Game-winning hit small part of Vogt’s long journey to A’s 

click to enlarge Stephen Vogt
  • AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
  • Oakland Athletics' Stephen Vogt gets a Gatorade shower after making the game-winning hit to beat the Detroit Tigers 1-0 in Game 2 of the American League baseball Division Series in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013.
Stephen Vogt triumphantly raised his right arm as he took off for first and did it again with a celebratory whipped cream pie covering his face. Then, once more for the cheering crowd as he left the field following another improbable A’s walkoff win.

No doubt Vogt will cherish that moment. Thanks to him and fellow rookie Sonny Gray, the A’s headed to Detroit tied with the Tigers at one win apiece in their best-of-five AL division series after Vogt’s winning hit in a 1-0 victory Saturday night.

“It’s a crazy feeling,” a tired Vogt said Sunday in Detroit following an overnight flight. “Haven’t really processed what happened last night. It’s been a whirlwind. It’s been a crazy, crazy few hours, I suppose.”

Make that a crazy six months.

This spring, the catcher sat for six days in Durham, N.C., wondering about his baseball future. He didn’t make the Rays’ opening-day roster and figured to start the season there at Triple-A.

A pennant race, let alone playoffs, were never even a thought.

Fast forward to October, and he’s a playoff star.

Vogt left the Tampa Bay organization for the Bay Area on April 5, traded back home to his native California, only a couple of hours from where he grew up and still lives in Visalia.

“Going into this season, I told myself I was obviously going to be with Tampa and battling for playing time up there and in Durham, playing my three positions, moving around and hopefully hit well enough to get a call up,” Vogt said.

Then, there he was Saturday night in a thrilling at-bat against one of baseball’s best pitchers.

After striking out twice against Justin Verlander, Vogt fouled off seven pitches — including the initial five — in a 10-pitch at-bat that ended the seventh. His next time up, he lined a bases-loaded single into left-center that won the game.

Vogt’s opportunity came after John Jaso sustained a season-ending concussion when he took a ball off his mask July 24 at Houston.

Melvin has enough confidence in Vogt to carry three catchers on the playoff roster, along with Kurt Suzuki and Derek Norris.

“At this point it really feels like he’s been here quite a while with us because he’s done such a good job with the pitching staff and has acclimated very quickly,” Melvin said.

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