That’s the end of the 2021 season for the Oakland A’s.
They didn’t go quietly, hitting two homers in the top of the 9th to tie the score, but the game and year came to a familiar end with the bullpen allowing a walk-off run in the bottom of the inning. The A’s lost to the Houston Astros by a 7-6 final at Minute Maid Park.
The result didn’t matter in the standings, with Oakland already ticketed for a trip home for the winter after missing the playoffs, but they put on a show with four dingers and a dramatic late comeback. Seth Brown hit two of them, Tony Kemp went opposite-field, and with two outs in the 9th Khris Davis came through to tie it with his first long ball since returning to the team in September.
However, the Astros also went deep four times, and in the bottom of the 9th they strung together three hits to drive in the winning run.
It was a seesaw affair for the first six innings, as the two teams had themselves a HR Derby.
Oakland led it off in the 2nd inning, with Brown launching a rocket 394 feet.
Seth Brown, ladies and gentlemen. pic.twitter.com/rlq9IhzhjG— Oakland A's (@Athletics) October 3, 2021
Houston responded with their own solo homer in the bottom half to tie it up.
In the top of the 3rd, Kemp found the corner of the Crawford Boxes in left field for solo homer.
Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by a TK bomb pic.twitter.com/fNG393mbF9— Oakland A's (@Athletics) October 3, 2021
And in the bottom of the inning, the Astros hit another one to tie it up.
The A’s tried a different approach in the 5th. Rookie outfielder Luis Barrera slashed a single the other way, then veteran shortstop Pete Kozma knocked one up the middle, moving the runner to third. Kemp lofted a sac fly to score Barrera. For Kemp it was yet another highlight in a huge series against his former Houston club, and for Kozma it was his first MLB hit since 2018.
Pete Kozma gets his first MLB base knock since Sept. 30, 2018 pic.twitter.com/A3lHtVfRN8— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) October 3, 2021
But the Astros kept piling on. A two-run homer in the 6th, an RBI double in the 7th, and a solo homer in the 8th staked Houston to a 6-3 lead.
Oakland was down to their final inning, and they didn’t give up. Chad Pinder led off with a single, and Brown muscled up again for his second dinger of the day.
Two for you, Seth Brown! You go, Seth Brown! pic.twitter.com/dFpftf6232— Oakland A's (@Athletics) October 3, 2021
The lead was cut to one, but the next two batters were retired, bringing up Barrera. Instead, Davis was called to pinch-hit, still searching for his first homer since returning to Oakland at the beginning of the September. With the team down to their final out of the season, Davis worked a 3-1 count and then destroyed a hanging slider. It was 105.4 mph off the bat, 409 feet into the seats, to tie the game.
Khrush Davis ties it up...— Oakland A's (@Athletics) October 3, 2021
Never give up! There would be a bottom of the 9th.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. Lou Trivino allowed a leadoff single, then got an out, then was tagged for a double off the wall and a bloop single to drive home the walk-off run.
Brutal but fitting way to a disappointing 2021 A's season to end pic.twitter.com/6MXOp8DYhp— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) October 3, 2021
On the pitching side, starter Cole Irvin came one out away from a quality outing, until a two-out, two-run homer in the 6th cost him the lead.
- Irvin: 6 ip, 4 runs, 4 Ks, 1 BB, 3 HR, 5 hits, 82 pitches, 93.5 mph EV
He finishes the season with a 4.24 ERA in 32 starts, which is more or less league-average. Not bad for a 27-year-old who was acquired for cash!
So ends a disappointing 2021 season. The A’s were supposed to make one more run at a title, but instead so much went wrong that they missed the playoffs entirely.
When they lost it was heartbreaking, and even when they won it never seemed quite as satisfying as it should have been. It began with bad omens, from spring injuries to the brutal opening series against the Astros. It ended with a womp womp, blowing a rack of saves in the final weeks and then getting sunk by the Mariners down the stretch.
But in between, it was still six months of baseball, and now it’ll be a long winter without.
Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in around 135 days.