Athletics Run Afoul of the Love-Hate Sport of Baseball; Also, It’s Time for Some Anger

Oakland Athletics reliever J.B. Wendelken describes baseball as being a sport that can hate you or love you. It was pretty evident what Tuesday was; it wasn’t love. Now Wendelken says it’s time for the A’s to get some anger going come Wednesday.
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Reliever J.B. Wendelken came back to the A’s from the injured list just in time for the playoffs and threw 2.2 scoreless innings of relief in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card playoffs Tuesday.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Wendelken came into a game the A’s were trailing 3-0 and there was no amount of shutout relief that was going to keep the White Sox from a 4-1 win in Game 1.

That, Wendelken said, is how it goes sometimes, although he said it better.

“Baseball is a love-hate sport,” he said. “It hates you sometimes, and it loves you other times. We’re going to bounce back tomorrow and go right at them.”

Wendelken, who offered just a no-comment when asked what it was that landed him on the injured list, has been a huge part of the A’s bullpen this season. Tuesday was kind of like that, too. He was asked to take over for Jesús Luzardo in the fourth inning after a one-out double. Wendelken finished off the inning with a strikeout and a fly ball, and gave up just one two-out hit as he retired eight of the nine men he faced.

The A’s have plenty of relief help, so its unlikely that Wendelken will be called upon in Wednesday’s Game 2. Nothing is off the table.

As manager Bob Melvin said, it’s the postseason, and everybody can pitch three days in a row.

He was asked if the White Sox having beat Luzardo to remain unbeaten against lefty starters this year would change his thoughts about who might pitch in Game 3 Thursday.

“We still need to get past tomorrow,” Melvin said. “Then we’ll think about Game 3. But we dan see the numbers (15-0). Tomorrow’s game we need to win first.”

Asked about the bullpen for Wednesday, Melvin didn’t say Wendelken wasn’t available.

“Once the postseason comes around, these guys can pitch three days in a row,” Melvin said. “We’re just trying to keep it as close as we possibly can. Wendelken obviously did a fantastic job.”

It won’t make much difference who pitches if the A’s don’t generate more offense. Oakland has been ousted after just one game in its last three trips to the postseason. They change of rules to make the wild card a best-of-three keeps the A’s alive, but they still haven’t won a wild card game.

“We have no choice tomorrow,” Melvin said. “That’s the way we’ve ben here for a while now. We anted a series. We lost the first game of it. Now it’s done, it’s time for us to respond tomorrow. We’re going to have to do more offensively.

“We can’t put that much pressure on the starter, so offensively, we have to show up, we have pretty good numbers against left-handers. We hope everything plays out.

Wendelken has a suggestion.

Anger.

“When it’s done, it’s always in the past,” he said. “It’s really just the next step. I feel like we’re going to come in with a little bit of anger tomorrow and show you how it's done.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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