DETROIT — After letting three different leads slip away Sunday, the A's had plenty to occupy their mind on a long flight back to Oakland.
The only idea that matters at this point: Finding a way to claw back into this American League Divisional Series after an emotional 5-4 loss in Game 2 to the Detroit Tigers.
Where to begin to describe what took place in front of 40,684 towel-waving fans at Comerica Park?
The A's scored first and then commanded two late-inning leads that they couldn't protect. They trail 2-0 in this best-of-five series that resumes Tuesday at the Coliseum. The A's have faced 2-0 deficits in seven postseason series in their history. They have never come back to win.
“We just need to win a game,” manager Bob Melvin said. “If you start thinking about three games ahead, then you lose your focus on Tuesday's game.”
They had plenty to kick themselves about after a wildly entertaining game that really got juicy in the seventh inning.
Cliff Pennington's RBI single in the top half put them up 2-1, but with two outs in the bottom half, center fielder Coco Crisp dropped Miguel Cabrera's shallow fly ball after a long run and the two-run error put Detroit ahead 3-2.
The A's came right back. On a crazy two-pitch sequence in the top of the eighth, Yoenis Cespedes scored the tying run on a wild pitch by Joaquin Benoit and Josh Reddick followed with a homer to make it 4-3.
But the A's normally trusty bullpen couldn't close the deal for the first time in a while.
Ryan Cook uncorked a wild pitch of his own to make it a 4-4 game in the bottom of the eighth, then closer Grant Balfour gave up a walkoff sacrifice fly to Don Kelly in the bottom of the ninth that scored Omar Infante with the game-winner.
“It felt like we just let them right back in the game when we really needed a shutdown inning,” Reddick said. “We gotta keep swinging the bats and picking people up and that's really all we can do.”