When I left my seat in Sec. 103 to go visit my friends that were sitting on the other side of the Coliseum, the Oakland A’s had a 1-0 lead. By the time I reached Sec. 125, the Rangers had a 5-1 advantage. I saw about 90% of the carnage, catching glimpses of Texas knocking A.J. Griffin around as I moved from one standing-room-only viewing area to the next.
I commiserated with my friends, who were taking their two young children to a baseball game for the first time. Even though the Texas Rangers looked every bit the offensive machine in the third inning, the mood was nowhere near somber. Most groups of fans would’ve sat and sulked, the fans at the Coliseum came expecting a win.
So did I, to be honest. Otherwise I wouldn’t have bought a ticket that morning.
Since every (non-tarped) seat in the stadium was filled, I couldn’t stay and hang out long, so I went back to my seat. By the time I got back to my section, the A’s were leading 7-5. If you want to know what kind of team can come back from 5 games down with less than 10 to play, or from 13 down a couple months ago, there’s your answer.
Unlike the A’s, the Rangers couldn’t handle a counterpunch. There was more than enough bad body language to go around in the last couple innings from Texas, but I remember feeling no doubt whatsoever that Oakland would prevail at one particular moment. Derek Norris hit a bouncing single up the middle, and after Elvis Andrus came up just short on his dive (allowing Josh Donaldson to score) he stayed on the ground for a good 20 seconds. Texas was cooked.
— How did things turn so quickly? All those hits and walks helped, but Even Scribner won that game for Oakland. 39 pitches, 30 strikes, and Scribner brought the A’s to within 10 outs of the AL West title after A.J. Griffin lost control in the third inning.
— Between innings at one point, the crowd was asked to cheer for the song they wanted to hear most:
“Maneater” – Hall & Oates
“The Heart of Rock & Roll” – Huey Lewis and the News
“2 Legit 2 Quit” – M.C. Hammer
At AT&T Park, this would’ve been a dead heat between the latter two songs. At O.co, Hammer put a hurt on Huey.
— The Rangers can possibly write some crazy story that rivals Oakland’s rise over the previous several weeks, starting at home on Friday against the Baltimore Orioles. But if they hand the division to the A’s and lose the Wild Card game two days later, the front office will have to be at least slightly tempted to shake things up a bit. It would be ridiculously short-sighted to allow Josh Hamilton’s fielding error on Yoenis Cespedes’ shallow fly ball to center to enter into the equation when deciding whether to bring him back, but the people making these decisions are, well, people. And the Rangers aren’t going to feel very good about things if they follow up two World Series runner-ups with a divisional plunge like this.
— The guy sitting next to me decided to attend the game that morning as well. He lives in Lodi, and while he had one trip to an A’s game earlier this summer foiled by a flat tire on the drive to Oakland, the AL West clincher was his first time watching the A’s in person this season.
— I’m guessing the stadium was full of people with similar stories. During the 8th inning, the guy across the aisle says, “Maybe they can make it to the World Series,” almost incredulously, to the person next to him. I can’t say my mindset was all that different at the time.
— As you’d expect for such a game, people were ready to let loose. There’s something different about the noise in a concrete multipurpose stadium. They get a bad rap for many reasons, but there’s something about the acoustics at the Coliseum that rattles your ribcage. Especially when they clinch:
— I missed Coco Crisp making the AL West-clinching catch on video, but I took some photos.