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A's head into winter hoping to keep team intact

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A's head into winter hoping to keep team intact

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The final rally of Oakland's surprising season fell short.

In a year featuring a majors-best 14 walkoff wins, another in Game 4 of the AL division series, and countless whipped cream pie celebrations along the way, the Athletics' comeback season ended with another dropped series to Detroit.

Yet nobody thought this bunch of rookies and newcomers would even be playing well into October. And few gave them a fighting chance after falling behind 2-0 in the best-of-five series before Oakland pulled off another remarkable rally to force a decisive Game 5.

The Tigers won Thursday's clincher 6-0.

``I didn't see it ending this way, you know?'' closer Grant Balfour said. ``I honestly thought something crazy might happen out there and we'd throw a couple up there and we'd pull it out, but it didn't work out that way. We have to hold our heads high. We had a great year. It's just frustrating when you're that close and you feel like you got a taste of it and someone takes it away from you.''

The AL West champion A's became the first team in major league history to win a division or pennant after trailing by five games with less than 10 to play.

General manager Billy Beane plans to keep his team intact as much as possible heading toward 2013.

Yet manager Bob Melvin had a tough time looking ahead Friday, the sting of losing still too fresh a day later. He planned to fly home to New York on Saturday.

``If you want to go back and reflect on what the expectations were, probably pretty remarkable,'' he said, sitting in his office Friday as players trickled into the clubhouse to pack up their belongings. ``But once you get into it, you are who you are, and it's a pretty empty day. I didn't plan on spending my day like this today.''

This is the club that held not one but two clubhouse clinch parties in three days last week, first when it secured a playoff spot and again after winning the West for the first time in six years.

Melvin was in full support of his team celebrating its feats. Especially considering everything the A's had endured in the final months. From losing opening day starter Brandon McCarthy after he took a line drive to the head that required brain surgery, fellow starter Bartolo Colon to a 50-game drug suspension and then, the unthinkable: Reliever Pat Neshek's newborn son, Gehrig, died 23 hours after his birth just before the playoffs began.

More than anything, they stuck together.

``I think we're in great shape,'' Beane said. ``The satisfying thing about the crowd last night is they're going to see, by and large, this team next year. We're going to try to continue the momentum in the winter, and we should be able to build on this. I really like this group.''

Josh Reddick, whose big bat fueled a stunning run to overtake Texas for the AL West crown on the season's final day, struck out 10 times in the series and the A's finished with 50 Ks - the most in franchise history in a five-game series.

He was hardly the only one in a series of swings and misses by a team that was red-hot and riding high only a week ago.

``We came a long way and accomplished a lot, so we're obviously upset that it didn't go very far,'' Reddick said. ``But on the other hand very proud of everybody's accomplishments this year, personal and team-wise. I feel like we made a huge mark on this league.''

This energetic young group with 12 rookies heads into the offseason as great overachievers. Owner Lew Wolff has said it, Beane hinted at it and even Manager of the Year candidate Melvin said most everybody else in baseball would never have seen this coming from the low-budget club.

The A's payroll of $59.5 million is lowest in the majors, and the A's won 94 games.

That's after Beane traded away three of his top pitchers last winter to rebuild: Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals, Trevor Cahill to Arizona and All-Star closer Andrew Bailey to Boston.

He doesn't expect to unload the same way this offseason considering the youth of the team. Beane hopes to bring back would-be free agents Jonny Gomes and McCarthy and pick up Balfour's $4.5 million club option for 2013.

Upstart Oakland made a remarkable September surge, then swept and stunned the two-time reigning AL champion Texas Rangers in the season-ending series to capture the AL West crown in Game No. 162. That set off a second celebratory dance party in the clubhouse in three days after Oakland first secured a playoff spot Oct. 1.

``It's definitely been the greatest experience of my career,'' said center fielder Coco Crisp, who had his share of success with the Red Sox and won the 2007 World Series with Boston. ``It was a lot of fun. Of course everybody hates that it has to end right now.''

The A's became the first team in major league history to win the division or pennant after trailing by five or more games with fewer than 10 to go. The A's were five back of the Rangers with nine left, then won their final six all at home with sweeps of Seattle and Texas.

But the Tigers got them again. Just as Detroit did in a four-game sweep in the 2006 AL championship series - the last postseason appearance by the A's.

Melvin and hitting coach Chili Davis called strikeouts part of the game for the powerful A's, whose 112 homers after the All-Star break were the most in baseball.

Yoenis Cespedes wrapped up his sensational rookie season by batting .316 (6 for 19) with two RBIs in the playoffs. Though he didn't want to discuss his year Friday while gathering his things - ``next year,'' he said.

``We have nothing to hang our heads low about,'' Reddick said. ``We had a great season and came really a long way and proved a lot of people wrong.''

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2018 MLB All-Star Game Live Blog

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 MLB All-Star Game Live Blog

This is the year's most ambitious crossover event in baseball. Dozens of MLB standouts from dozens of teams ally along either the National or American league. The two teams play against each other in a lighthearted frankensquad matchup. It's a welcome change of pace, considering how stressed we are about the Nationals' win percentage.

At the moment, we're keeping our eyes to the sky to monitor incoming rain. Aside from the threat of rain delay, we're excited to see how things unfold.

BOT 4 - Bryce Harper faces Blake Snell and strikes out for the second time tonight. Maybe he thought tonight was a Strikeout Derby?

TOP 4 - Machado pops up to the third baseman in what may be his final at-bat wearing an Orioles uniform.

TOP 4 - Matt Kemp deftly avoids tampering charges when the FOX broadcast crew asks him about his selfie with Machado.

BOT 2 - Manny begins acquainting himself with his LA teammates.

BOT 2 - Chris Sale only stuck around for one inning, apparently. It's Luis Severino time in D.C. He allows a double from Matt Kemp to start but then strikes out Bryce Harper. 

TOP 2 - Aaron Judge takes Scherzer deep. 1-0 AL. Sigh.

BOT 1 - AL Starter Chris Sale responds with a scoreless frame of his own. We're on our way to that 3-2 thriller after all!!! 

TOP 1 - Scherzer strikes out Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve before walking Mike Trout (can't blame him) and allowing a hit to J.D. Martinez. No damage done though, and it's 0-0. 

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All-Star Game Weather: Storms causing traffic havoc, could force delay, postponement

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USA Today Sports

All-Star Game Weather: Storms causing traffic havoc, could force delay, postponement

There is inclement weather in the forecast for Tuesday evening both before and during the 2018 All-Star Game in Washington, D.C.

The rain could, theoretically, force the game to be delayed or even postponed, but the forecast shows the skies clearing up as first pitch nears.

Bad weather and MLB All-Star Games share a history in Washington.

The last time Washington hosted the MLB All-Star Game, in 1969, a bad rainstorm forced the game to be postponed from Tuesday night to Wednesday afternoon.

Even if the weather does let up and the game is able to start on time, there are sure to be problems with D.C.'s already-dense traffic. Roads are flooding and with more people on them than usual, getting to the game will surely be an issue.

All-Star Game Forecast

The worst of the weather seems to have already happened on Tuesday afternoon. The rest of the evening forecast calls for a slight chance of precipitation, with mostly cloudy skies and, naturally, a lot of humidity.

The issue, if there is any, would likely be with the All-Star Game getting started on time. That said, there's obviously still the chance for delays during the game.

Luckily, a full postponement seems unlikely at this point.

All-Star Game Traffic

There's hardly a worse place to drive in the United States during rush hour than in, around or through Washington. With the All-Star Game in town, there are already significantly more cars on the road than there usually are. Add rain and flooded roads into that equation and things get extra messy.

The George Washington Parkway, a main thoroughfare in the area, has already flooded.

One road in Alexandria, Virginia, is flooded and has cars scattered about.

Public transportation would seem to be the way to go, but even the Capitol South Metro Station in Southeast D.C. is flooding.


A brief history of weather and the All-Star Game

The first and only time the MLB All-Star Game was ever postponed because of rain was in 1969, the last time Washington was the host.

Three other times, the game has either been shortened or delayed because of rain, most recently in 1990 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. That game was delayed for over an hour but was still played.

All signs point to the game being played Tuesday night, but Nationals Park has definitely felt the wrath of this storm already.

On the bright side, if it's light enough when the game starts, there will probably be a rainbow somewhere in-view from the stadium, which should make for some pretty cool pictures for those in attendance.