Sports columnists

Bay Area Oktoberfest of baseball drama

By From page B7 | October 12, 2012

ALDS Tigers Athletics Baseball

Oakland Athletics shortstop Cliff Pennington (2) chases down a ball hit by Detroit Tigers Andy Dirks in the second inning of Game 5 of an American League division baseball series in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012. Dirks was safe at first. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Whew! Is it only Friday?

After an exhausting week of baseball in the Bay Area – it feels like the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s played a dozen games in the past few days, all nail-biters – we finally get a  break to recover from the stress, celebration and disappointment

The Bay Bridge World Series is no longer in play, but the past week still feels like the ultimate baseball Oktoberfest.

And after the past six days, what could possibly be next, at least for the San Francisco Giants? A series of triple plays? A game-winning squeeze bunt in the 22nd inning? Angels in the outfield?

Don’t bet against any of them. (And realize that the Giants already an Angel in the outfield: Center fielder Pagan.)

Say it again: Whew.

The Giants completed an unprecedented comeback Thursday afternoon, holding off the Cincinnati Reds, 6-4, in Game 5 of their National League Division Series. Just a few hours later, the A’s fell to the Detroit Tigers in their series-deciding game, 6-0.

Two amazing series. Both settled in the fifth game.

A region that generally gives its heart to the NFL  suddenly became baseball crazy. Who cares about the Raiders and the 49ers when we’ve got the lovable Athletics and the resilient Giants?

In workplaces all over Solano County on Thursday, folks gathered around TVs and radios to follow the Giants as they grabbed a 6-0 lead, then hung on. Barely.

The hero for the Giants was, once again, Buster Posey, who hit a grand slam. He also threw out a base stealer and caught all six pitchers, including Sergio Romo, who threw approximately 1,500 pitches in the ninth inning before getting the final out.

Posey is approaching Joe Montana status in the Bay Area sporting landscape. His return from serious injury and clutch performance bring 1984-vintage Montana to mind. And Posey has plenty of company with the Giants – Tim Lincecum, dealing out of the bullpen; Hunter Pence, stepping forward as the emotional leader; Romo, throwing his wiffle-ball-like slider with the game on the line.

The Giants now wait to see who survives Friday night’s Nationals-Cardinals showdown and advances to face them starting Sunday in the National League Championship Series.

Lord knows area fans need the break. A few hours after San Francisco’s win on Thursday, they turned their attention to the A’s and Tigers, ignoring the vice presidential debate in favor of something that really matters.

Who needs Joe Biden vs. Paul Ryan when you can watch Jarrod Parker vs. Justin Verlander?

On Thursday, Parker held his own against Verlander, the best pitcher in the universe. The A’s did too, at least for six innings.

In the seventh inning, it  all fell apart as the Tigers scored four runs and put the game away. Hit batters, fielding miscues and misjudged fly balls all combined to finally put an end to Oakland’s Cinderella run.

While it was sad, it didn’t erase a remarkable season for the Amazin’ A’s, who made the postseason with  five rookie starting pitchers.

The Amazin’ A’s had a staggering 15  – fifteen! – walkoff victories.

The Amazin’ A’s used a combination of castoffs and unsung hitters (Coco Crisp? Seth Smith? Brandon Moss? Jonny Gomes?) to lead the AL West once: After the final game of the regular season.

The Amazin’ A’s, who overcame a 13-game deficit in the AL West, then a 2-0 deficit in the ALDS before finally losing.

Their season ended, but the memories – including 37,000-plus rabid fans rocking the heretofore uninspiring Oakland Coliseum – will endure.

The good news? It’s mid-October and the Giants are still playing.

The bad news? The agony of close games continues for at least another week.

Oktoberfest, indeed.

Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.

Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope is a former Daily Republic editor. He began his career at the DR in the last millennium. He spent 24 years as a sports editor, associate editor and news editor before leaving the Daily Republic in 2014. Brad lives in Suisun City with his wife, Mrs. Brad, and two sons. He enjoys cheese.

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