Crisp rises to occasion once again

Crisp rises to occasion once again

OAKLAND -- Walking to the plate with the chance to keep the A's magical season alive, Coco Crisp had to take a deep breath and collect himself.

Between his time in the dugout and the on-deck circle, the 11-year veteran had watched a ninth-inning rally that had Seth Smith now waiting on second base after his two-run double knotted the score at 3. And with two outs, Crisp had the chance to extend their improbable season for at least one more game by beating the Tigers and making Game 4 of the American League Division Series Oakland's biggest walk-off win yet.

The roaring Coliseum crowd already had Crisp energized, but once the stadium speakers began blaring "Moving Like Bernie" -- the song and dance that has become an anthem of sorts for the loose and youthful A's -- the moment became a little too much for Crisp.

A's vs. Tigers

"It kind of surprised me that I got over-the-top emotional," Crisp said. "I had to dial it back. I was really surprised. I was able to calm myself down, thank God."

After having collected himself enough to stare down Tigers closer Jose Valverde, Crisp lined the first pitch he saw into right field, sending Smith home and his teammates into a frenzy as they stormed on the field to mob their center fielder to celebrate the 4-3 win.

Crisp has been in the thick of the A's season-long knack for walk-off wins, being no stranger to the pie-to-the-face from Josh Reddick that customarily follows their on-field celebration. He now has four walk-off hits this season out of the A's 15, the most in the Major Leagues.

"I don't think there's anybody we feel better about," manager Bob Melvin said. "There's certainly guys we feel good about, but I don't think there's anybody we feel better about in that situation than Coco."

And though it was a calm and collected Crisp who delivered the final blow, his trademark energy has played a pivotal role for Oakland in the series and the season as a whole.

Earlier in the game, Crisp breathed some life into the Athletics offense in the sixth inning when he battled through a 10-pitch at-bat against Tigers starter Max Scherzer, hitting a hard grounder to first that was misplayed by Prince Fielder. Crisp hustled all the way to second, and after he took third on a wild pitch, he trotted home on Stephen Drew's double.

All season long, Crisp's teammates pointed to his energy on the field and in the clubhouse as a leading ingredient to their success. That energy was on display during a spectacular catch to rob Fielder of a home run in the second inning of Tuesday's Game 3, helping propel the A's to a 2-0 win.

And upon seeing that it would be Crisp up to bat with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, his teammates joined him in taking that deep breath to calm their nerves.

"Once he got up, we knew we were going to win that game -- no doubt in our minds," Reddick said. "He's come through for us so many times in the bottom of the ninth, we had zero doubt in our minds that he was going to get a base hit."

Jay Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.