OAKLAND -- The A's did not have to kiss any baseballs Tuesday night to celebrate a victory. The crowd at O.co Coliseum took care of all the love.
And then some.
"They came out in full force from the get-go," said A's designated hitter Seth Smith, "and got jacked up and got the adrenaline flowing."
And that was before the first pitch.
After the game began ... well, there are several ways for a baseball team to recover from a two-games-to-zero deficit in a best-of-five baseball series against the Detroit Tigers. One way is to enter the airspace of the Hegenberger Road Patchy Grass Zoo and Clamor Society, then soak up the vibes and let the assembled multitudes help you make great defensive plays and wicked pitches and powerful swings of the bat on the way to winning.
If the atmosphere at the Coliseum is the same for the next nine innings as it has been for the last seven games there -- all A's victories -- we might indeed get to that Game 5.
Tuesday's victory was also a retort of sorts to the events of Sunday in Detroit. Toward the end of a Tigers' victory, Detroit reliever Al Alburquerque had induced a grounder back to the mound and then kissed the ball before tossing it to first base. Some of the A's were angered by the gesture, others puzzled and amused.
The paying customers at the Coliseum, meanwhile, simply decided to turn up the volume knob to 11. In the first postseason game
The players deserve credit for that stuff. But all of them gave at least some credit to the 37, 090 fans who showed up and kept the Coliseum rocking all night long.
"I think we get a kick of how into the game they are," said relief pitcher Sean Doolittle. "The way they play off what we're doing is awesome. If one of our hitters gets ahead in the count, 2-0, they're on their feet yelling. When one of our pitchers gets ahead in the count 0-2 against a batter, same thing."
Meanwhile, when center fielder Coco Crisp climbed the outfield wall for a ridiculous home run take-away catch and Cespedes dove for another preposterous defensive gem, the decibels seemed to push each man the final few inches to grab each ball.
It was a reminder how, under certain circumstances, a sports venue can become a mystical force of some sort and sweep away the participants. Across the bay, tidy AT&T Park can be quite noisy for Giants' games but seldom if
You can also give some credit, believe it or not, to the A's for choosing not to unleash the upper deck tarps. The team handled the public relations part of that unpopular choice awkwardly. But here was the end result: Rather than having 36,000 or 41,000 people spread out in patches over 55,000 seats -- as occurred in 2000 and 2002 during division series games before the tarps were installed in 2005 -- the announced 37,090 customers on Tuesday night were all concentrated in the lower decks near the field.
Some audiologist or sound expert can figure out the exact acoustical ramifications of that configuration. But in terms of decibels produced on the field of play, everyone agreed it was pretty awesome.
That included the Tigers. Max Scherzer, who will start Wednesday's Game 4 for Detroit, was in the dugout watching Tuesday night and noticed a change from the regular season.
"We've come here several times, and they have good fans, but they usually don't have this many people," said Scherzer. "That's probably the most rowdy atmosphere I've seen here -- or probably at any ballpark I've been to. Kudos to them."
It's true that attendance throughout the regular season was dismal. But as the A's caught fire in late summer, the seats mysteriously began to fill. On Tuesday, the raucous atmosphere continued into the later innings with the silly "Bernie Lean" dance -- and then into the bottom of the ninth, when A's reliever Grant Balfour entered the game, the left field tribe did their arm-churning deal to signify the rage with which their hero pitches. Balfour then retired the side.
Could this really carry over two more days?
"Being back here with our fans, we're feeling really good," said Doolittle.
"They stay with us, not just when we're ahead but when we've been down one or two," said catcher Derek Norris.
Does he even remember the last time the A's lost at home?
"I don't know," said Norris. "And I don't want to know."
The actual date was Sept. 16, more than three weeks ago, in the final game of a series against Baltimore. Might have been the last time the place was quiet. Might be the last time it's quiet in a while.