OAKLAND -- A's center fielder Coco Crisp claimed he didn't know what the word "atonement" meant.
"Can you give me the definition?" he said after the A's 2-0 victory over Detroit on Tuesday night in Game 3 of their American League Division Series. "It feels like I'm in a spelling bee right now. Can you use it in a sentence?"
OK, here's a sentence: Crisp achieved major atonement for his Sunday basket-catch error that led to two Tigers runs and contributed mightily to Oakland's Game 2 loss Sunday in Detroit, the one that put them in a do-or-die hole coming back home.
But Crisp redeemed himself with a spectacular catch at the outset of Game 3's second inning, robbing Prince Fielder of a likely home run on the only ball to the outfield starter Brett Anderson would allow over the first six innings.
Adding to his atonement quotient, Crisp also got the A's rolling before their raucous home crowd, singling to open the bottom of the first and eventually coming around to score on Yoenis Cespedes' RBI single. As it turned out, it was the only run Oakland would need.
Detroit leads the best-of-five series 2-1. Game 4 is Wednesday night.
Crisp was just thankful for another chance, both in the field and at the plate, to show what he could really do -- particularly in the field.
"To be able to make a play like that definitely resets you mentally," he said. "Obviously, it doesn't erase what happened in the previous game, but it definitely builds your confidence back up, and I'm grateful I was able to come up with that."
Crisp acknowledged that the Sunday error had been haunting him.
"It's been tough," he said. "I'm glad we had the off day Monday so I could come in and catch some fly balls. You try your best to hold on to your confidence when you've played this game for a long time. Still, it's a tough situation when something like that happens in the playoffs, and it can weigh on you. It definitely weighed on me."
Crisp made just two errors in 113 games during the regular season, and neither involved a dropped ball. Long regarded as one of the best center fielders in the league, particularly on catches at the fence, he wasn't completely sure he had a chance on Fielder's long drive to the fence.
"You never know off the bat," he said. "As I'm running towards it, I'm getting closer and it kind of faded away at the last minute. But I was able to feel the warning track, and I was able to gauge it and time my jump properly. Playing in the home ballpark, you know the distance of how far you're away from the wall, so that made it nice."
Crisp caught the ball with his glove above the wall, then crashed into the padded fence and left a dent. Anderson, watching from the mound, couldn't believe it.
"I was hoping for a double off the wall or something," he said. "You look up at how well he hit it, and you put your head down. But then Coco makes that tremendous catch, and now you'll see it as many times as 'SportsCenter' decides to play it."
Even if the A's aren't able to come back in series, Crisp said just getting the monkey off his back from Sunday's gaffe was key for his psyche.
"To be able to have another game, and not have to go into the offseason after something like that, is definitely a blessing for me," he said. "If that would been the last game and that would have happened, it would have been very tough. It's still tough. But I was fortunate to get another opportunity, and I was able to do better this time.
"Once I caught it, I was very excited. It was a tough play, a big play, and when I was able to come up with it, it was a very satisfying feeling."
As for igniting the offense in the first inning, Crisp said he was very conscious of making a statement right away for his team.
"When your back is against the wall, it's always nice to get ahead," he said. "That's the case in any game, but definitely in this situation."