Thursday, Laureano and his bat proved he still wasn’t ready to go home.
His second homer of the game, a solo shot to left-center to lead off the fifth, trimmed the Houston lead to one run. Laureano screamed “Let’s fucking go!” toward his dugout as he rounded third. But little did they all know, they would only score two more runs, while Houston would pile on six more on their way to another AL Championship Series.
The A’s 2020 season was officially put to bed after an emotion-filled 11-6 loss against the division rival Astros in Game 4 of the AL Division Series Thursday. Houston advances to the ALCS, which begins Sunday at Petco Park.
Laureano said he didn’t think about yesterday’s speech today, and said he came to the field with the same mindset he has every game:
“Whatever I did yesterday, I feel like that every single time so it wasn’t something new for me. … It’s a bad feeling but hopefully it doesn’t happen next year. You have to keep your head up, keep working, keep dreaming about moving forward and winning a World Series.”
Bob Melvin knew it was going to be a battle to the end, but the A’s pitching just couldn’t hold down the hot Astros bats. Marcus Semien — who will be a free agent next year, and Thursday may have been his last game in an A’s uniform — spoke about the series:
“You start to realize after the first game that any lead early in the game is not enough. Either side. We got out to a lead a couple times, they got out to a lead around the fourth inning and it just doesn’t feel safe… In this series you just have to keep adding on and they did that today. They kept adding on and we couldn’t catch them but that was the kind of series it was. It easily could have flipped. We had a couple innings where we could have tacked on some runs and didn’t happen and that’s how it goes.”
Oakland may not be walking away with a win but they can emerge with a few positives. They set the AL record for most home runs in a divisional series, and gained valuable postseason experience for young players like Jesus Luzardo and Sean Murphy.
Both Frankie Montas (L, 0-1, 12.27 ERA) and Zack Greinke needed only ten pitches to get through their first innings, but when Greinke gave up his first hit to Matt Olson in the second, two more hits followed and one was a three-run homer. Laureano absolutely demolished an 85-mph slider 449 feet into left-center to give bring in Olson and Mark Canha for a 3-0 A’s lead.
Melvin said the team felt really good after the Laureano homer:
“Ramon’s home run felt like a 1,000-run homer at the time. We felt really good about where we were going. Frankie was pitching really well, had good stuff, good velocity, good breaking ball and then all of a sudden a big inning kinda derailed it a little bit and then we just couldn’t hold them down after that unfortunately…&nbsp;You look at the numbers over the course of the regular season with our bullpen, if we had a lead after the sixth, we usually won. So it didn’t happen this series and we struggled to hold them down really the entire game at times so just a good offensive team that hit their stride at the right time.”
Alex Bregman dropped a his second single of the game into shallow center, and, just as he did in two innings before, Tommy La Stella missed it by a step. Kyle Tucker kept the rally going with a single to right to put runners on first and second when Carlos Correa decided to clear the bases on a ball that almost left the seats in left field to make it 5-3 Houston.
Canha summed up the series:
“It was kind of a slugfest and they just kinda outslugged us … it just came down to hitting the ball over the fence, and they did it a little better then we did.”
Brantley joined the two-homer club when he led off the fifth with a solo shot to right to bump the Houston lead to 6-4. Wendelken walked Bregman, his third and final batter, and was relieved by Mike Minor. Tucker kept the inning alive when he singled on a ball that almost hit Bregman on the run. With runners on the corners with no outs. Correa singled to left to make it 7-4.
Melvin spoke about his bullpen:
“I think in the postseason you tend to go to your bullpen a little bit earlier anyway, when you have the strength but we just couldn’t hold them down in any facet as far as the pitching went. We had some stretches where we did both out of the bullpen and out of the rotation but nothing sustained through nine innings and that’s why they won the series.”
Joakim Soria pitched the sixth for the A’s and had to face top of the order. He walked Altuve and then Brantley singled to left to put runners on first and second after a Springer ground out. After Bregman hit an infield fly rule popup for the second out, Tucker singled to center to make it 8-4. Correa followed with a line drive to right field to make it 9-4 in the bottom of the sixth.
Robbie Grossman had a two out double and Murphy singled to put runners on the corners in the seventh. Semien made Cristian Javier (W, 1-0, 0.00 ERA) work before he hit a ball that had the entire stadium holding their breath but Tucker caught it with his back on the wall to end the inning.
Oakland put their faith in Jake Diekman but he walked Maldonado before Altuve swung at the first pitch and smacked the ball to center to make it 11-4.
The A’s have been a comeback team all year, but a seven-run rally is a lot to ask. Melvin spoke on how his team never gives up and fights to the end:
“You knew to an extent there was never going to be a lead that was too big. I am shocked that Marcus’s ball didn’t go out. That is a ball that now all of a sudden we are within two and thats the way this series is blowing. I don’t know, maybe the wind was blowing in it that time or whatever but every ball that was hit like that at 100 mph seemed to go out and that one didn’t. If there was ever a momentum swing that was probably the biggest one and if that ball goes out, it’s a whole different ball game again.”
La Stella led off the eighth with a hard line drive to a diving Myles Straw in center who couldn’t make the catch and the ball bounced to the wall in right-center for a standing double. Davis was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out. Javier was relieved by Enoli Paredes who threw a strike before a passed ball advanced the runners into scoring position. Peredes struck out Olson, then Canha grounded out to third to end the inning, leaving two A’s runners stranded for the second inning in a row.
Pressly pitched the ninth and Laureano led off. The guy who brought in all the A’s runs on Thursday grounded out to third. Grossman kept the inning hopeful when he singled, beating the shift. Semien singled to left and Grossman scored to make it 11-5.
La Stella hit a ball down the first base line and Gurriel dove and knocked it foul for a single to made it 11-6. Pinder walked to keep the A’s ninth-inning rally alive and bringing up Davis, who had runners on first and second with two outs down by four runs. When Davis struck out looking, the A’s learned exactly how the White Sox felt when Oakland put an end to the Chicago season on a strike three called looking with Hendriks on the mound in the Wild Card series.
Semien knows what his team is capable of and spoke about the ninth inning mini-rally:
“The last inning, that is what we do. We make it tough on the closer and we have seen that guy a lot. We have seen Pressly a bunch and we know kinda what he is going to do. It was a little tough to see with the shadows but we grinded out some at bats and tagged some on. Hey, if [Davis] hits a homer there its 11-9, who knows what happens but we always feel like we are in that game.”
The A’s are scheduled to face the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 in Phoenix, Ariz for their first Spring Training game of the 2021 campaign.
Mike Fiers was the only pitcher to not make an appearance in the series against his former team. … Sean Manaea stood the entire game and continued to clap and cheer on his team as the Astros lead got farther and farther away.