OAKLAND — Seth Smith, Coco Crisp and the never-say-die Oakland Athletics forced a Game 5 of their AL division series against the Detroit Tigers with their most memorable comeback yet.
Smith hit a game-tying two-run double off closer Jose Valverde in the ninth inning and Coco Crisp capped Oakland’s most dramatic comeback yet with a two-out RBI single as the A’s staved off elimination for a second straight night with a 4-3 victory in Game 4 Wednesday night.
“There’s a confidence,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve done it so many times so there’s always going to be that confidence until we make that last out.”
The A’s rode 14 walkoff wins in the regular season to an improbable AL West title. Those paled in comparison to No. 15, which set up a win-or-go-home Game 5 against Justin Verlander and the Tigers.
Josh Reddick started the rally with a single just under the glove of diving second baseman Omar Infante. Josh Donaldson followed with a double off the wall in left-center and both runners scored on Smith’s double. Two outs later, Crisp lined a single and Smith scored easily when right fielder Avisail Garcia couldn’t handle the ball.
“It’s amazing,” Crisp said. “The guys in front of me did a fantastic job getting on base.”
That set off a raucous celebration near first base as the A’s poured out of the dugout to mob Crisp, who was the recipient of a whipped cream pie that became a regular occurrence in this remarkable season in Oakland. This marked the second time the A’s erased a two-run deficit in the ninth inning to win a postseason game, the other coming in Game 5 of the 1929 World Series.
The A’s, who have the lowest payroll in baseball, need just one more surprising result to win their second postseason series since 1990. Rookie Jarrod Parker will take the mound in Game 5 on Thursday night against Verlander, the reigning AL Cy Young winner and MVP.
“That’s why this is the greatest game of all,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It looked like we were going to get it. We didn’t do it. We didn’t quite get the 27 outs, that’s part of the game. You get tested all the time in this game. And this is a good test.”