DETROIT -- It didn't take long for Coco Crisp to say out loud what was already known: Tuesday's Game 3 of the American League Division Series is "a must-win situation" for the A's.
Yet Crisp and Co., headed back to Oakland down 0-2 in the best-of-five series following Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Tigers, seemingly could have prevented such a dire state from unfolding. There was no pointing the finger at any one person on this crazy day, but the veteran Crisp, who regularly ignites this team, owned up to a mistake that provided the opposite effect at one point in the game.
The A's had collected the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh inning, a lead that was threatened when lefty Sean Doolittle boarded runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom half for Miguel Cabrera. Baseball's Triple Crown winner, already owner of two doubles on the day, again sailed one to the outfield, and Crisp appeared in prime position to end the inning with ease.
But Crisp, motioning to make a basket catch, watched the ball bounce of his glove, his eyes staying with it as he prepared to make another stab at it, before it bounced again and fell to the ground, allowing two runs to score.
At the time, the A's chances at salvaging a win in Detroit -- and, in the greater scheme, an ALDS victory -- simultaneously faltered. Oakland battled back for two runs in the eighth to take the lead, but the Tigers again tied it in the bottom of the inning and untied it in dramatic fashion in the ninth.
"I think I had a good read on it," Crisp said. "Obviously we're playing deep, we don't want any balls to get over our head at that moment, plus the guy's pretty strong, but I came in, and it was one of those judgment calls, try to catch it like that and try to slide into it, and it's just unfortunate I didn't make the catch. I feel like I should have made the catch. I'm better than that. I feel like everyone would feel that way. You've got to make that play."
The fact he didn't lent plenty of motivation to the opposing side.
"We were fired up, man," Detroit's Quintin Berry said. "I came out from the batting cages because I saw it on TV. Everybody's fired up, screaming. It's like we had a second life.
"He's playing deep right there and definitely that ball coming in front of you right there, it can make it kind of difficult. Plus you don't know where that infielder is. All those things come into play. It's a tough play to make. Fortunately it worked out for us."
"We're talking about an extremely good center fielder," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They covered a lot of ground to get to the ball. It just ended up popping out of his glove."
Crisp's giving of two runs came four frames after he was robbed of one himself, as Avisail Garcia's throw from right field on Yoenis Cespedes' base hit perfectly lined up with catcher Gerald Laird, who made the tag on Crisp's shoulder -- after he had been called out on the bases just twice during the regular season.
This in the midst of a game that proved how crucial one run can be.
"It was a great throw, there's no question about it," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.