OAKLAND — The A’s had posted a dozen victories coming into the night, but the joy they experienced Saturday seemed like a fresh feeling for everyone in the clubhouse.
They pulled out one of those ninth-inning comebacks against Detroit that brought to mind so many games at the Coliseum during the division-winning seasons of 2012 and 2013.
Adam Rosales still had whipped cream residue around his ears as he addressed reporters, not long after his two-run single scored the tying and winning runs as Oakland pulled out a 6-5 victory over the Tigers.
“It’s almost like a relief to get that win,” Rosales said with a big grin. “We have a chance to win the series now and get over a little hump. It just feels good to win together as a team because we all fought until the end in that ballgame.”
The euphoric postgame scene was familiar: Players spilling out of the dugout to celebrate, Rosales getting slammed with a whipped cream pie and a bucket of water during his TV interview.
But the characters involved were different. In years past, Josh Reddick or Coco Crisp would have been the ringleaders of all the postgame shenanigans. Both are gone — Reddick dealt at last summer’s non-waiver trade deadline, Crisp shipped off a month later.
Stephen Vogt, a hold-over from happier years, delivered the pie to Rosales. But it was Ryon Healy and Bruce Maxwell — two players who could be future building blocks — who dumped the bucket. Tradition needs to be passed down on such occasions.
“I think we were a couple of the (last) ones in the dugout at the time,” Maxwell said. “Healy was like, ‘Hey, come help me with this cooler’ and I was like, ‘Hell yeah, I’m down.’”
It was an unlikely combination near the bottom of the batting order that ignited the winning rally. The bases were empty and the A’s were down to their last strike against veteran closer Francisco Rodriguez when Maxwell — who entered as a defensive replacement after Stephen Vogt had been pinch-hit for — battled back from an 0-2 count to work a walk to keep his team alive.
“Just trying to pass the baton to the next batter,” Maxwell said.
Then Matt Joyce, who brought a .185 batting average into the game but had made hard contact twice before the ninth, doubled to the right field corner to put the tying and winning runs in scoring position.
Rosales, who had never faced Rodriguez and was next up, was feverishly pumping Vogt and Khris Davis for a scouting report on the reliever.
“I knew he was gonna give me a fastball, but I didn’t know it was gonna be the first pitch, a pitch I could handle,” Rosales said.
A veteran who’s only starting regularly because of shortstop Marcus Semien’s injury, Rosales smacked a first-pitch fastball into left for the game winner.
The A’s first walk-off win of the year gave reliever Frankie Montas, who hit 101 miles per hour on the stadium gun in the top of the ninth, his first major league victory. It also gave manager Bob Melvin a memorable win on the night he was honored with his own bobblehead as a fan giveaway.
“What a night,” Melvin said. “A lot of contributions, man. We used just about everybody we had tonight and I think it was big for Frankie Montas to go and put up a zero. Guys were telling him when he came in the dugout, ‘we’re gonna get you a win tonight.’ Everybody had a part in it.”