OAKLAND -- All season long, the A's boasted one of the most powerful and productive offenses in all of baseball. Well, at least until the final week of the season.
Something strange happened a week and a half ago. Beginning last Sunday, Oakland's bats suddenly went silent.
In the final seven games of the regular season, the A's pushed across just 16 runs, an average of 2.3 per game, failing to surpass three runs in a single game.
Unfortunately, the offensive slump carried over into the Wild Card Game, where Oakland managed just one unearned run in its 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. After the game, the A's struggled to find an explanation for the sudden drought.
"Probably just bad timing," offered first baseman Matt Olson.
Suggested third baseman Matt Chapman: "I think just a coincidence."
Whatever the cause, it ended up costing the A's their season. Including the Wild Card Game, Oakland tallied just 17 runs in its last eight games, going 0 for its last 31 with runners in scoring position.
"It's just baseball," said outfielder Ramon Laureano. "We play 162 games. It's a roller-coaster. You're going to go up and down. It just happened that (in) the last week, we didn't score that many runs. It's that simple."
A's manager Bob Melvin rejected the idea that the team's sluggish finish to the regular season had any effect on Wednesday's performance, however.
"I think it's a clean slate," he said. "I don't think there's much carryover once you get to the postseason. They pitched really well. We got eight singles, couldn't do much with runners in scoring position. They did more damage on their hits than we did ours. I don't think anybody came into the game thinking about what we did offensively the last week of the season. We just couldn't string anything together."
Added Chapman: "Come playoff time, fresh stats, fresh attitude. Everybody was ready to go. I think we took good at-bats. It's just, they threw out some good arms. [Charlie] Morton started that game for a reason. They went out and got that guy because he's pitched in Game 7s. He's an ace. He knows what he's doing. When he had to make a pitch, he did, and he beat us."
The A's had their best chance in the very first inning when they were still down just 1-0. Oakland put two runners on base with one out, then loaded the bases with two outs. Jurickson Profar worked the count to 2-2 before flying out to right field to end the inning.
"You know what, I felt like it was a successful first inning because we made (Morton) throw upwards of 30 pitches," Melvin said. "We made him work. He was walking some guys. Sometimes that kind of sets the tone for later on in the game, but he responded after that.
"We couldn't put together an inning like that where we had multiple guys on base. His back was (against) the wall and he made a big pitch to get out of the first and never got in a position like that again afterward."
So as the Rays move on to face Houston in the ALDS, the A's are once again left searching for answers as they prematurely head into the offseason.