DETROIT -- Of greater significance than the A's 3-1 loss to the Tigers in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Saturday was the triumphant performance of Pat Neshek.
The reliever, taking to the mound with a heavy heart in the seventh inning just three days following the unexpected death of his first-born child, 1-day-old son Gehrig John, showcased what manager Bob Melvin deemed to be his most domineering outing of the season, all under grim circumstances.
With runners on first and second and one out, Neshek forced a potential double-play ball from Alex Avila that only resulted in one out, leaving Neshek no choice but to strike out Austin Jackson in dramatic fashion. Oakland's dugout erupted, its two-run deficit of no worry for the moment.
"It made me feel good. I got goose bumps," Melvin said Sunday. "I was watching him in the bullpen, just to see if I could see anything different, and I didn't. When I got on the mound, when I gave him the ball, he was the exact same he was every other time I've given him the ball. He wants the ball, he wants to talk to the catcher real quick and he wants to get going and work quick, and he did. Pitches were all crisp. I thought he threw really well, and I think everyone felt good about that."
Neshek's brave ways were again on display in the clubhouse just moments after the game, when he faced the lights of several cameras and the sound of reporters talking over one another with question after question.
"I don't see stuff like that, but it doesn't surprise me," Melvin said. "I talked to him real briefly when I came into the clubhouse, and he was very happy to be here around his teammates and his wife wanted him to come, too. So I think that was probably a good thing for him to be here and around those guys, and maybe just as medicinal as getting out in a game and pitching right away as opposed to having to wait around and trying to find the right spot.
"There's really no soft landings in the postseason, so he came into the game when we needed him to get those outs, and he did it."