A’s pull out another thriller to force Game 5 against Tigers

You could describe the A’s comeback 4-3 victory Wednesday night as unbelievable, but it’s getting easier and easier to believe they will somehow find a way to pull such games out. Down two in the ninth, they rallied for three runs for a walk-off victory over Detroit that forces Thursday’s Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series. This team is incredible to watch, but a killer to cover on deadline. Just when you think one story is unfolding, the A’s go and switch it all up in the span of a pitch or two.

So with this series coming down to a winner-take-all final game, the question is what kind of carry-over effect such a loss will have on the Tigers. There’s not much more they could have done right leading up to the ninth. They received great pitching, got just enough offense and even squeezed out an insurance run to make it a 3-1 game in the eighth. On the verge of clinching, they had the rug pulled out from under them and now must try to finish the job Thursday. Psychologically, I’d think they might still be reeling when they arrive to the ballpark. But the fact that they’ll run Justin Verlander to the mound for Game 5 will probably have a stabilizing effect.

The Tigers obviously feel good about their starting pitcher, but I think the A’s feel very good to be running rookie Jarrod Parker out there. A’s fans have reason for optimism based on how Parker threw in Game 1.

–Coco Crisp and Seth Smith, the ninth-inning heroes, arrived in the interview room after Wednesday’s game, and Crisp still appeared a bit out of breath as he answered questions.

“This club, we’ve been battling the whole year, giving a hundred percent,” Crisp said. “And these walk-offs have been our M.O. this year.”

Apparently closer Grant Balfour was stoking the fire in the A’s dugout starting in the eighth inning. He was yelling that the A’s were going to make a comeback, and fellow reliever Sean Doolittle said everyone started believing it.

“He was like, ‘We’re gonna do it!’, screaming at the top of his lungs,” Doolittle said. “That kind of stuff is infectious.”

–More on Thursday’s pitching matchup:

*Verlander is 3-0 in three starts against the A’s this season. In 20 innings, he has allowed 10 hits and just two runs, with 25 strikeouts and eight walks.

*Parker opposed Verlander on May 13 at the Coliseum. He took his first loss of the season, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing two runs. As I mentioned in the pregame blog, don’t expect Parker to be in awe matching up against Verlander in such a big game. It seems like he’s looking forward to the challenge.

Check in w/you tomorrow …

Joe Stiglich