Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 10/6/12
DETROIT -- The official attendance for Game 1 of the Tigers-Athletics series was 43,323. Pat Neshek is convinced that there was at least one more. Pitching just three days after the death of his newborn son, Neshek entered Saturday's game in the seventh inning with two runners on and one out. Fighting overpowering emotions, he nearly got Omar Infante to ground into an inning-ending double play, but Infante beat the relay to first. With runners now on the corners, Neshek struck out Austin Jackson with a hard-breaking slider. "I know it sounds like a cliche, but I really felt like there was someone watching over me and helping me throw that last pitch," Neshek said, fighting back tears. "That was the best slider I've thrown all year." Neshek's wife Stephanee had the same thought, posting a picture of a baby-sized A's outfit to Twitter. "This was going to be Gehrig's first outfit," she said. "I know he will be watching Pat and he is so proud of his daddy." Neshek said he had hoped that getting back on the mound would clear his mind, at least for a few minutes, but that didn't work. "It was really tough warming up, because I never stopped thinking about him," he said. "Even on the mound, he never left my thoughts. I just grabbed the baseball and tried to do my job, but he was always there." After striking out Jackson, Neshek made his way off the field, he looked toward his wife and reached up to touch the "GJN" patch on his right sleeve -- a patch being worn by the Athletics to honor Gehrig John Neshek's short life. "I couldn't see Stephanee, but I knew where she was sitting," he said. "That gesture -- all of this -- was for all three of us." Saturday's performance comes at the end of a week that has seen Neshek's family go through an incredible rollercoaster of emotions. On Monday, as Oakland celebrated clinching an improbable playoff berth, Neshek learned that his wife had gone into labor. Gehrig Neshek was born without trouble on Tuesday, and the new family celebrated Wednesday afternoon as the Athletics beat the Rangers to win the American League West title. That evening -- just 23 hours after his birth -- Gehrig suddenly stopped breathing, dying as baffled doctors tried to save him. An autopsy has been scheduled, but as of now, the Nesheks don't know what caused Gehrig's death. "That was the best day of my life -- I will never forget what we had with him, even if it was just 23 hours," Pat Neshek said. "After that, though, we didn't know what to do. We were just sitting and wondering what to do next, and Stephanee said that we needed to get out of the house and try to get our lives back, so we should come to Detroit with the team." When Neshek joined the Athletics, manager Bob Melvin knew exactly what he was going to do. "If Pat was here, and he wanted to pitch, he was going on the playoff roster," Melvin said. "I didn't have to discuss that with him, and I didn't have to think twice. He's a key member of this team, and if he wanted to be here, he was going to be on the field with us." Melvin was just as decisive Saturday when it came time to replace starter Jarrod Parker in the seventh. "We wanted to try to get him into a game sooner rather than later," he said. "I don't know if there is ever a soft landing spot in the playoffs, but that certainly wasn't one. He did a great job, though. He almost got a double play, and then he got a strikeout." Neshek's performance drew cheers from the Comerica Park crowd and admiration from both teams and around baseball. "It's unbelievable what Pat is doing," teammate Josh Reddick said. "If something like that had happened to me, I'm not sure I would have even been able to sleep at this point, and he's here with us, getting big outs in a playoff game. It's incredible." Tigers catcher Alex Avila agreed. "My wife is pregnant right now, and I can't even imagine what he's going through," he said. "I know he's a tough guy, but now he has my respect forever. That was pretty tough right there." Neshek's courageous outing even drew applause from another pitcher famous for making a gutty postseason out -- Curt Schilling. Schilling pitched a key game for the Red Sox with blood seeping through his sock from a surgically repaired ankle. "My ankle was a scratch compared to what Pat Neshek just did, not even in the same universe," he tweeted, moments after Neshek struck out Jackson. Neshek won't have much time to think about the night's events -- Game 2 is scheduled to start just 15 hours after the end of Game 1 -- but this week will be something that he never forgets. "We'll never get over this -- that's not how it works," he said. "But this is the way we start to put things back together."
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Five most anticipated September MLB call-ups
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Wentz unlikely to see any playing time this season

Minnesota Wild names Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ official goal song

Gabby Douglas joining judges for Miss America pageant

Recruit decommits from Michigan after mail mistake

Dez Bryant reportedly suffers concussion at practice

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Kobe Bryant to be honored with his own day in LA on 8/24

Colts sign Antonio Cromartie

Connor McDavid: 'I’m not some 18-year-old kid anymore'

Aguayo seeks out mental coach after missing kicks

Josh Norman unloads on Goodell: He is 'straight horrible'

Siemian named Broncos starter for third preseason game

One Gotta Go: NFL legends (and Jose Canseco!) have no love for Captain America

Four WNBA teams to pay attention to post-Olympic break

Ranking the uniforms of the NFL from worst to best

Madden 17 shows how vital a fresh coat of paint can be

Why people just can't get behind the Washington Nationals

Washington's Josh Norman speaks candidly about multiple NFL talking points

Derrick Rose: Knicks have chance to win every game

Ranking the MLB divisional races

Inside the Pokemon World Championships, where masters are born

NFL players under most pressure in preseason Week 3

Tre Mason's mother: RB is like '10-year-old' due to head injuries

What we learned from this year's baffling SummerSlam event

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

One Gotta Go: NFL legends (and Jose Canseco!) have no love for Captain America

Ranking the uniforms of the NFL from worst to best

Four WNBA teams to pay attention to post-Olympic break

Madden 17 shows how vital a fresh coat of paint can be

Why people just can't get behind the Washington Nationals

QUIZ: Name every player to win a championship with Kobe Bryant

Inside the Pokemon World Championships, where masters are born

What we learned from this year's baffling SummerSlam event

Football Down Under: Looking back at college football overseas

31 memories from the XXXI Olympiad

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker