In eight starts during the month of September, Liam Hendriks allowed zero first-inning runs.
That success lent credence to the A’s and manager Bob Melvin’s decision to hand him the ball opening Wednesday’s American League Wild Card game. The ninth time wasn’t a charm for the Aussie, who surrendered an Aaron Judge two-run first-inning homer as the Athletics were eliminated from the postseason falling 7-2 to the Yankees.
For an offense as potent as Oakland’s, a 2-0 deficit was of little concern, and rookie Lou Trivino kept it there breaking from his second-half funk in impressive fashion.
The first man to emerge from the A’s bullpen, Trivino fired three scoreless — matching his longest outing as a big leaguer — allowing one hit while walking one and striking out four. This after stumbling down the stretch to post a 7.78 ERA in his final 24 regular season appearances.
Problem for the A’s, as Trivino gave them chance after chance to ascend from the early hole, was Luis Severino.
While the Oakland offense forced him to work for it, the Yankee ace navigated through self-induced drama time and time again. Severino held the A’s hitless through four frames, but four walks, an error kept him on the run.
The A’s could never make anything of it, though, striking out seven times in the first four innings stranding seven runners, including five left in scoring position.
Khris Davis, appearing in the first postseason game of his career, got the A’s on the board in the eighth blasting a two-run homer the other way. It was too little too late, however.
Following back-to-back doubles surrendered by Fernando Rodney, Melvin made the tough call handing the ball to his closer with no outs in the sixth.
Things did not go well for Blake Treinen, who allowed seven earned runs all season and one in his last 27 games. A 3-2 slider appeared to clip the inside corner — a nearly identical location to that of one that was called strike three from Severino to Stephen Piscotty in the second — to Giancarlo Stanton but was called ball four. Then a fly ball to the right-field wall from Luke Voit narrowly escaped the glove of Piscotty, attempting the same wall-scaling catch A’s fans have seen him make all season, yielding a two-run triple.
New York cashed in its final run of the frame on a sacrifice fly to left that invoked a challenge by the A’s. A play eerily reminiscent of a similarly challenged tag call at home once again produced a decision that hurt the A’s.
Though the video appeared to show a tag, put on by Jonathan Lucroy, was applied to Voit before his hand contacted the plate the call on the field was upheld.
The two eared runs allowed by Treinen were a season high, but he was handed another on a long homer off the bat of Stanton answering Davis’ in the eighth.
In the end, nine runners left on base on an 0-for-6 night with runners in scoring position proved too much to overcome, and the A’s saw their magical season come to an abrupt end, once again, in sour defeat at the hands of the Yankees.
Kalama Hines is SFBay’s sports director and Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.