The Oakland Athletics still can’t get over the hump.
Despite a relentless squad that challenged for an AL West title and won 97 games during the regular season, the A’s losing streak in winner-take-all postseason games extended to an MLB record eight with Wednesday’s 7-2 AL wild-card loss to the New York Yankees.
It’s a streak that’s as painful as it is improbable. The odds tell us there’s a 50-50 chance to win when it comes down to a single game. Especially in the MLB postseason, where home-field advantage and regular season dominance means very little. Yet no matter if the A’s were considered favorites or underdogs, as was the case Wednesday against the Yankees, they’ve found a way to lose what amounts to eight straight coin flips.
Oakland previously shared the record with the Cleveland Indians. Worth noting, the Indians streak is still in progress and could also be extended this postseason.
For now, it’s the A’s record to own and carry with them into future. A future which, despite Wednesday’s loss, still looks pretty bright. There’s a solid core in place in Oakland. They’re not a perfect team by any means. They’ll need to do some work this offseason to rebuild the starting rotation and keep their sturdy bullpen intact. But they’ve shown impressive resilience all season long.
It’s also hardly the 2018 team’s fault that A’s fans have had to endure so many postseason heartbreaks. The streak dates back to 2000, when the A’s began a Buffalo Bills like run of four straight years losing the ALDS in a decisive Game 5.
Two of those came to the New York Yankees. The first six losses during this streak came during the ALDS. The last two have come in the wild card round.
Since 2000, A's are 4-14 in elimination games.
0-6 in ALDS Game 5s.
2000 ALDS vs NYY (lost in 5)
2001 ALDS vs NYY (lost in 5, up 2-0)
2002 ALDS vs MIN (lost in 5)
2003 ALDS vs BOS (lost in 5, up 2-0)
2012 ALDS vs DET (lost in 5)
2013 ALDS vs DET (lost in 5)
2014 WC vs KC (lost)
— Matt Ortega (@MattOrtega) October 2, 2018
As noted in the tweet, the A’s have survived elimination games during the streak. They just haven’t won a game with both teams season on the line.
Most crushing moments
The A’s have been dealt some serious gut punches during this streak.
Whether it was Tino Martinez’s first-inning, three-run double for the Yankees in Game 5 of the 2000 ALDS. Or David Ortiz’s two-run double for the Minnesota Twins in 2002. Or Manny Ramirez three-run home run for the Boston Red Sox one year later. Or even Aaron Judge’s two-run first-inning homer Wednesday. The A’s have been hit hard and unable to recover.
It didn’t help that they ran into Justin Verlander in ALDS Game 5 in both 2012 and 2013. They combined to score zero runs in those games. In the 2014 AL wild-card game, they scored eight runs. And still lost, 9-8, to the Kansas City Royals.
Each and every one of these losses have hurt in their own way.
Last winner-take-all win came in 1973 World Series
It’s amazing to think it’s been 45 years since the A’s last won a winner-take-all game. It came at a good time at least. The A’s topped the New York Mets 5-2 in Game 7 of the 1973 World Series.
The heroes that day? Bert Campaneris and Reggie Jackson, who each hit two-run homers, and winning pitcher Ken Holtzman.
The A’s would win two more World Series (1974, 1989) between then and the start of the unfortunate streak. But those are all distant memories for some. For others, they’re old stories they’ve only heard. The latest generation of A’s fans only know heartbreak.
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