Los Angeles – The Houston Astros move on to their fourth straight American League Championship Series while the Oakland A’s ponder what’s next. In another must-win performance, the A’s fell short today when they lost 11-6 to the Astros.
It was an incredible season that ended too soon. Oakland made their ninth appearance in the Division Series, their first since 2013 against the Detroit Tigers. Unfortunately, for the A’s they failed to move on again and this time, their pitching was not their biggest asset.
“I think in the postseason you tend to go to your bullpen a little bit earlier anyway, said Oakland’s manager Bob Melvin. “We just couldn’t hold them down in any facet as far as the pitching went. We had some stretches where we did both out of the bullpen and out of the rotation but nothing sustained through nine innings and that’s why they won the series.”
Houston recored four home runs, Michael Brantley homered twice and Carols Correa drove in three runs and had 5 RBIs. Frankie Montas made his first postseason start and lasted only 3.1 frames. He gave up seven hits, five runs (including two home runs), one walk and struck out three.
“You look at the numbers over the course of the regular season with our bullpen, if we had a lead after the sixth, we usually won,” Melvin said. “That didn’t happen in this series and we struggled to hold them down the entire game at times. They’re just a good offensive team and they hit their stride at the right time.”
The A’s jumped on the board early with a three-run lead. Ramon Laureano homered on a fly ball to left field and that pumped up the team. But by the fourth, the Astros took the lead after a two-run shot from Brantley and a three-run homer by Correa.
Laureano added a solo blast in the fifth to cut the lead 5-4 but Houston continued to dominate in both the fifth and sixth frames. Brantley went yard again bottom of the inning and Correa drove in a run to make it a 7-4 game. The Astros added on four more runs including Jose Altuve’s two-run blast in the seventh.
“It’s a bad feeling, but hopefully it doesn’t happen next year,” said Laureano. “We just need to keep our heads up, keep working, keep dreaming about moving forward and winning a World Series. That’s it.”
“This is a failure. We wanted to win the World Series, and anything short of that was falling short of our goal,” Mark Canha said. “But every failure as a competitor is an opportunity and those opportunities are valuable to learn, and that’s kinda of the message I was trying to tell everybody in the clubhouse, ‘Just learn from this and don’t go down in the dumps. You have to take these failures and learn from them. This is an opportunity to get better.’”
Oakland pitchers have allowed more home runs than walks this postseason and over the last three postseasons. The A’s pitchers have also tossed fewer than five innings in six of the last seven games this postseason. Over the last three years, starters have logged fewer than five frames in seven of eight postseason games.
Oakland didn’t give up, in the ninth they tried to rally behind a few hits from both Marcus Semien and Tommy La Stella who each drove in a run. But the lead was too far, for a comeback with the A’s being down by 5. Looking ahead Oakland has some work of their own to do with free agency approaching.
Semien talked about becoming a free agent for the first time in his career. Semien has spent the last five year in a A’s uniform, after being trade from the Chicago White Sox in 2015, he has been outstanding at shortstop. But he faces unknown territory in free agency and talked about that after the game.
“Our backs were against the wall a couple of time here in the playoffs,” said Semien. “You put that jersey on and take the field, I took the field in the bottom of the eighth and was like, ‘Is this my last time playing shortstop for this team?’ I don’t know.
I’ve never been in this position. I’ve always been with Oakland and before, with the White Sox. The his new to me. I haven’t taken that much time to think about all that, but that was pretty much what I was thinking in the bottom of the eighth.”
“You look at how consistent he was in the playoffs despite his numbers in the season,” Canha said about his friend and teammate. “He has injuries and hardships this year, but he’s a fighter and the ultimate guy you want on your team and I sure hope we get him back. I don’t think that’s lost on anyone in our organization or anywhere else. Marcus is going to be just fine. He’s our captain.”
*Photo by A’s/Twitter