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The Oakland Athletics incredibly successful season came to an end last night, as they fell to the New York Yankees 7-2 in the AL Wild Card Game in the Bronx. The men in green and gold were just coming off a fantastic season, finishing up with an impressive overall record of 97-65. The Yankees finished with an equally impressive 100-62 record.
What I found interesting about the start of this highly anticipated Wild Card game was the fact that the A's started a relief pitcher in the first inning. A 29 right-hander from Australia, Liam Hendricks was coming into the ball game with a 4.12 ERA and a 0-1 record. At first glance, this seemed like a risky move, but after further analysis, it made the most sense, as many of the A's starting pitchers had been plagued with injuries, so they essentially were short on options; and the men in green and gold's relievers finished with their best record in 16 years at 45-16. This also happened to be the second-most bullpen victories in MLB bullpen history behind Tampa Bay's 54 this year. After realizing this, maybe old Bob Melvin wasn't so crazy starting this six foot Aussie after all... or maybe he was.
Hendricks got off to a rough start, giving up a two-run home-run, after walking former San Francisco Giant Andrew McCutchen, to superstar Aaron Judge. After that, it pretty much stayed 2-0 for a good chunk of the contest. That is, until a four-run sixth inning broke the game wide open for the Yanks, putting them up 6-0 and pretty much sealing the Athletics' fate. Reliever Fernando Rodney came in and Aaron Judge started the last of the sixth with a lead-off double. Then Aaron Hicks followed with yet another double off Rodney.
Soon, closer Blake Treinen entered the game and walked Giancarlo Stanton, and Luke Voit hit an opposite-field drive to right and ended up with a triple. Voit eventually made it home on Didi Gregorius' sacrifice fly, sending the fans in the blue and white into a frenzy. All hope was not lost however, as slugger Khris Davis knocked a two-run dinger off of reliever Zach Britton. But in the end, the Yankees had the better pitchers and the better team and finished the game with a strong victory 7-2.
However, the A's were not walking away from this game with their heads in their hands. They proved what a team in the major leagues can do with the lowest payroll around, hard work and determination. As Davis put it, "It's pretty hard but I'm not disappointed at all. I think we showed some people we can do some things and I think next year, we're a little bit more of a threat." And that they definitely did. With the impressive record they boasted this 2018 season, there is no doubt that they will be back and stronger than ever next season.
Even though the A's were plagued with injuries and may have seemed over-matched at times in this game against the Yanks, they fought hard without a doubt and proved their worth in the major leagues. Winning 97 games and doing it with the amount of injuries they had is definitely impressive. Melvin got the most out of his squad and definitely in contention for AL Manager of the Year. Be sure to keep an eye out for the men in green and gold, for they will be back in the postseason in 2019, possibly making it farther than they did this go around.