OAKLAND, Calif. -- A 3-year-old boy took over the A's clubhouse Tuesday night. At 11 p.m., as Jayden Moss sat at a table eating spaghetti with his dad, his chirpy voice carried to every weary ear in the room.
"Shouldn't you be asleep by now?" one of his father's grinning teammates asked. Rightfielder Josh Reddick came over to visit, smiling as leaned down to Jayden's level and teased: "Shhh. Too loud."
How does a preschooler become the lone visible source of energy in a major-league clubhouse?
Start with his mother, Allison, driving to the Coliseum parking lot the night before, at 9:45, with him, infant brother Brody, Aunt Ashley (dad's sister) and the family's miniature pinscher, Luger. Mom figures the game will be over soon. She keeps telling herself that as the Angels and A's go through 19 innings of baseball, a game consuming 6 hours and 32 minutes, and ending at 1:41 a.m. -- when Brandon hit the game-winning homer. Until then, the family remains in the parking lot, in a Jeep, the children dozing off.
"They stayed the whole time; I felt terrible," Moss said. "But at least, it ended good."
When they all got home, after a baby feeding and other assorted false starts on sleep, Jayden and his dad end up bunking together in the boy's room from about 5:30 in the morning to 1 p.m. So by 11 that night, the 3-year-old thinks he's in prime play time. His dad and associates have now gone through an additional 3 hours and 39 minutes of baseball -- for a total of 10 hours and 11 minutes in a 28-hour period. They win again, their third in a row, but they look depleted, because they are.
They've called starting pitcher Brett Anderson from the bullpen for 5 1/3 innings of work even though he had been scratched earlier in the day because of an ankle injury, and seen three position players (Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie and Chris Young) bruised badly enough by the marathon that they have to sit out Tuesday's game.
So Jayden's voice becomes their proxy statement, the expression of an exuberance they can feel somewhere beneath the numbness.
"That's the first time I've done something good to end a game and I was just glad it was over," Moss said of what should be the only 1:41 a.m. homer of this season.
The only thing the A's know with absolute clarity after their strange victory and before Tuesday's game is how happy they are not to be the Angels.
"You can't say what it means because you don't know what will come later," says manager Bob Melvin, whose second-place team had lost four straight before Sunday, "but I do know that when you're using every player you have and a starting pitcher is (relieving) for you, it's difficult to lose those games."
The Angels finished April at 9-17 and yielded Peter Bourjos to the 15-day disabled list in that 19-inning Bermuda Triangle. A five-run lead also disappeared on them, then a one-run 15th-inning lead and finally, that ball off the bat of Moss, who freely admitted he had lost the energy to get around on a fastball sometime before midnight.
"It was a really tough one. No sugar coatin' it," Mark Trumbo says. "It would almost be easier to get our… (long pause here) … butts kicked than to go down like that."
Over in the A's clubhouse, leftfielder Seth Smith is joking about how the Moss homer thwarted his move to the pitcher's mound. He would have taken over for Jerry Blevins if the game had reached a 21st inning. "It was bittersweet," Smith says.
A 19-inning game comes with both yawns and punch lines, and the latter seem to be far more abundant.
Now, Blevins is making fun of his first major-league at-bat, in the bottom of the 18th, when the A's had run out of substitution options that could keep the designated-hitter role alive. Blevins says he asked for a bat, helmet and gloves. As he lists the equipment -- a bat from catcher John Jaso, helmet and gloves from starting pitcher Tommy Milone -- Blevins starts to sound like a red-carpet walker listing his designers.
"I got a piece of a foul ball,'' he points out, "so at least I didn't look like a complete fool."
What advice did the coach staff give him? Nothing, he says. Melvin confirms this.
"Just 'good luck,' and said a prayer for him and sent him on his way,'' the manager says. "I tell you, if he got a hit there, he'd be a cult hero for years and years."
Melvin shares his own memory of playing an apparently endless game. He does it in a way that his players should appreciate -- fully acknowledging that extreme extra innings, a dream for fans, can be an athlete's poison.
"I was with the Giants, and we played one in Cincy, might have gone 14 or 15 (innings), and Kevin Mitchell hit a home run to win it for the Reds," he says. "And I was behind the plate and I wanted to pick him up and carry him around the bases. It was about 120 degrees, and I think I lost nine pounds."
Moss will always remember re-enacting his walk-off moment repeatedly with Jayden after they got home. The home run does not take center stage in this father-son drama. A pie-to-the-face ritual does.
Reddick, the A's pieing maestro, tells Moss he had to do the deed himself after the 19th-inning winner. No one else had the energy. So Moss calmly tells TV interviewers, "Hang on a second," then delivers a plate of goop to his face. Reddick follows up with another serving, but the self-pieing has become a video hit.
"My son made me show it to him about 18 times," Moss says. "He didn't care about the home run."
Before Monday's game, he had promised Jayden that if the A's won, he could come into the clubhouse afterward. At 1:41 a.m., that idea loses all its allure.
"Who's your favorite player?" broadcaster Ray Fosse asks as the boy eats his spaghetti. "Brandon Moss," he replies loudly. Dad and his co-workers can't stop smiling. They're exhausted, and this is the perfect diversion.