The Oakland A's are hoping their improbable season continues with a victory over the Detroit Tigers and a spot in the American League Championship Series.
The A's last night found themselves teetering on the brink of elimination. Down 2 games to 1 in this best of five series, the A's headed into the bottom of the ninth trailing 3-1, before Coco Crisp capped off a 3-run rally with a two-out walk-off single to win the game.
The A's have been beating the odds all season long. With a roster of rookies and retreads, they somehow managed to overcome a 13-game deficit to overtake the Texas Rangers and win their division. In their Divisional Series playoff against Detroit, the A's quickly fell into a 0-2 hole, only to scratch and claw their way to a 2-2 tie.
Oakland General Manager Billy Beane was the toast of baseball just a few years ago, thanks to the A's repeat appearances in the playoffs and Michael Lewis' book "Moneyball," which focused on Beane's efforts to field a winning team with a small budget.
But it's been six years since Oakland was last in the post-season, taking some of the shine off Beane's boy wonder status. Critics also used the occasion of the Oscar-winning adaptation of "Moneyball," starring Brad Pitt as Beane, to suggest that maybe Beane's methods were mostly madness.
This year's A's are nothing like those teams that made Beane famous. The offense was eighth in the league in runs scored and posted an anemic .310 on-base percentage, and more than 100 games were started by pitches 25 or younger.
All season long people have been waiting for the A's to fall back to Earth, but but from July 1 forward, they went 57-26 and showed remarkable resiliency.
Tonight they face Justin Verlander, arguably the best pitcher in the American League. Verlander faced the A's twice during the regular season, going 2-0, while allowing one run and seven hits over 13 innings, and pitched seven innings of one-run ball to lead the Tigers to victory in the first game of this series.
Taking the hill for the A's is 23-year-old rookie Jarrod Parker, who struggled mightily in his lone outing against the Tigers, giving up six hits, four walks and two runs in 5.2 innings on his way to taking the loss. Parker took the loss against Verlander in the first game of the series.
With the Giants' victory over the Reds earlier today, the Bay Area is one step closer to hosting it's second BART Series. San Francisco and Oakland faced each other in the 1989 World Series, which was marred by the Loma Prieta earthquake.
That year saw the Bash Brothers A's of Canseco and McGwire defeat the Giants of Will Clark, 4 games to 1. The Giants won this year's season series 4-2, but only outscored the A's 30-28.