The stress is over. Well, at least for now.
The A’s advanced to the American League Division Series to take on the Houston Astros after coming out of the AL Wild Card Series victorious against the Chicago White Sox following the 6-4 win on Thursday.
For three-time Manager of the Year Bob Melvin, this A’s team is extra special, and he noticed it from the beginning.
Heading into the season Melvin told NBC Sports California this was the most excited he’s ever been about a specific team as long as he’s been with the A’s organization. Melvin just finished his 10th season as the A’s manager.
“It’s been a close-knit group that’s been together for three years now, less a few additions, few subtractions,” Melvin said after the game.
This was the A’s first playoff series win since 2006. The stretch of the Wild-Card Game’s blunders has been broken and the A's snapped a nine-game losing streak in winner-take-all postseason games.
Melvin had it mapped out before the season started.
“It’s a team that expects to win,” Melvin said.” When we came into spring training this year, we expected to be in this spot. That’s part of the battle -- it’s not easy to do.”
“What comes first -- the confidence or the success? You have to have a little confidence to have success and that’s what we’ve built up the last couple of years and finally built up to this point so all the teams are a little bit different, but I really do like the teams that have been together a little bit, they offer so much," Melvin said.
It had been typical of the A’s to buy and sell to the point where, each season, you would have to reintroduce yourself to the team. That wasn’t the case this year. Most of the team stayed intact. The brotherhood remained.
Despite the coronavirus protocols and media not being able to be as close to the action like normal, you still could see the closeness.
“You can’t put an analytic number on that,” Melvin said. “That’s the stuff that outplays that. I think the thing that’s most impressive about this team is how much they pull for each other.”
The A’s now head to Los Angeles to face the Astros at Dodger Stadium on Monday in a series that will have plenty of storylines.