A's Move on to Finals with Rain-Shortened 3-1 Win
Written by: Johnny Most
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
This one had all the makings of a classic: Rangers-A's, the two teams that led the league all season and finished with identical 11-3 records, in the winner's bracket final. Winner moves on to Saturday's championship game, loser has to play another game to make it in. Rangers' tough defense and one of the league's best pitchers, against the A's league-leading bats. Would the old baseball axiom (good pitching always beats good hitting) hold true, or could the A's turn the rule on its head?
In the end, this one ended with a fizz, not a bang. A's bats were relatively silent, but it was their timely defense, gutsy pitching and the weather that contributed most to their 3-1 victory tonight. Some key outfield catches kept the Rangers at bay, and the game was stopped in the top of the 5th inning due to rain and thunder. Four innings constitutes an "official" game, so the A's emerged victorious.
The A's struck for two runs in the 1st inning, setting the tone for this tightly-played game. Sterling singled and Cole's double scored him from first. Cole then scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0. The Rangers battled back in the home half of the 1st, pushing across a run on a pair of two-out singles.
The A's tacked on a third run in the top of the 2nd inning, as Robert's perfectly executed bunt single scored AK, who had singled to lead off the inning. That was it for the scoring on the night.
The Rangers threatened in every inning. They put runners on 2nd and 3rd in the second before Matt's catch in CF stopped the rally. They loaded the bases with one out in the third inning, before Reese got a key strikeout followed by a nice catch by David in LF stopped them cold again. And in the bottom of the 4th, a well-struck ball looked to be over Matt's head, before he stretched and reeled it in.
Reese threw 3 1/3 strong innings and worked his way out of three jams for the win. Cole got two quick outs in the fourth to earn the save.
Sterling, Cole, AK and Robert got the A's four hits, by far the lowest output of the season for the Green Machine.
With the win, the A's move on to Championship Saturday, 14-3 overall and undefeated in the playoffs. Game time is 10 a.m. at Plaisted. An A's win ends the season -- if they lose, they will have to come back and play again at 4 p.m. on Saturday.