pedro Figueroa let a 4-run lead slip away in the 13th inning at New York. OK, things didn't work out but Figueroa did toss a couple scoreless innings after that and it showed that the A's were prepared to make him a part of the stretch drive as needed -- because you never know how many innings you might play on any given day (right, Micah Bowie?) or when you might just need someone to step up, as Scribner did today.
If you're on the roster, you have a role and you might get the call even in a game that the A's "have to win," and Melvin will be ready to put you in a position where he thinks you have the best chance to succeed. It could happen in Game 5 of the ALDS, or Game 7 of a possible ALCS or World Series.
The last time the A's made the playoffs, I remember so distinctly that singular moment when the clinching game turned from one the A's might well win to one that was "actually in the bag". That moment was when Marco Scutaro lined a bases-clearing double into the right field corner, and I remember saying, "The A's are going to the ALCS!" This was after so many "almosts" where I had waited to be able to say it, but then...well, you know the history of the early 2000s.
Today, that moment happened again when Brandon Moss ripped a base hit to right center that wound up clearing the bases. At 9-5, the game was still within one swing of the bat, still within one "Figueroa". And then..."We're gonna win the AL West!"
94 wins. And something tells me these 2012 A's aren't quite done winning just yet.