NEW YORK — A look of dejection came over the nine A’s players on the field as the raucous sold-out crowd at Yankee Stadium erupted following Luke Voit’s two-run triple to increase a Yankees lead to 5-0 that felt more like 50-0.
Teams just don't score off Treinen, who put together a 0.78 ERA over 80 1/3 innings in the regular season, lowest in MLB history among pitchers with at least 75 innings pitched. Never allowing more than an earned run in a game over the regular season, Treinen was charged with three over two innings in Wednesday night's 7-2 loss to the Yankees, also surrendering a solo home run to Giancarlo Stanton in the eighth.
"I just didn't do a good job of executing pitches. I left mistakes up late," Treinen said. "Had a hard time really getting my slider down and that's what's frustrating because I felt like I had a pretty good sinker and Stanton was an MVP last year for a reason. Kind of a tough time to swallow it this late in the year. Sometimes you don't have your best stuff and it's the biggest game of the year."
The game got out of hand for the A's with not only their best pitcher on the mound, but a pitcher likely to garner MVP votes for such a stellar season.
"That's the guy we want on the mound no matter what," A's third baseman Matt Chapman said. "He's a guy who's carried us and pretty much been an MVP guy for us. He came into a situation he's not accustomed to but I know he wanted the ball and that's who we wanted on the mound."
But this loss to end the magical season of what seemed like destiny, now bumping the A's out of the playoffs in the wild-card stage in their last two postseason appearances as they have gone past the first round just once in nine attempts since 2002, does not fall on Treinen. He entered the game in the sixth as more of a move of desperation by manager Bob Melvin after Fernando Rodney surrender back-to-back hits and allowed the Yankees to extend their lead to three runs while failing to record an out.
The loss also does not fall on the much-scrutinized bullpenning strategy the A's have employed this year, becoming the first team to ever do so in a postseason game. Yes, opener Liam Hendriks surrendered a two-run homer to Aaron Judge in the first, but Lou Trivino and Shawn Kelley did their best to keep the A's in the game by following Hendriks with four scoreless innings, with Trivino's performance downright heroic as he retired eight batters in a row from the second to the fourth.
This loss ultimately falls on the offense.
The same group which boasted the second-highest road batting average (.262) and most road home runs (136) in the majors looked about how you would expect a young offense to look on a loud October night in New York -- overwhelmed.
"It's important for the young guys to get a taste of what that was like because that's what playoff baseball is like, especially here in a good environment," A's catcher Jonathan Lucroy, one of only three hitters in the starting lineup with postseason experience, said. "It's one of the toughest environments in the league. We couldn't get that big knock."
It's hard to explain how loud the crowd was at Yankee Stadium. If anyone grew up watching pro wrestling back in the day, a good comparison would be those old Extreme Championship Wrestling shows in the 90's when the noise in the arena would become deafening after the crowd's favorite wrestler body slammed their opponent through a table.
Judge didn't exactly smash Hendriks through a wooden countertop, but that home run in the first set the tone. The flashing lights and sirens that reverberated throughout the stadium seemed to rattle every person wearing green and gold inside.
Khris Davis put the A's on the board in the eight with a two-run homer off Zach Britton in an effort to breathe life back into the A's and cut the deficit to 6-2, but it's the lack of production from Davis and the rest of the lineup earlier in the game when the deficit was much smaller that dug their own grave.
"You know it's going to be loud, it's Yankee Stadium," Melvin said. "Sometimes it's difficult to overcome that. But I thought after we got through the first and settled in a little bit our at-bats would get better and we'd get back in it. We just didn't do it."
A's hitters went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position, leaving a total of nine runners on base. After looking like they had Luis Severino on the ropes, they stranded the bases loaded in the fourth, with Marcus Semien swinging through a 100 mph fastball for strike three. They failed to produce anything in the fifth after leading off with back-to-back singles, as Chapman, Jed Lowrie, and Davis, three guys the A's would probably select in order to bat in that situation, failed to even move a runner over.
If the A's come through in either of those clutch situations, perhaps you don't look for your dominant closer to put out a fire as early as the sixth.
The heavy load the A's offense carried over a remarkable 97-65 regular season, which nobody saw coming out of spring training and much less after going through 14 different staring pitchers, became unbearable in the postseason.
"As far as the Wild Card game, we've had a tough time with it. And it's frustrating," Melvin said. "They got off to a good start with the home run and ended up adding on. We just didn't do enough offensively tonight. You do have to give them credit. They pitched well."
It's a tough pill to swallow, but one Chapman, who emerged this season as an AL MVP candidate and leader of the A's, believes was an experience that will help them out in future years should they get back to this position.
With exciting top prospects in the minors like pitchers Jesus Luzardo and AJ Puk ready to make an impact, getting back to that position could come as early as next year. One thing is certain, nobody will be sleeping on the A's anymore.
"I'm excited we made the playoffs. It's something we all wanted to do," Chapman, who finished 1 for 5, said. "We were able to accomplish that with a lot of young guys and a low payroll, so I think that the sky is the limit for our team and I think everybody is motivated to get back to work."