DETROIT -- Just ask Stephen Vogt. There's something wonderful and downright fun about baseball in the playoffs.
Six months ago, the A's catcher wasn't destined for the limelight. At the time, Vogt had close to 1,900 minor league at-bats in which he hit .299, but in his 25 at-bats in the major leagues, he was hitless.
The Tampa Bay Rays had designated him for assignment, leaving the team 10 days during which it could trade him, release him or re-sign him to a minor league deal. And then Vogt's cell phone rang. It was the A's, who for $150,000 had bought his contract.
The A's didn't need a catcher. They had John Jaso and Derek Norris in Oakland and Luke Montz at Triple-A Sacramento. But as general manager Billy Beane said after Saturday's game, "we are also looking to add depth" to the organization.
"I don't really care how much money I was traded for," Vogt said, looking back to April after he had been the offensive hero of Oakland's 1-0 win over Detroit in the A.L. Division Series on Saturday. "I was just happy to have a job."
The job was in Sacramento. Vogt was called up briefly in June, and his hitless big league streak went to 0 for 32 before he homered off St. Louis' Joe Kelly on June 28. Shortly thereafter he was back at Sacramento.
A month later, Vogt was called up when Jaso and Norris were hurt and Montz was on the minor league disabled list. It was about that time the A's traded for even more catching help -- Kurt Suzuki.
Norris rebounded from his fractured big toe, but with both Norris and Suzuki being right-handed batters, left-handed Vogt was kept around. More than that, he kept producing. He hit .252 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 47 games.
And he was catching winners. The A's went 8-0 in Vogt's first eight starts behind the plate and 27-13 overall.
It wasn't noticed by a wider audience until Saturday's Game 2 of the ALDS. Vogt caught nine shutout innings, then in the bottom of the ninth became the hero. The A's loaded the bases. Batting with none out and new reliever Rick Porcello in the game, Vogt slashed a single to left-center to give the A's the 1-0 victory.
The hit earned him a pie in the face, a Gatorade bath and acclaim.
"It's a crazy feeling," a tired Vogt said Sunday in Detroit after an overnight flight. "Haven't really processed what happened last night. It's been a crazy, crazy few hours."
"They're lucky to have three guys. And really (Game 4 starter Doug) Fister at times can be just as tough as any of them," Melvin said. The A's have scored just three runs in the first two games.
Manager Jim Leyland, who started Andy Dirks and Don Kelly in left field the first two games, will go with former shortstop Jhonny Peralta in that role.
Peralta rejoined the Tigers in the final week of the season after serving a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Shortstop is manned by Jose Iglesias, who is a superior defender, so left field is Peralta's new spot.
He could go back to Daric Barton, who started Game 1 and who gives the team better defense at first base with Brandon Moss going to D.H. Or he could do what he did in Game 2, when Moss moved to first base and Seth Smith took over as D.H. and had two singles, including one in the ninth inning that set up the winning run.