NEW YORK — It's never easy to find reasons for optimism in the immediate aftermath of a crushing defeat.
But based on what the A's achieved this season and the abundance of young talent in the organization, it's safe to say this is only the beginning.
“These guys are going to be back in the playoffs,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said without hesitation. “There are some weapons here in the minor leagues that are pretty serious, and that's not counting the younger players already up here. I foresee this team being pretty good the next three, four, five years, for sure.
"There were a lot of special things that happened. I don't think you can take that away just because we had a bad night in a one-game playoff.”
The A's surpassed all expectations in 2018. Coming off three consecutive last-place finishes in the AL West and projected to lose close to 90 games, Oakland instead won 97, finishing with the fourth-best record in all of baseball.
“We feel like with the group we have here together, we're going to get better each and every year," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's disappointing right now but (I told them) to keep their heads up.”
Matt Chapman is 25 years old and already one of the best third basemen in the game. First baseman Matt Olson is just 24. Rookies Ramon Laureano, Nick Martini, Lou Trivino and J.B. Wendelken all proved they can be difference-makers at the major league level. And that doesn't even include Oakland's two top pitching prospects, Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk, both of whom hope to make an impact next season.
“Coming into the season where nobody expected us to do anything, we should be proud of what we achieved,” Chapman said. “I'm proud of my teammates and proud to be on this team, and I think this is just the beginning for us.”
Blake Treinen had a night to forgot when the closer came in early during the sixth inning. The A's closer finished the regular season with the lowest ERA in MLB history at 0.78, but he allowed three earned runs in two innings on a two-run triple and deep fly from Giancarlo Stanton.
Still, Treinen couldn't help but be positive.
“I think there's a lot to look back on and be excited about,” Treinen said. “If you told us at the beginning of the year that we'd have 97 wins, about five guys with career years, and an opportunity to be in a Wild Card Game against a team with 100 wins, I think we'd all take that.”
The heavy-hitting A's scored just two runs, both off Khris Davis' two-run poke over the right field fence. Davis already is looking forward to 2019.
“I think we took a step forward,” the MLB home run leader said. “I'm excited for next year.”
Wednesday's wild card loss will sting for a while, and it should. The A's fully believed they could beat the Yankees. But when the pain wears off, Oakland can turn its attention to a bright future.
“I told them all in all it was a great season and I was proud of them,” Melvin said. “Hopefully this is just the start for us.”