Leaving town 2-0 — Whoa!
Wow. To be honest with you, being up 2-0 in the series is something I don?t think any of us expected. Coming in, I think we would have been happy with a split, because nobody could have thought we?d come in and win both.
That just goes to show you how huge Game 1 was for us. That obviously feeds your fuel to go out and win Game 2 and just drive the nail in, so Game 1 set the tone for everything. It kind of put their backs against the wall, and it kind of put us in the driver seat. All of a sudden we had the leeway to lose Game 2, which makes you play a little bit looser — as opposed to being down 0-1, when all the pressure?s on you to get back to even. Conventional wisdom definitely did not have us leaving here 2-0.
Mark Kotsay?s inside-the-parker is obviously the big story today, and that was unbelievable. The fact that Kots can go out there, after playing in the league for 10 years without making it to the playoffs, and have a great moment like that, it?s storybook stuff. Amazing. And I love seeing him get some credit for once. The guy is so good, and defensively, he?s second to none. He should be getting Gold Gloves, and it is ironic that his homer came at the expense of Torii Hunter, another Gold Glover. It?s just great to see Kots absolutely thrive in his first playoff series. That he can come out and not worry about screwing up and just play his game, that shows you what a pro he is.
What Huston Street did today was huge, too. He had to battle some injuries this year and actually pitched through some of them, and he had a tough time there at the end of September. But here he is, 23 years old and on the biggest stage of his life, and he finds a way to get it done. Without that crazy ball in the ceiling yesterday, it would have been a 1-2-3 inning, and today, yeah, it was dicey there at the end, but the bottom line is he went out there with a three-run lead, and we won by three runs. Last time I checked, that?s what closers are supposed to do.
A lot of people have asked me how this team is different from the 2001 and 2003 teams, and I guess they think they?re being sneaky, asking me about us blowing 2-0 leads in the first round those years without mentioning the blowing specifically. But come on. I?m a jock, not a dumb jock. Nobody?s that dumb.
But for the record, here?s my answer, from the heart: Every team is different, even from one year to the next. Different players, different personalities, different mindsets. And I?m not going to say this team is better equipped to avoid blowing this kind of lead, because that?s a shot at those other teams, and I loved those teams. I never thought in a million years we?d blow those leads. But this team, I can assure you, is not in any kind of freak-out mode, thinking, ?Oh my god. Here we go again. Hope we don?t blow it.? It?s not that at all. We?re just a bunch of guys who play hard and will keep playing hard until they tell us we can?t play anymore. We don?t have many guys who experienced the whole A?s playoff saga. There?s probably 21, 22 guys who weren?t here for any of it, so they?re not like, ?Man, we gotta find a way to get out of the first round.? That?s not what they?re playing for, so it?s not in their psyches.
So now we?re heading home for Game 3 on Friday, and I?m so excited to see Dan Haren pitch for us. Haren is a great friend of mine. I love Haren. I love the way he pitches, and I love how he deals with pitching. We?ve had a lot of deep talks about pitching and mindsets and stuff like that, and I?m just looking forward to sitting back and watching my boy carve.
I?ll check in again from the workout Thursday in Oakland. Thanks for reading — and for writing in.