ANAHEIM — After the A’s set franchise records for futility this season, there was one record broken and another milestone reached Sunday that may help them head into the winter on a positive note, despite their season-ending 7-3 loss to the Angels.
Outfielder Esteury Ruiz broke Kenny Lofton’s American League single-season record by a rookie with his 67th stolen base. Then A’s journeyman outfielder Brent Rooker, the team’s lone All-Star this season, smashed his career-best 30th home run of the year.
The A’s finished their funereal season at 50-112 after going 60-102 last year, posting the franchise’s worst record since the 1916 Philadelphia A’s went 36-117. With reviled owner John Fisher’s Vegas relocation dreams hanging over the Coliseum, the A’s have endured their first back-to-back 100-loss seasons in Oakland and the franchise’s first since 1964-65 in Kansas City.
But the two feel-good moments Sunday helped take the sting out of another loss. Rooker’s blast and Ruiz’s record stolen base in the third inning that eclipsed Lofton’s 1992 AL record, brought out a lot of emotions in the Oakland dugout.
“It was a goal for (Ruiz),” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “I know how hard he’s worked. He’s relentless in his preparation. He studies pitchers, and he’s great at picking up tendencies. … And it’s great for Rook. I actually had a pretty big reaction for the kid. I think it’s because I know where he’s come from. He was the 26th man on the team out of spring training, so I reacted a little bit more emotional probably than I should have but … I know what it means to him.”
Emotions were the theme of the day as Angels’ two-way star Shohei Ohtani navigated through the bags and boxes strewn across the Los Angeles Angels’ clubhouse after the season finale, exchanging hugs and memorabilia signatures with his teammates while they all packed up for the winter.
Everybody in the building knew this might be Ohtani’s final game day with this team after six unprecedented years, and the uncertainty over their beloved superstar looms above every other question hanging over the Halos.
Ohtani was in the Angels’ dugout all weekend, cheering on his teammates for their final two games less than two weeks after having surgery on his pitching elbow. Ohtani can become a free agent after the World Series, and the Halos haven’t made the playoffs or finished higher than third in the AL West during his tenure in Anaheim.
“Shohei is going to make the best decision for himself and his family, and we respect that, (but) we hope he’s an Angel for the rest of his career,” said Angels outfielder Mickey Moniak, who had a breakout season — particularly while hitting behind Ohtani. “I’d love to be his teammate for a really long time.”
The Angels wrapped up their eighth consecutive losing season with a win as Brandon Drury hit two home runs and a double and drove in three runs to key the victory over Oakland.
Carson Fulmer (1-1) yielded two hits and three walks over five scoreless innings for the Angels in his first major league start since Sept. 24, 2019. The former eighth overall pick by the White Sox was out of the majors last year, but joined the Angels’ system in May and got called up last week.
JP Sears (5-14) yielded four hits and three runs over four innings for the A’s.
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