Yellow towels filled the Coliseum Wednesday night, as 54,005 fans turned out only to watch the Oakland A’s end their season with a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Fans set a record for the highest attendance to ever witness a wildcard game, but after Sean Manaea took the mound, the “let’s go Oakland” chants got quieter by the third when the A’s trailed 4-0 after Manaea (L, 0-1, 18.00 ERA) gave up four runs off four hits before being relieved in the third.
Bob Melvin gave credit to Manaea:
“What, he gives up four hits, three of them are homers, doesn’t walk anyone, he strikes out five. They just got some balls up middle that they could do some damage with. It looked to me, same pitch three times… It is kinda our game, they kinda beat us with our game and we were normally a home run hitting team and we couldn’t do much.”
First baseman Yandy Diaz had two of three homers off Manaea, both solo shots, leading off the first and third innings. Yusmeiro Petit relieved Manaea and gave up the fourth home run of the night in the fifth inning to Tommy Pham making it 5-1.
Liam Hendiks, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning, talked about Manaea’s pitching performance:
“He looked fine. I think they just jumped on a couple of high fast balls. At the end of the day, they jumped on his mistakes. He didn’t make too many of them but the one’s that he did they took advantage of. That is what you have to do to win. Take advantage of the pitchers mistakes.”
Matt Chapman felt bad for the fans and appreciated their support throughout the entire game. He said he wanted to give them something to cheer about but the team let the fans and each other down:
“We had a lot of opportunities today, we had bases loaded in the first, we had Morton on the ropes a few times but that is what great pitchers do. They make pitches when they have to and he executed good pitches and they made some nice plays and you just have to tip your cap. They beat us fair and square. They jumped out, they hit some homers, they pitched well, played good defense and they deserved to win that game and there is no excuses over here, it just hurts.”
The A’s trailed 1-0 in the first inning. With the bases loaded after a Semien base hit and two walks, Jurikson Profar was almost hit by a pitch which would have walked in a run to tie it early. Bob Melvin on the first inning:
“We made him throw upwards to 30 something pitches, we made them work. He was walking some guys, sometimes that kinda sets the tone for later on in the game but he responded after that and we couldn’t put together and inning like that where we had multiple guys on base and his back was at the wall. He made a big pitch when he had to, to get out of the first but never got into a position like that afterward.”
The A’s first run of the night was unearned after Marcus Semien approached the plate to “MVP” chants. He hit a routine grounder to Michael Brosseau at third, who had been playing second until Brandon Lowe pinch hit for Matt Duffy. Brosseau couldn’t make the throw to first, and the ball bounced just in front of first baseman Diaz, and Semien landed at third on the throwing error.
Ramon Laureano hit a sacrifice fly to shallow right field and Avisaíl Garcia, who hit a two-run homer in the second inning, overthrew home and Semien scored. Two bad throws allowed the earned run. Charlie Morton
(W, 1-0, 0.00 ERA) didn’t allow an earned run, and he walked off the mound with a 5-1 Tampa Bay cushion.
The A’s out hit the Rays 8-7 but just couldn’t get in sync with one another. The A’s won 17 games when behind 4 runs this year, but they couldn’t do it when it mattered most.
The A’s now hold the longest losing streak in elimination games in MLB history, with nine straight losses.
Hendriks spoke about how special the team is and about the goals the team had this season:
“It is not one of the streaks that you would like to focus on, it is not something that I know of personally. But at the end of the day, we lost two in a row like now and that is two too many in our eyes. We came into the season not only hoping we would make the playoffs but win the division and it didn’t work that way … Happy for those guys, obviously it sucks for us and now we work together and we can work on what we can do next year.”
Playing at home was no advantage for the A’s on Wednesday. The fans were loud but the green and gold couldn’t change the momentum of the game even though the fans stayed faithful the entire nine innings. It was an unfortunate show and tough loss in Oakland.
The team is ready to move on and focus on next year. Winning their division and playing a post season series may be their best option after losing the wild card twice in a row, once away and at home. Bob Melvin has faith in the future of this organization:
“We have won a lot of games the last couple years. What we need to do probably is win the division if we want to play a longer series. We are in a tough division as it is but proud of what they did this year. We just got beaten one game and everybody in there is pretty upset about it.”