DETROIT -- Sometime Sunday night, Coco Crisp said he doesn't know when, his mind will become a video camera and "I'll hit the replay button." And his misery will begin afresh. He'll see himself running toward Miguel Cabrera's ball in the seventh inning Sunday afternoon. There are two outs and two runners on. If he catches it, the inning's over and the A's keep their 2-1 lead in Game 2 of the ALDS.
"I don't know if it's going to happen just before I go to sleep or after I get to sleep," the A's centerfielder said. He said it the same way you would expect your car, low on fuel and not a station around, to run out of gas. It will happen soon or it will happen later. Your fists clench because you know it will happen.
"Obviously it's inevitable," said Crisp, his voice sounding weary.
One doesn't make the key play of a playoff game, the one that changes everything, and then hit the delete key on the memory bank.
"I still believe it was the right decision," Crisp said. To slide or to make a basket catch, that was his decision. He decided to make the basket catch. And in the seconds that followed the decision I came to appreciate more than ever how easy the great Willie Mays made that catch.
The fly ball hit the heel of Crisp's glove. It caromed forward and for a nano-second Crisp had it at the tip of his webbing. But, now sliding, Crisp's forward momentum shot the ball from his glove and in one last attempt, he threw out his right hand at it, like it had Velcro and somehow the ball would stick to it.
The ball dropped, Austin Jackson and Omar Infante, off with the pitch, scored two unearned runs. The A's would go on to lose, 5-4. No matter what the sport, all defeats are reduced to analysis — what coulda, shoulda been done. In Game One, Detroit's Justin Verlander threw peas up there and Oakland couldn't hit them. OK, fine, the A's didn't lose Game One; Verlander beat them. But Sunday's Game Two, this one was the other way around.
The A's didn't act like the team with the magic halo, the one that did all the right things in ending the season with six consecutive victories and the division title. Josh Reddick heaved his bat down the hallway inside the dugout tunnel, frustrated at striking out for the third time Sunday. Shortstop Stephen Drew came close to being thrown out of the game in third inning arguing a called third strike. And usually reliable reliever Ryan Cook threw a wild pitch that allowed a run to score in the eighth.
But the one play that will be replayed by more than Crisp was that drop in the seventh. The A's committed the third-most errors in the American League this year (111) but couldn't help but boast that those errors only led to 45 unearned runs, the fourth-lowest total in the league.
"I don't think I ever dropped a ball this season either sliding or with a basket catch," Crisp said. "A hundred times out of a hundred I catch that ball ... but I guess it's not 100 times anymore."
As if the A's needed to leave Detroit with any more baggage that Game Two provided, they had to endure the insult Tiger reliever Al Alburquerque gave them in the top of the ninth. With runners on first and second Yoenis Cespedes hit a one-hopper back to Alburquerque. As the reliever ran toward first to lob an easy toss for the third out, he looked at Cespedes and kissed the baseball.