There is No Joy in Oakland as the A’s are One and Done

by Jerry Feitelberg

The Oakland A’s and the Kansas City Royals played one of the best playoff games ever on Tuesday night in Kansas City. It was a thriller all the way and the fans of both teams had moments of great joy and great despair all through the night. The A’s and their fans, however, will not be celebrating as the Royals kept coming back and finally overtook the A’s in the bottom of the twelfth inning as they advanced to the best of five ALDS against the Los Angeles Angels as they won in a walk off 9-8.

Big Jon Lester started for the A’s. Lester, who won two World Championship rings with the Red Sox and was the only A’s pitcher to beat the Royals this year, was on the mound for Oakland. Lester was 9-3 against KC lifetime and 3-0 against them this year. Kansas City had their ace “Big Game” James Shields taking on the task of beating the A’s. All the pundits thought the game would be a one run game with a final score of 2-1 or 2-1 but they were wrong. It turned out to be a game of the A’s power against the running game of the Royals and in the end the running game won.

The A’s got off to a good start when Brandon Moss hit a two run homer in the top of the first. The Royals made it 2-1 when they came back in their half of the inning. The Royals then took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third by scoring twice off Lester. The A’s took the lead in the top of the sixth. Royals’ manager Ned Yost took Shields out in the sixth with two men on and two out and brought in Yordano Ventura to pitch to Brandon Moss. Moss hit a tremendous blast to center field to make it a 5-3 game and the A’s scored two more runs to increase the lead to 7-3.

Lester pitched well after the third inning but ran into trouble in the bottom of the eighth. Lester recorded just one out and the Royals scored three times to close the gap to 7-6. They tied the game in the ninth scoring a run off A’s closer Sean Doolittle. Former A’s outfielder Josh Willingham came through with a pinch hit single to right to start the ninth. Jarrod Dyson, pinch running for Willingham advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and then stole third base. Nori Aoki hit a long fly to right field and A’s right fielder Josh Reddick mad a great catch robbing Aoki of a hit but Dyson tagged up and scored the tying run and the game went to extra innings.

The Royals had their chances to win the game in the 10th and 11th innings but the A’s pitchers managed to get the third out in each inning stranding the winning run at third in both frames. In the 12th and and final inning of the game, the A’s took an 8-7 lead when Alberto Callaspo,pinch hitting for Nate Freiman, poked a single to left field driving in Josh Reddick with the run. The Royals, however, were not done. Eric Hosmer hit a triple to left center field high off the wall. Christian Colon then hit a high chopper that A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson could not make a play on and Hosmer scored.

The A’s kept a close eye on Colon as they knew the Royals would try for a stolen base. The A’s called for a pitchout but Derek Norris took his eye off the ball and it hit his glove and he could not make the throw. Royals’ All-Star catcher, Salvador Perez, who had been hitless all night, lined a shot past a diving Josh Donaldson down the left field line that drove in Colon with the winning run and the celebration began for the Royals who now face the Angels Thursday night.

For the A’s, it was a season that started with high hopes and for four months they had the best record in baseball. General Manager Billy Beane made a great trade in early July for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. On July 31st, he traded slugger Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for Jon Lester. Everyone thought it was a great trade and the A’s would be headed to the World Series. However, a funny thing happened to the A’s. They stopped hitting and they had a losing record the last two months of the year and made the playoffs on the last day of the season. Tuesday night’s game was a mirror of the season, a great start but a lousy finish. The A’s will have all winter now to figure things out for next year.

That’s a wrap for 2014 for A’s baseball and congratulations to the Royals who are in the playoffs for the first time in 29 years.

Game notes- Major League Baseball and MLB Advanced Media announced that Josh Donaldson was named the Oakland A’s nominee for the 2014 Hank Aaron Award.

Fans can vote exclusively online at and the 30 Club sites. For the fifth straight year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Hank Aaron will join fans in voting for the award, which is officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball and has recognized the most outstanding offensive performer in each League since it was established in 1999.

After finishing fourth in American League MVP voting in 2013, Donaldson ended the 2014 campaign with career highs in home runs (29), RBI (98) and runs scored (93), while ranking in the Top 10 in the American League in each of those three categories. Donaldson also tied his career highs in games played (158) and walks (76), and hit a Major League-leading three walk-off home runs, tied for the most in A’s history.

The Hall of Fame panel led by Aaron includes some of the greatest offensive players of all-time –Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Frank Thomas and Robin Yount. These Hall of Famers – who combined for 16,956 hits, 8,844 RBI and 2,109 home runs – have all been personally selected by Aaron to lend their expertise to select the best offensive performer in each League.

“Josh is well-deserving,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “He’s been a very inspirational player, as was Hank Aaron. He’s really showed up to play, especially in recent weeks with his injuries.”

Through October 5, fans will have the opportunity to select one American League and one National League winner from a list comprising of one finalist per Club. The winners of the 2014 Hank Aaron Award will be announced during the 2014 World Series.

The finalists for the 2014 Hank Aaron Award are:

American League National League
Baltimore Orioles Nelson Cruz Arizona Diamondbacks Paul Goldschmidt
Boston Red Sox David Ortiz Atlanta Braves Justin Upton
Chicago White Sox Jose Abreu Chicago Cubs Anthony Rizzo
Cleveland Indians Michael Brantley Cincinnati Reds Devin Mesoraco
Detroit Tigers Victor Martinez Colorado Rockies Justin Morneau
Houston Astros Jose Altuve Los Angeles Dodgers Adrian Gonzalez
Kansas City Royals Alex Gordon Miami Marlins Giancarlo Stanton
LA Angels of Anaheim Mike Trout Milwaukee Brewers Jonathan Lucroy
Minnesota Twins Trevor Plouffe New York Mets Daniel Murphy
New York Yankees Brett Gardner Philadelphia Phillies Marlon Byrd
Oakland Athletics Josh Donaldson Pittsburgh Pirates Andrew McCutchen
Seattle Mariners Robinson Cano St. Louis Cardinals Matt Carpenter
Tampa Bay Rays Evan Longoria San Diego Padres Seth Smith
Texas Rangers Adrian Beltre San Francisco Giants Hunter Pence
Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista Washington Nationals Anthony Rendon

Past winners of the Hank Aaron Award include: Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt (2013); Cabrera and Buster Posey (2012); Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp (2011); Bautista and Joey Votto (2010); Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols (2009); Aramis Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis (2008); Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder (2007); Jeter and Ryan Howard (2006); David Ortiz and Andruw Jones (2005); Manny Ramirez and Barry Bonds (2004); Rodriguez and Pujols (2003); Rodriguez and Bonds (2001-02); Carlos Delgado and Todd Helton (2000) and Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa (1999).

The Hank Aaron Award was introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th Anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record, and, at that time, was the first major award introduced by Major League Baseball in more than 25 years.

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