Athletics

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

yankeeswin01-ap.jpg
AP

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

Fox’ Matt Vasgersian, who does his job well,  declared the New York Yankees’ American League Division Series win over Cleveland to be amazing.

It is not. Not any more.

In fact, the Yankees winning three elimination games in succession is a feat that has happened seven times in the past three years. And we can only conclude from that that they’re not making teams that can avoid the bad beat the way they used to.

The 2017 Indians joined the 2016 Indians, Warriors and Thunder, the 2015 Clippers, Capitals and Texas Rangers, the 2014 Penguins and Sharks, the 2013 Red Wings, the 2012 Reds and Cardinals, the 2011 Penguins, the 2010 Bruins and Capitals as proud laryngectomy victims – teams that needed to win only one of three (or in the Sharks’ case, four) games to advance in the playoffs (or in the Warriors’ case, win).

That’s 15 times this “amazing” thing has happened, which means that by any estimate, teams that needed to win three consecutive games to escape the icy hand of Uncle Death are now pretty much the norm in this decade.

And why, you ask? I blame Twitter. I blame global warming. I blame video games. I blame smartphones. I blame phones. I blame the new president. I blame the old president. I blame Satan. I blame participation trophies and orange slices and juice boxes. I blame the players and I blame the owners and I blame the fans and definitely those smarmy bastards in the media. They’re the worst.

I blame you. Hell, I think I blame Matt Vasgersian.

But whomever is at fault, we have here an epidemic of feet strangling their owners when everything seems their cheeriest. And unless we live in such misery-enriched times that good times are only precursors to far worse ones, there is no sensible explanation. Players’ windpipes are no smaller than they were a decade ago. The Internet is older than seven years. Close-out games are not materially more difficult than they were before 2010.

And yet winning that one extra game is suddenly like finding out your SAT test has been written totally in anagrams. In other words, when things look brightest, that’s when you know you’re totally screwed.

And if you don’t believe me, ask Terry Francona. In a few weeks maybe. Not right away. Not unless you’re keen to see how it feels to have your neck used as a bathmat.

 

Jeurys Familia joins the A's at perfect time and picks up win in debut

Jeurys Familia joins the A's at perfect time and picks up win in debut

Jeurys Familia didn't have a whole lot of time for introductions. The newest Oakland A's reliever arrived at the Coliseum just over an hour before first pitch Sunday, less than 24 hours after being acquired from the New York Mets.

A few hours later, the 28-year-old reliever made his A's debut, with the game on the line, no less. Familia entered a 5-5 tie in the ninth inning and proceeded to pitch two scoreless frames, earning the win when Matt Chapman singled home Marcus Semien in the bottom of the 10th, giving the A's a 6-5 victory over the Giants. 

"When you have that kind of a trade and you come to a new team, first impressions are important," A's manager Bob Melvin admitted in his postgame press conference. "When you pitch the way he did, it makes you feel like part of the team very quickly. He was terrific."

"Unbelievable," Sean Manaea marveled from the A's locker room. "I remember watching him in the World Series a couple years ago, and just watching him today, his stuff is nasty. I'm super excited to have him."

Familia joined the A's at the perfect time, as closer Blake Treinen was unavailable to pitch Sunday after throwing 41 pitches the night before. A former All-Star closer, Familia will primarily be used in a setup role moving forward, but he has no problem with that.

"I'm not really concerned with it," he told reporters after the win, through an interpreter. "Whether I pitch the seventh, eighth, or ninth inning, i just want to help the team win."

Added Melvin: "To come into a tie game, you have to be perfect. To do it two innings in a row, for the first time in front of the fan base and in front of your team, there were probably some nerves involved. It certainly didn't show. It was big."

Prior to this weekend, Familia had spent his entire career in the Mets organization. He was understandably emotional when he found out about the trade.

"It was really difficult," he said. "I spent 11 years there, six years in the big leagues. It was really tough to say goodbye to some of those guys."

But Familia is excited to be on a contender and help form one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. The A's are the only team in MLB without a loss when leading after seven innings (39-0), and now they've added another All-Star closer to the mix. Good luck coming back against that.

A's walk off Giants to clinch 'The Bridge' in trophy's first year

A's walk off Giants to clinch 'The Bridge' in trophy's first year

The Oakland A's won on a walk-off against the San Francisco Giants for the second straight game on Sunday, and picked up a trophy in the process. Sunday's win clinched the Bay Bridge Series, and thus "The Bridge," the trophy designed to commemorate the rivalry. 

"The Bridge" was on the line on Sunday. While the Giants couldn't have won the season series, they still could have won the trophy. Although the Bay Bridge Series would have been tied 3-3, San Francisco would have won "The Bridge" by virtue of winning the series' last game. 

Andrew McCutchen gave the Giants a one-run lead with a solo home run in the eighth inning, but A's slugger Khris Davis erased it with a solo shot of his own (and his second homer of the day) in the next half-inning. 

Oakland first baseman Matt Olson appeared to all but clinch "The Bridge" with a sixth-inning solo homer, his second on Sunday, to give the A's a 4-1 lead. But Pablo Sandoval cut the lead to one with a pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh inning, then Alen Hanson flared a pinch-hit single to run two at-bats later to tie the game 4-4.

"The Bridge," a trophy made from steel of the original San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, commemorates the interleague rivalrly between the Bay Area's big-league baseball teams. It is awarded to the winner of each year's regular-season series.