OAKLAND – With the A's trailing 3-0 going into the ninth inning of Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Thursday night, closer Grant Balfour entered the game to his customary Metallica and retired the Detroit Tigers in order.
It had the potential to be Balfour's last appearance with the A's, as he is free agent after the season. Balfour later indicated he would like to return to the place where he's played his last three seasons, while acknowledging he doesn't know how the offseason will play out.
"You always want to be here," Balfour said. "I enjoy my time here, I love the guys here, the coaching staff has been great to me, given me opportunities. But you never know what they're going to do in baseball. Just enjoy your time off for a little while and see where the ball lands, I guess."
Balfour saved 38 games and made the All-Star team this season while breaking the A's record for consecutive converted save opportunities, previously held by Dennis Eckersley. Balfour converted 44 in a row before blowing a save in Houston in July.
"I feel like I've gone out there and I've given everything I've had here for three years," Balfour said. "Now I'm a free agent again and that possibly could be my last game for the A's right there – it's a game that you never want to finish on.
"I want more. I wanted more last year. I'm not happy with the way it finished, plain and simple. I want to win a World Series. So I'm not complete and I guess I'll keep playing until I can find it."
Balfour said it was "tough" watching Justin Verlander defeat the A's in a winner-take-all Game 5 again, ending their season one win short of the A.L. Championship Series for the second consecutive year.
"Just when you see the same guy do it to you last year, it's kind of hard to watch," said Balfour. "Everyone's probably pressing a little bit. Everyone wants it so bad. And it just didn't come to us."
First baseman Brandon Moss went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts in Game 5, finishing with 13 in the series. It set an A's record for strikeouts in a playoff series, eclipsing the 10 by Josh Reddick in last year's ALCS.
Before the game, A's manager Bob Melvin moved Moss out of the cleanup spot for the first time in the series. Moss finished the series 2 for 18 with a home run after hitting 30 in the regular season.
"I'm not disappointed that I didn't hit more home runs in the series," Moss said. "I'm disappointed in the quality of at-bats that I had.
"It's one of those things where it's frustrating because you spend all year being a guy that can be counted on. And then you get to the most important spot, and you're not."
Right-hander A.J. Griffin (right elbow tendinitis) threw a bullpen session before the game, and Melvin said Griffin had "really made some strides here and (felt) good about potentially being there when we need him."
– Matt Kawahara