The Oakland A’s season was on life support. And, down late again, the A’s didn’t have the late-inning spark to stay alive. Oakland’s season ends in Los Angeles with a 11-6 loss to their bitter division rivals, falling 3-1 in the series.
With that, the A’s have lost each of their last three trips to the ALDS, failing to advance to their first ALCS since 2006. Their three-game elimination game win streak snapped as the AL West champions exited this strange season in disappointing defeat.
Carlos Correa challenged Astros opposers angry that the team popped for stealing signs could make another run for a title. Correa talked the talk, and he and Houston’s talented lineup could walk the walk.
The Home Run Derby continued, yet again. Ramon Laureano hit a three-run home run off Zack Greinke and a solo home run off a slider again to lead off the fifth. The A’s one-time troop rally-er could only seem to rally himself Thursday – those were all the runs the A’s could create.
Though the A’s 12 home runs in the series set a franchise Division Series, a few more couldn’t have hurt. Matt Olson nearly cleared the fence in the fourth, Josh Reddick robbed him. Down five runs in the seventh, two on, Marcus Semien hit what looked like a sure-fire home run that just died at the wall and into Kyle Tucker’s glove.
The A’s postseason hopes died with that ball.
In truth, the A’s offense were always looking at an uphill climb. An undeniable strength in the regular season with a league-leading 2.72 ERA, the A’s bullpen looked listless and vulnerable against Houston’s potent bats.
They’d shoulder most of the work with none of the A’s starters – between Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Jesus Luzardo and, Thursday, Frankie Montas – able to get past the fifth inning. Montas found himself on the bad end of one of Houston’s big innings, surrendering five runs and the lead in the fourth inning. In all, the A’s starters accumulated a 8.82 ERA in four games.
But the bullpen couldn’t keep games in reach like they had all year. The comeback magic the A’s prided themselves on was dependent on a lockdown army of relievers.
Thursday, J.B. Wendelken, Joakim Soria and Jake Diekman – three of the game’s most consistent arms – allowed six runs collectively. The A’s pitching staff gave up 32 runs in four games. The A’s could only muster 20 against an Astros staff missing its ace in Justin Verlander, riding on the energy of a young bullpen.