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ALDS Game 4: History seems against them, but A’s may react well to 2013′s first elimination game

Are the A’s headed for heartbreak again?

The last nine times they’ve been in a playoff series, they’ve walked away a loser eight times.

Since the 1990 World Series Oakland has played in a dozen games in which they could have clinched the series win, and they’ve lost 11 of those.

These are not good numbers, not if you’re an A’s fan, and yet these are the numbers facing Oakland heading into Thursday’s Game 5 against Detroit. It doesn’t help that the A’s are facing Justin Verlander in that one.

They didn’t score against Verlander in Game 2 in the course of seven innings, and they didn’t score against him last year in Game 5, a game that was close until the Tigers blew it open in the seventh en route to a 6-0 win.

So this is one seriously large piece of baggage the A’s have to lug around with them. It could be, to say the least, depressing.

Now while I’m not saying the club was exactly chipper after seeing a clinching win in Game 4 Tuesday slip away from them, they didn’t have that deer-in-the-headlights look that some teams in similar win-or-go-home situations have.

It certainly helps that the A’s have been in a Game 5 as recently as last year. It helps to that even though they didn’t score off Verlander the last time they saw him, Oakland did win the game.

From manager Bob Melvin down through his coaches, pitchers and hitters, the A’s seemed to take Tuesday’s loss in stride. Not pleasant, but not something to make you crazy.

Now that’s how it looks from the outside. We’ll see Thursday if they follow through with their let’s-worry-about-today-today scheme.

They’ve done it most of the year. They’re used to it.

At the same time, Thursday will be the first time they’ll be playing with the knowledge that their season will be over if they lose.

How they react emotionally will go a long way to deciding if their season will go on.

John Hickey

Returning to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.