The A's have an ability to advance to the post-season. They have even shown an ability to win games in the post-season. What they have to avoid, however, is a win-or-go-home scenario. The A's have not won an elimination game in the post-season since they beat the Orioles in Game 7 of the 1973 World Series.
The 5-1 loss to the Rays in the AL Wild Card Game on Wednesday was the ninth consecutive time the A's have lost an elimination game, including the AL Wild Card game this year, last year to the Yankees, and in 2014 to the Royals in 12-inning affair.
They lost Game 5 of the AL Division Series in back-to-back seasons (2012-2013) to Justin Verlander and the Tigers. Verlander pitched 17 innings int he two games, allowing six hits and just two walks.
Sean Manaea has been a critical part of the A's rotation. In the Wild Card game, though, he arguably the second worst start of his career. Manea allowed four runs in only two innings, equaling the second shorted start of his career, and only the 10th time he work fewer than four innings in 84 career starts for the A's. He is 0-9 with a 20.84 ERA in the 10 starts of fewer than four starts compared to 34-20 with a 3.16 ERA in his 74 other starts.
Yandy Diaz gave the Rays an earlier boost. He not only led off the game with a home run, but he also led off the third inning with a home run, which signaled the end of the night for Manaea. He became the fourth player in post-season history to open up an elimination game with a home run. The Rays joined the 2016 Cubs in Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians as the only two of those four teams to win the elimination game.
But then the Rays started Charlie Morton, who is breaking down stereotypes about aging players. In the three seasons since he turned 33, Morton is a combined 45-16 in 88 starts with a 3.24 ERA. By comparison, prior to 2017, Morton had a big-league resume of 46-71 with a 4.54 ERA.
Oh, and on Wednesday he became the first pitcher in history to win three post-season elimination games. Morton also won Game 7 for the Astros in both the 2017 ALCS and the 2018 World Series.
Here's the touch of irony. Morton is in line to start Game 3 of the AL Division Series for the Rays against the Astros on Monday.