Getty Images via NBC Bay Area
Giants celebrating after winning NLDS - San Francisco Giants v Cincinnati Reds - Game Five; Athletics dejected after ALDS Game 5 loss - Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics.
By Vince Cestone
Bay Area baseball fans have been tense all week long, but the waiting period ended on Thursday.
On one side of the San Francisco Bay, fans were filled with elation. On the other side, fans were heartbroken.
Both Bay Area teams battled through adversity in their Division Series games. The Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants were each down 2-0 in their respective series, but both battled back to tie
The Giants and A’s had their dramatic moments.
The Giants barely staved off the Cincinnati Reds’ valiant comeback attempt in Game 5. Buster Posey’s grand slam in the fifth inning gave the Giants a commanding 6-0 lead, but the Reds would cut it down to 6-4 by the ninth inning.
Giants fans were nervously on their feet throughout the winner-take-all game. After Posey’s grand slam, the Reds had at least two runners on base in every inning, including the tying run at first in the ninth inning.
Sergio Romo, the anchor of the Giants’ bullpen, silenced the 44,000 people at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati by striking out Scott Rolen to end the ballgame. To add to the drama, the pitch hung up there, but the break still fooled Rolen.
While a hanging breaking ball usually means despair for Giants fans, this time it meant jubilation. No Giants reliever was more excited than Romo to get the series clinching out.
“I’m very proud that they asked me to get the last out,” Romo said. “It means a lot to me that they count on me.”
The cards fell in place for San Francisco. The only reason Romo was asked to close it out was because of an injury to Jeremy Affeldt, according to manager Bruce Bochy.
Back in the Bay Area, the A’s tried to match the Giants and advance to the American League Championship Series. They had all the momentum in the world after Wednesday night’s thrilling come-from-behind victory, scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth to stun the opposing Detroit Tigers (after Jose Valverde's recent blown save in New York, manager Jim Leyland may replace him in the closer role, according to Newsday).
Thursday night's American League Division Series Game 5 did not go as planned for the A’s and their fans.
Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander was just too much for Oakland. After coming alive late last night, the A’s bats chilled on ice all night never to be let out—just like their series-clinching champagne celebration.
Verlander blanked the A’s on just four hits in his complete effort. Although the A’s ultimately were done in, thanks to a four-run outburst by Detroit in the seventh inning, chants of “Lets go, Oakland!” could be emphatically heard after the game as the Tigers celebrated.
Despite facing a tough pitcher in Verlander, A’s manager Bob Melvin still stood by his team.
"We didn't think it was going to end today, not for a second," Melvin said. "We knew we were going up against a good pitcher. That didn't mean we didn't think we were going to win. We've gone up against good pitchers this year. And it's a bit of a shock when it finally does end. It was a heck of a story. It was a heck of a run for us."
The lights at the Oakland Coliseum will remain off for baseball until April 2013, but the A’s will be ready next year. Fans should expect them to benefit from their postseason experience and their relentless never-give-up attitude going forward.
As for the Giants, Orange October will continue Sunday at AT&T Park against the St. Louis Cardinals. After feeling disappointment with two crushing losses, the Giants faithful will have a chance to see their team play for at least two more games.
The lights may go down in the city of Oakland next week, but they will be shining brightly at 24 Willie Mays Plaza.