10/05/2003 10:00 AM ET
Pressure mounting on the A's
Have lost seven straight playoff 'clinch' games
BOSTON -- Derek Lowe said it as early as Friday. He said the pressure
was on Oakland.
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
That he said it when the A's still were leading the American League
Division Series, 2-0, compelled him to qualify the comment by admitting it
sounded crazy, but it didn't sound so crazy Sunday morning.
After Trot Nixon sent a sellout crowd at Fenway Park into delirium with
a walk-off homer in the 11th inning Saturday night, the A's were left to
ponder a recent playoff history every bit as unsavory as Boston's
playoff history as a whole.
In 2000, the underdog A's hosted the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the
ALDS and lost. In 2001, they shocked the baseball world by winning the
first two games at Yankee Stadium but laid an egg in two home games and
lost the decider back in New York. In 2002, they were up 2-1 on the
Minnesota Twins, lost Game 4 at the Metrodome and spit the bit again at
Game 5 in Oakland.
Seven chances to move on to the AL Championship Series. Seven
disappointments. Sunday is chance No. 8, and Tim Hudson will be on the mound for
the A's trying to stop the slide.
"It's not something we think about a lot," Hudson said before this series started. "But when it's brought up,
you're kind of like, 'Man, that is pretty bad, isn't it?' We need to get that fixed."
If they don't get it fixed behind Hudson, who'll start Game 4 opposite
Boston's John Burkett, they'll turn to Barry Zito for Game 5 in
Oakland. Told of Lowe's assessment, Zito didn't entirely disagree.
"I think they've got the same kind of pressure, but yeah, we've got
some of our own," Zito said. "I mean, how many chances are you going to
get? We've gotten four now, and it's time we cashed in."
Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to
approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.