Sept. 30, 2014 is a date A's general manager David Forst wishes he could forget. It nearly has been six years, but Forst still relives the nightmare every single MLB season.
That date represents the 2014 AL Wild Card Game, one in which the A's blew a late lead against the Kansas City Royals on the road and lost, 9-8, at Kauffman Stadium. Forst recently told ESPN's Alden Gonzalez the loss was the "lowest point" of his 20-plus-year career in the A's front office.
"It was brutal, just the way that game played out," Forst told Gonzalez. "When I want to torture myself, I'll still go back and look at the play-by-play in that game."
Forst watched the first five innings from a suite at Kauffman Stadium. At that point, his A's were down 3-2 and he changed locations, moving to the visiting clubhouse in the sixth inning. The A's exploded that inning for five runs, taking a commanding 7-3 lead. But then came the bottom of the eighth inning.
Jon Lester, the game's starting pitcher and midseason acquisition in a trade that sent Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox, quickly ran into trouble. He gave up one run and only got one out by the time manager Bob Melvin turned to his bullpen with two men on base. The Royals scored three runs in the eighth inning and tied the game, 7-7, in the ninth.
While the A's took a one-run lead in the 12th, the Royals scored two runs in the bottom half of the inning to walk it off and end Oakland's season.
The A's have lost the AL Wild Card Game three times since 2014, including that loss to the Royals, and have fallen in back-to-back years in the one-game playoff. It was their goal to win the AL West this season, and avoid the dreaded wild card game. So far, so good.
For one, there are no wild card game this season with expanded playoffs after the 60-game regular season. The A's also entered Wednesday with the best record in the AL at 21-10. If the playoffs were to end today, they would be facing the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game series.
Forst never wants to relive that same hurt from 2014 again. And this season's team is giving him hope this could be Oakland's year to hoist the World Series trophy.