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Crisp finds redemption with home run-saving grab

OAKLAND -- Shortly after Tuesday's 2-0 win over the Tigers in Game 3 of the American League Division Series to stave off elimination, the A's Coco Crisp stood in front of his locker answering the same set of questions over and over again from a rotating swarm of reporters.

How was he able to catch that ball? How did he feel now after that crucial drop in Game 2?

And for nearly 45 minutes, Crisp patiently answered every question, giving his account of his second-inning sprinting catch that preserved a one-run lead and, most importantly, Oakland's early momentum.

But following a Game 2 loss just two days prior in which a bobbled drop by Crisp on a catchable seventh-inning fly ball erased an A's lead by allowing two runs to score, the veteran center fielder was answering a different line of questioning about his play with his own confidence in his defense in flux.

"You can lose a little bit of confidence," Crisp said after Tuesday's win. "I'm glad we had that off-day [Monday] to give me the chance to catch some fly balls. I've been playing this game for a long time, but it's a tough situation, obviously. It definitely weighed on me. But to make a play like that, that definitely resets you mentally. It definitely builds your confidence back up."

Prince Fielder's 400-foot blast in the second may have been on its way for a game-tying home run, but Crisp, running at full speed, made a leaping catch before slamming into the center-field wall with the ball safely in his glove.

Brett Anderson, the beneficiary of Crisp's remarkable catch, followed by allowing singles to Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta before getting two straight groundouts to end the inning. He would depart after six shutout innings, with those two singles the only hits he allowed.

"You see him hit it and you put your head down -- you think you gave up a home run," Anderson said. "And it kick-starts you to make pitches and get through the innings, and we scored early and set the tone from there. I was able to pitch and let my defense make plays behind me. It was a good overall team effort."

Crisp credited A's first-base coach Tye Waller for giving him pregame instructions of shading toward left field whenever the left-handed Fielder was up, which allowed him to make the catch on the left side of the Coliseum's spacious center field. And though his defensive confidence may have wavered in the time between Games 2 and 3, there was no shortage of it as he locked his eyes on Fielder's fly ball, never taking a second to peek at the looming center-field wall.

"Not to be all overconfident or anything, I think I'm going to catch everything out there," Crisp said. "Obviously, it doesn't happen that way -- duh, Detroit, right? But I have enough confidence in myself, and as ballplayers when you get to this level, most people have that in them. In my mind, I've got that belief that I'm going to make the play."

Jay Lee is an associate reporter for
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