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Big League Stew

ALDS Game 4: A’s rally in ninth to stun Tigers, keep their amazing season alive

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

Score and situation: The Oakland A's Cinderella season continues thanks to an exhilarating ninth inning rally off Tigers closer Jose Valverde that resulted in a 4-3 victory. That forced a deciding Game 5 on Thursday night at the O.co Coliseum.

Leading lads:The A's offense struggled putting hits together all night long, but they got it done when it mattered most. Josh Reddick started the rally with a lead-off single. Josh Donaldson followed with a double, moving Reddick to third. And then Seth Smith — the man who was known as Mr. Late Night in Colorado because of his incredible knack to come up with big hits after the seventh inning — tied the game with a two-run double to right center.

That set the stage for Coco Crisp — who had been 0 for 4 in the game coming into his at-bat — to pull a single into right field. It looked like we were setting up for a dramatic play at the plate, but the hard-charging Avisail Garcia overran the ball and Seth Smith scored easily to clinch the win.

Head hangers: Unlike Jim Johnson earlier in the evening, Jose Valverde had a two-run cushion and some margin for error entering his save opportunity. That margin was gone quickly, though, and Detroit's closer was unable to stop the A's avalanche. It probably won't make him or his teammates feel any better, but he's not the first closer these A's have broken since their run started in June.

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(Getty Images)

Key play: Everything that happened in the bottom of the ninth was critical, but I really believe the double by Josh Donaldson was the key to the whole thing. Reddick's single was a good start and definitely woke the crowd up. Smith's hit obviously tied the game. But Donaldson's double sandwiched in between ratcheted up the pressure on Valverde and tied the whole thing together for Oakland.

What they'll be talking about: How will the Tigers recover from this gut-wrenching defeat? Three outs from the ALCS, they now have to collect themselves and attempt to kill a team that refuses to die on Thursday night. Good luck.

What's next: Can we handle two Game 5's in one day? We better hope so, because that's exactly what we're getting. The Game 5 in Oakland will begin at 8:30 ET. Jarrod Parker will get the ball for Bob Melvin's club. Justin Verlander, so close to starting Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday, now has to quickly focus on a do-or-die start in less than 24 hours.

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