By Jason Wojciechowski on October 9, 2012 at 11:40 PM
This will be short because I'm a bit frazzled from a combination of real work, writing a Game Four preview for Baseball Prospectus (head over there to check it out — no link to the actual story yet because I'm writing this literally five minutes after I submitted it for editing, but it'll be up at some point), doing the Effectively Wild podcast on which I took significant heat from Sam Miller for my views on the home-field advantage (and if you've ever taken heat from Sam, you know how I feel right now — it's like Ron Swanson being upset with you), and, oh yeah, sitting nervously on the edge of the for three hours hoping against hope that the A's would not blow Game Three the way they did Game Two.
Fortunately, one of these three things worked out. (Well, I don't want to diss my Game Four preview too hard, but you can judge that for yourself.) Brett Anderson was largely brilliant, albeit a bit wilder than you'd like to see, and survived a few hard hit balls mainly by keeping them on the ground. A smash toward third resulted in a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play. A smash toward short became a one-hop groundout converted by Stephen Drew. Even had those balls gotten through, they weren't going to be homers or even doubles.
What was going to be a homer was Prince Fielder's deep drive in his first trip to the plate. Coco Crisp had other ideas, though, timing his run and his jump perfectly to take away a homer that would have tied the game at one and possibly changed the course of the whole contest. (Butterfly effect, donchaknow.)
In sharp contrast to Game Two, the bullpen was very good. Ryan Cook was as wild as always (eight strikes, six balls) and gave up a single to Jhonny Peralta on a hard grounder up the middle, but that was a two-out hit and there was no real danger. Sean Doolittle struck out the side and came roaring off the mound like no first baseman could ever do. And Grant Balfour gave up a line drive single to Miguel Cabrera on what looked to me like a not-terrible fastball before inducing a 6-3 groundball double play from Prince Fielder. The inning may have felt eventful, but that's really only because the season was on the line. The game was, to a rational mind, not seriously in doubt.
Of course, rational minds have no place in the playoffs, and they have no place in elimination games in particular. (Thus my stubborn belief that home-field advantage is completely screwed up this year despite all evidence to the contrary.) The A's are alive for one more day. Rational or irrational, that's the truth.