There’s something about a win-or-go-home baseball game that cuts right to the core of the sport.
The A’s know this. Going into Wednesday’s American League Division Series game against Houston knowing that their season is over if they lose, the A’s don’t have to look far back in history for comparable situations.
It was just last week they A’s had to win Games 2 and 3 against the White Sox to emerge from the best-of three- AL wild card series.
“Our backs are against the wall,” third baseman Jake Lamb said Wednesday morning in a video conference call. “This is the time where you’ve got to have guy and just get rowdy in the dugout and essentially do whatever it takes to win.
“There’s a really good vibe in the clubhouse right now, especially for being really early in the morning for what seems like the 10th day in row. But now we’re ready to go. We’re fired up.”
Outfielder Robbie Grossman said the A’s are “exactly where we want to be.”
He didn’t necessarily mean the A’s were delighted to be down two games to the Astros. The A’s are playing on a day when 22 of the other 30 big league teams are done with baseball for the season. So, opportunity exists.
“This team thrives of situations like this,” Grossman said. “This is what you play for from the first day of spring training. We want to be in this position, and here’s our opportunity, and we’re just looking forward to going out there and winning this game today.
“We’ve got to keep grounded. It’s October baseball. This is what we wanted to be a part of, to have this opportunity to move on.”
To do that, the A’s are going to need to go back in time, Lamb said, all the way back to the regular season, when their starting pitching kept them competitive and their offense played big late in the game.
To this point, their starters, Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea, have both allowed three runs in the first four innings and were out of the game by the fifth. And their offense doesn’t have a hit past the fourth inning. That’s made for a few long faces.
“There are going to be times when it’s a little down in the dugout, and that’s what we’ve got to focus on today,” Lamb said. “Obviously focus in the playing field. But for those who aren’t playing, we’ve got to be loud and rowdy in the dugout.”
The Astros have had that going for them in an otherwise empty Dodger Stadium. Manager Bob Melvin says that’s about the Astros being in front for most of both games.
Melvin, who said he held a brief pregame meeting just to remind everyone they’d been in a hole before dan dug their way out, said that one of the successes for the A’s against the White Sox was to get one simple thing done.
Facing elimination, they won. And then they did it again.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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