A's Mourn Lost Series; Celebrate Strong Year

Zito and the A's said good-bye to 2006.

If there were any tears, they were shed in private. There weren't many red eyes, either. Sure, it hurt. Sure, it stung. But the reality of what happened to the A's wasn't lost on the players.

They were swept in four games by the Detroit Tigers, dropping the Game 4 clincher on a dramatic three-run walk-off homer by Magglio Ordonez in the ninth inning off A's closer Huston Street.

"The bottom line is you have to give credit to the Tigers," A's third baseman Eric Chavez said. "You can nitpick, but we got beat by a really good team. We ran into a buzzsaw."

The A's batted .221 in the series, were 4-for-27 (.148) with runners in scoring position, didn't get a "quality start" in any of the four games, and were outscored 22-9 overall.

"There's something called a 'chaos theory,' " center fielder Mark Kotsay said. "You just can't control certain things. We did our best. It wasn't a lack of effort. It was a lack of execution."

The A's reached the playoffs this year for the fifth time in seven years. They finally got over the Division Series hump but were denied their first trip to the World Series since 1990 yet again.

"There's not a lot of what-ifs," A's general manager Billy Beane said. "They deserve to go forward. They played well in all areas."

Oakland lost for the 10th time in 12 postseason games in which they have faced elimination, including the last five. Oakland's last victory in an elimination game was Game 4 of the 2000 Division Series at New York.

"My personal belief is that's the best team in baseball," right fielder Milton Bradley said. "Top to bottom."

A's Notebook

--RF Milton Bradley ended the series with nine hits in four games, five RBIs, and recorded 17 of Oakland's 48 total bases. "It was fun watching Milton," general manager Billy Beane said. "With the spotlight on him, he rose to the occasion. It seemed like he was having a lot of fun. He was able to show what he's capable of doing."

--LHP Barry Zito, arguably the most prized starting pitcher on the free agent market this offseason, wasn't in the mood after the game to discuss what will happen this winter. "It doesn't make sense to pick out a priority because I'm in this locker room right now," Zito said. "My preference is to be happy. Those are crazy decisions to make right now."

--LF Jay Payton, who homered in the fourth inning, is one of four free agents on the A's roster. Payton said he wasn't concerned about where he'll end up next year because "I'll have a job somewhere."

--RHP Dan Haren struck out seven in five-plus innings, the most by an A's starter in a playoff game since Barry Zito had nine in Game 2 of the 2003 Division Series against Boston. It tied the second-most by an A's starter in an ALCS game, trailing the club-record eight by Vida Blue in Game 1 of the 1973 ALCS.

--LHP Joe Kennedy threw a wild pitch and Haren threw two. The three wild pitches by the A's tied an LCS record by one team in a game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I told the players they can't let this series diminish what they did this year. I thought it was a tremendous year. The guys played their tails off and that's all you can ask." -- Manager Ken Macha.

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