Execution, you hear about it all 162 games from all 30 Major League teams. But it truly comes into play in October, when everything is so magnified.
When you don’t execute, you don’t win. It’s so true. And after this loss, the A’s — who blew one golden opportunity after another offensively — know it. 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Four double play balls. That’s just unacceptable and record-tying. Only the 2000 Cardinals know what it’s like to have such futility in the RISP department in a postseason game.
Now, the story was just as much about ace Barry Zito turning in an un-ace-like performance. But still, the A’s weren’t facing Sandy Koufax. They were facing Nate Robertson, the weak link in Detroit’s rotation.
The Tigers are riding a wave that teams sometimes catch this time of year. After what they did against the Yankees, they have to feel somewhat invincible.
Not that this night was all roses for Detroit. They lost Sean Casey, their gritty first baseman, who hobbled off the field after a groundout to end the sixth. The loss of Casey is indeed mighty for the Tigers, who were forced to play light-hitting Ramon Santiago at short while moving Carlos Guillen to first in Casey’s absence.
The one thing about a seven-game series — and this helps the A’s — is that it is far longer than a best-of-five. One loss in this round isn’t nearly as detrimental as it would have been last round, as both the Twins and Yankees can attest to from the golf courses around the world.
P.S. — How about a shout-out to Rickey Henderson. The all-time stolen base king was in the house! He was truly one of the great characters I’ve ever encountered. My favorite Rickey story is when he called Padres general manager Kevin Towers and left the following message: "This is Rickey calling on behalf of Rickey."
I’m counting down the days until his 2009 Hall of Fame induction speech. He’s the man.