Other than opening with a reliever on the mound, nothing was any different about this October for the Oakland Athletics.

They didn’t last very long … again.

Liam Hendriks gave up a two-run homer to Aaron Judge on his ninth pitch and the A’s never recovered, making another early playoff exit with a 7-2 loss to the New York Yankees in the American League wild-card game Wednesday night.

Oakland Athletics’ Chad Pinder sits on the bench after the A’s lost to the New York Yankees 7-2 in the American League wild-card playoff baseball game, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Oakland’s dangerous bats were mostly silenced by Luis Severino and a nasty New York bullpen, sending the A’s right back across the country and home for the winter — an abrupt ending to their surprisingly successful season.

Meanwhile, the Yankees advanced to a best-of-five Division Series against rival Boston.

Oakland Athletics’ Nick Martini flips his bat after striking out to end the top of the seventh inning of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the New York Yankees, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

It was the eighth consecutive defeat for the A’s in a winner-take-all postseason game since Reggie Jackson’s homer helped beat a New York Mets team that featured Tom Seaver and Willie Mays in Game 7 of the 1973 World Series.

Despite making nine playoff appearances this century, Oakland has reached the AL Championship Series only once, in 2006. The club dropped to 1-14 during that stretch with a chance to move on, including a 9-8 loss in 12 innings to Kansas City in the 2014 AL wild-card game.

Oakland Athletics pitcher Liam Hendriks reacts after giving up a two-run home run to New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge during the first inning of the American League wildcard playoff baseball game, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, in new York (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Three of those setbacks have come courtesy of the Yankees, including five-game Division Series losses in 2000 and 2001. New York also swept the A’s 3-0 in the 1981 ALCS.

With his rotation heavily depleted by injuries, Oakland manager Bob Melvin started Hendriks in a “bullpen game,” a strategic trend that’s quickly catching on around the majors after an innovative Tampa Bay organization employed it with tangible success this year.

Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Fernando Rodney, left, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy wait on the mound as Rodney is relieved during the sixth inning of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the New York Yankees, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Hendriks, a no-name reliever with starting experience, returned from the minors in September and was effective in eight games as an “opener.” He tossed seven shutout innings over the last seven, pitching one inning each time before handing the ball to someone else as the Athletics relied on a strong and deep bullpen.

That was the idea Wednesday night, too, but intentionally throwing “Johnny Wholestaff,” as it used to be called, in a winner-take-all playoff game was certainly an unprecedented experiment.

Oakland Athletics’ Khris Davis reacts after striking out to end the top of the fifth inning of the American League wild-card playoff baseball game against the New York Yankees, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

The previous three times a pitcher with no wins in the regular season — never mind one who was cut from the 40-man roster in June — had started a postseason game, they had missed most of the season either because of injury or to serve in a war.

Judge’s home run off Hendriks put the A’s in a quick hole. They opened the fifth with their first hits of the night, consecutive singles that chased Severino. But then Dellin Betances retired Matt Chapman and Jed Lowrie before striking out slugger Khris Davis, the 2-3-4 hitters in the lineup, to thwart the scoring threat.

Oakland Athletics pitcher Liam Hendriks reacts after giving up a two-run home run to New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge during the first inning of the American League wildcard playoff baseball game, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, in new York (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

New York added four in the sixth against Fernando Rodney and Blake Treinen, perhaps the best closer in baseball this season. Davis, who led the majors with 48 homers, lined a two-run shot to right field in the eighth to trim the deficit to 6-2, but by then it was way too late.

After finishing last in the AL West the previous three years, low-budget Oakland went 97-65 for a 22-win improvement and its best record since a 103-59 mark in 2002.

Oakland Athletics pitcher Liam Hendriks delivers against the New York Yankees during the first inning of the American League wildcard playoff baseball game, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, in new York (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

But in the end, October was unkind once again.

___

Source: The Associated Press

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.