The A’s Came To Play
What made this game epic is that the A’s had come to play. Oakland general manager Billy Beane had built eight playoff teams without wining the AL pennant. On July 31, the A’s had the best record in the American League at 66-41. However, that wasn’t good enough for Billy Beane. He decided to reshape his roster for the playoffs.
Beane traded for Boston starting pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes in return for cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes. To replace Cespedes in the outfield, he also traded starting pitcher Tommy Milone to the Twins for Sam Fuld.
In many ways, Beane’s moves seemed to back fire. The A’s finished 22-33 and watched the Angels overtake them for the AL West title. Oakland went from the best record in baseball to the last qualifier for the AL playoffs. Even so, many analysts considered them the most talented team in the playoffs.
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Holding The Fort
KC Royals manager Ned Yost went to closer Greg Holland to hold the A’s in the ninth inning.
Holland began by striking out former Royal Coco Crisp, but then walked Sam Fuld. Dangerous no. 3 hitter Josh Donaldson lined out to left. But, Fuld advanced to scoring position on a passed ball by Gold Glove catcher Salvador Perez.
Holland then issued an intentional walk to cleanup hitter Brandon Moss. However, Josh Reddick also drew a walk to load the bases. But, Holland retired Jed Lowrie on a soft liner into the right-center gap.
The Kansas City Royals came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth needing at least one run to stave off elimination. A’s manager Bob Melvin brought in his closer Sean Dolittle to pitch Oakland into the American League Division Series against the Los Angeles Angels.