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October 6, 2013
Vogt still feeling walk-off 'whirlwind;' Parker returns to Detroit

DETROIT -- A day after his game-winning single in Game 2 of the A.L. Division Series, A's catcher Stephen Vogt said he was still wrapping his head around the impact of the hit Sunday afternoon.

"Haven't really processed what happened last night," Vogt said. "It's been a whirlwind. It's been a crazy, crazy few hours."

The A's boarded a plane shortly after the game ended and landed in Detroit early Sunday morning, and Vogt said he didn't sleep well on the flight. So there hadn't been much time to let the moment sink in for the 28-year-old catcher, who began the season in Triple-A after being traded to the A's from the Tampa Bay Rays in early April.

Vogt said he "heard from a lot of people" following what he termed the biggest moment of his career to date. The only thing comparable, he said, was "maybe my first hit in the big leagues" -- a home run on June 28.

"But this blew that out of the water for sure," Vogt said.

It was certainly more important for the A's, allowing them to even their series against the Tigers at 1-1 before resuming play in Detroit. Vogt lined the bases-loaded, no-out single to left off reliever Rick Porcello, a sinkerballer whom Vogt had never faced and whom Tigers manager Jim Leyland summoned in hopes of inducing a double-play ground ball.

Vogt said he was "able to kind of see the sink" on Porcello's first two pitches and gauge its movement before swinging at the right-hander's 1-1 offering, getting just enough air under it to carry past shortstop Jose Iglesias.

Decisive as that hit was, it was Vogt's defense that drew praise from A's general manager Billy Beane after Game 2. Vogt helped get the A's out of a two-on, one out jam in the fifth by throwing out Iglesias trying to steal second on Sonny Gray's strikeout of Austin Jackson. It was the 10th runner Vogt has nabbed in 30 chances since being called up.

Beane told reporters Saturday night that Vogt "had a reputation of being a good hitter, a good offensive player. His glove was secondary, but he's done a great job receiving and throwing like he did on that double play. Great game all-around."

* Game 3 starter Jarrod Parker said he sent Sonny Gray a text Sunday morning after the A's landed in Detroit to ask Gray if he was planning on swinging by Comerica Park, despite the fact the A's opted not to hold a workout on their off-day.

"He said, 'I wasn't planning on it,'" Parker said. "I said, no, you stay in bed all day. You can do whatever you want today."

Parker will take the ball for the A's tasked with following Gray's act in Game 2, in which the 23-year-old rookie threw eight shutout innings to help the A's win a game in which Detroit started Justin Verlander, who overpowered them twice in last year's ALDS.

Parker, himself a rookie at the time, was on the losing end of both those Verlander starts last year. He said Sunday he expects that experience to benefit him this time around as he again pitches the first road game of the series for Oakland.

"Going to be able to settle in and slow things down right away," Parker said. "It's not going to be so foreign, I guess. Being there in it last year, it's one of those things where you pull from ... that atmosphere. It's a good learning experience."

Arguably the A's most consistent starter during his 19-start unbeaten streak this year, in which he allowed more than three runs just once, Parker ended the season on down note, allowing seven runs in 4 1/3 innings in two of his final three starts. Sunday, he chalked those up to "a couple of bad innings" in which "stuff was just not good."

Parker's last start came Sept. 28 in Seattle, so he will have had six days of rest when he takes the mound Monday afternoon for Game 3 -- something he said can only help.

"I think anytime you can get some extra days this point in the year, it's a positive thing for your body," Parker said. "Gives you a little extra time to iron out a few things and get mound work. For me, it was definitely a positive leading up to this outing, and I was able to iron some things out and I feel great."

As tough as things have been on the two offenses in this series -- the A's have struck out 29 times in two games, while the Tigers haven't scored in 17 innings -- they don't figure to get much easier tomorrow. Parker will start against Anibal Sanchez, who during the regular season posted the lowest ERA (2.57) in the American League.

* With his two hits in Game 2, A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes has now hit safely in all seven playoff games he has appeared in -- the longest career-opening postseason hitting streak in Oakland history. In those seven games, Cespedes is 10-for-27 (.370).

"He's not afraid of the spotlight -- he embraces it," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "And I think once the postseason started after what was a little bit of a difficult year for him, not only numbers-wise but injury-wise, this is like a fresh start for him."

Cespedes hit .240 in his second big-league season but had his best month in September, batting .314 with six home runs and 19 RBIs.

* While Parker flew to Detroit with the team late Saturday night, the Tigers sent their starter Sanchez back before Game 2. "I like to work early, so that's why I flew (during the day)," Sanchez said. "(Monday) I'll feel really comfortable."

The A's sound like they expect little drop-off from Detroit's two front-line starters, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, to Sanchez today. A's manager Bob Melvin said Sunday of Sanchez: "Any other team, he's a top of the rotation guy. They're just lucky enough to have three guys."

"He's outstanding," Vogt said of Sanchez. "I'm sure it's going to be another close, low-scoring game because that's the way this series is going and that's the way these pitchers throw. You've got to give the pitchers all the credit."

* Historically speaking, Game 3 has been a crucial one for the A's in playoff series. The A's have taken a 2-1 lead in 14 previous series and won 11 of them. They have never come back from a 2-1 series deficit in six tries.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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