Turvey: The A’s in the ALDS, a pattern or a fluke?

From SABR member Jim Turvey at Three Bridge Sports on October 14, 2013:

Another ALDS. Another Game 5. Another loss. What was once an annoying trend that could be blamed on the small sample size of playoff games is now becoming a pretty hefty sized elephant in the room, and not Stomper, unfortunately. The A’s have now reached the playoffs seven times this millennium, a very good number, but have only made it out of the first round once, in 2006, and they were swept in the ALCS by current A’s kryptonite, the Detroit Tigers that season. The goal of the baseball off season, like any sport’s off season, is to assess your team, and see what needs to be done to get to the next level. Since the A’s seem stuck in a Game 5 rut, let’s go back and look at each Game 5 of the ALDS the A’s have played the last thirteen years, and see if we can spot a pattern that will make it clear what the A’s need in the off season.

2000- #2 Oakland A’s vs. #3 New York Yankees. Game 5 score: 7-5 Yankees

This was an interesting one because although the Yankees were the lower seed, they were in the midst of one of the most dominating stretches in MLB history, with two straight titles in 1999 and 1998, and having won three of the last four dating back to 1996. This Yankees’ team would in fact go on to win their third straight World Series and, despite the lower seed, were one of the most talented and experienced teams in baseball.

Game 5 itself featured one of the biggest reversals of fortune of all-time. Game 4 had been an elimination win by the A’s, in New York, by the smack down score of 11-1. 22-year old Barry Zito had out pitched Roger Clemens in Yankee Stadium, and now the series was headed back to Oakland for the decisive Game 5. The A’s went with Gil Heredia, and the Yankees countered with Andy Pettitte; neither made their manager look good. Heredia, in particular, however, blew up on Art Howe, lasting just a third of an inning, while giving up six runs. The A’s clawed back to make the deficit just two in the bottom of the fourth, but the Yankees’ bullpen locked it down, giving up only three hits, and only allowing one runner to reach scoring position the rest of the game.

Theme of loss: Starting pitcher blew up, and A’s hitters couldn’t make a difference of the opposing teams’ bullpen.

Read the full article here: http://www.threebridgesports.com/2013/10/14/a-pattern-or-a-fluke-a-look-at-the-as-game-5-alds-losses-part-1-the-early-years/

Originally published: October 21, 2013. Last Updated: October 21, 2013.