Courtesy of Ivy Chen/JCon Taiwan
The Oakland A's duplicated their mark of a year ago with a record of 97-65 and finished a game ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for the top spot of the two American League Wild Card berths. However, the Houston Astros (who won the World Series in 2017) finished with an amazing 107 wins. The A's finished in second place and 10 games behind the Astros in the American League West Division.
Thankfully due to the invention of the Wild Card game, the A's live to see another day and unlike 2018, this time they have the home field advantage with the game at the Coliseum. That's the good news. The bad news is the A's haven't won an elimination game since Game 7 of the 1973 World Series. That year, the green and gold beat the exciting "Ya Gotta Believe" Mets team managed by Yogi Berra and featured the final appearance of 42-year old Willie Mays.
Well, that was 46 years ago, and the A's have been snake bit to say the least since sweeping the Giants to win the 1989 World Series. Of course, it would go a long ways to take this win or go home contest.
When the A's played the Wild Card game in 2014 and 2018, they lost both times but both games were on the road. The A's are at home this time and that's a big home field advantage to play at the familiar confines of the Oakland Coliseum vs. the dank, dark Tropicana Field.
"That's a very tough place to play," Manager Bob Melvin said of the Rays domed stadium. "The ballpark conditions, you have to get used to the roof, it's turf, we don't play on that very often. Sometimes the background doesn't seem great with the lights, the roof kind of shows up in the dark, you don't see the ball very well...
"We have played well here (at the Coliseum) this year, our record would suggest that we do play well here and we've had this game a couple of times on the road and that hasn't worked out very well for us so, we know we're going to play in front of our fans here, it's going to be a football type crowd, and I hear Mount Davis is going to be open and it can get pretty raucous here so we're excited about having it here."
Melvin waited until the workout day to announce that lefty Sean Manaea will oppose the Rays' Charlie Morton.
This is huge for the young Manaea, who spent most of the 2019 season on the injured list after recovering from left shoulder surgery.
"It means a lot. I put in a lot of work and getting here was crazy hard," Manaea said to a room full of reporters during Tuesday's workout." But I'm here and I'm glad that the team has faith in me and I'm just thankful for the opportunity. I'm looking forward to it and it's going to be awesome.”
The author of a 2018 no-hitter against the Red Sox, Manaea was 4-1 with a 1.21 ERA in five starts. In 29 2/3 innings he allowed only 16 hits and four runs, walked seven, and had 30 strikeouts. He did give up three home runs, but that is pretty good given the inflation of home runs in the modern game. Manaea didn't pitch against Tampa Bay in 2019 but he's not concerned about not having faced them.
"I'm going into it like any other start," Manaea said. "Not making it any bigger and just continue what I've been doing. I'm going to focus on my strengths and pitch off of that."
The A's record in elimination games is terrible. It is 4-14 in closeout games since 2000.
This may seem obvious, but here are my keys to the game:
April 22, 2023
September 24, 2021
September 10, 2021
February 6, 2021
Former A's Relief Pitcher Chad Bradford recalls his favorite moments from the 2002 season on August 28, 2022.
Former A's First Baseman Scott Hatteberg recalls his fond memories of the 2002 team on August 28, 2022.
Former Clubhouse Manager Steve Vucinich speaks before his induction into the A's Hall of Fame on August 7, 2022.