Anger. Frustration. Disappointment.
For the third straight year, the Oakland A’s season has ended well short of their goal. Their 11-6 loss to the Houston Astros on Thursday is not what the A’s expected, but if 2020 has taught us anything, we should expect the unexpected.
“When you lose in the ALDS, it’s not exactly where you want to be,” Marcus Semien said. “We knew that we had the pieces to go further and our goal was always a World Series.”
A’s players will go through the stages of grief over the next hours, days and weeks. For now, the immediate emotion is a raw feeling that has become all too familiar.
“It’s a bad feeling, you know, but hopefully it doesn’t happen next year,” centerfielder Ramon Laureano said following the loss. “We’ve got to keep our head up, keep working, keep dreaming about moving forward and winning a World Series.”
Oakland came into the postseason limping a bit. They lost third baseman Matt Chapman and all he brings to the game.
But their series with the Astros really came down to the team’s inability to keep the ball in the park and the pitching staff’s inability to get shutdown innings after the offense put runs on the board.
Regardless of the shortened season or playing in a bubble, the team didn’t live up to their own expectations, which is a painful reality.
“It just hurts, it hurts a lot,” Canha said. “We worked so hard and we competed. It was kind of a crazy year. It felt like this was our year and a lot of things happened.”
The A’s had the talent to play with anyone, but they didn’t quite reach their overall potential. They also ran into a team that got hot at the right moment.
Houston played extremely well. They fell behind in every game, but found ways to not only recover, but build huge leads of their own. They are heading to their fourth straight ALCS and the A’s are once again forced to look at themselves in the mirror.
“It’s a failure, we wanted to win a World Series, anything short of that is falling short of our goal,” Mark Canha said. “But every failure as a competitor is an opportunity and those opportunities are valuable to learn.”
Three straight years of opportunities lost is enough to frustrate any team. It also means that changes are inevitable.
The A’s have plenty of free agents to deal with, including Semien, who will be tough to retain. This was a season where the team went all in and unfortunately, they are unlikely to return next year with the same squad.
Losing to the Astros adds a different element to the series. There is bad blood between the two franchises that spilled onto the field earlier in the season. But when you have a goal of winning it all, you have to look past the team you are facing and any personal angst you have towards them.
“It was the farthest from my mind wanting to beat the Astros extra,” Canha said. “It was just wanting to play good baseball and our brand of baseball.”
To a certain degree, the A’s played their brand of baseball. They forced Astros pitchers to work and they relied heavily on the long ball. Unfortunately, Houston had a better stretch of games.
“Our goals were lofty and we fell short of them,” manager Bob Melvin said.
It’s back to the drawing board for the A’s. They’ve once again been eliminated from the playoffs and they have major decision to make all over the diamond.