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Lowell Cohn: A’s lose a game, but series still in reach

  • Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Bartolo Colon gave up three runs to the Detroit Tigers in the first inning during Game 1 of the ALDS in Oakland on Friday, October 4, 2013. The Athletics lost to the Tigers 3-2. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / The Press Democrat)

OAKLAND -- This was not a despair game, the first game of the League Division Series, A’s against the Tigers. If you’re an A’s fan remember that. The game was, in its way, thrilling, revealing, glorious, if a 3-2 loss — any loss — can be glorious.

The A’s gave it up right away. Starting pitcher Bartolo Colon gave it up. It’s what happens with power pitchers, even the best of them. And Colon is among the best of them.

He needs time for his mechanics to even out, to get all those gears and valves and screws working together. His pitches were up, hittable. In the first inning, he gave up three runs on four hits, and he looked tired and old — he’s an ancient 40. After each pitch, he turned his back to the mound and lumbered up the hill, trudged up the hill, the effort massive. He was a man with a burden, someone causing himself problems.

But he got his machinery to work, gave up no runs after that. All A’s pitchers gave up no runs after that. And the A’s came back, made it a game, made it a crowd-screaming, any-team’s game. And all this reminded you who the A’s are.

They wait. They wait to get you. Sometimes they fall behind but they come back. They play ball. And they fight. They spit in anyone’s eye.

In the bottom of the seventh, Yoenis Cespedes hit — absolutely crushed — a two-run home run over the left-field wall. The Tigers led 3-2. And you thought, “Sure, the A’s will come back. It’s what they do.”

But the A’s could not get over on the Tigers’ pitchers, could not finish off the incomparable Max Scherzer — 11 strikeouts. Cespedes’ homer was only the A’s third hit of the game — and that’s what the A’s finished with, three hits. They also struck out 16 times.

Josh Reddick (three strikeouts) and Daric Barton (three strikeouts) and Brandon Moss (three strikeouts) looked lost, not like big leaguers.

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