Sure enough, I woke up to highlights of Jemile Weeks hitting a leadoff triple in the bottom of the 15th inning, followed by a sacrifice fly from Coco Crisp that marked Oakland’s 10th straight victory in one-run games, its best streak since 2000, and brought on the now routine Oakland walk-off celebration. First was the manhunt of the person responsible for the game-winning hit and a pair of shaving cream pies to the face during a post-game interview. As of late, all are a commonplace for the Athletics.
That’s just the way the second half of the season has gone so far for the boys by the bay. After getting off to a horrible start, the A’s sat in last place in the AL West with a record of 26-35 on June 10, nine games behind the first-place Texas Rangers. Things did not improve as Oakland dropped to 13 games back of the division lead to open the month of July. That’s when things changed.
Tearing through competition in July, the A’s posted a 19-5 mark for the month, the best single month record of an American League squad since the A’s last did it in August of 2002, going 24-2 (which included a 20-game winning streak). The recent success has catapulted Oakland back into the playoff picture. Now, 10 games over .500 and 4½ games behind the Rangers, the Athletics hold the No. 1 wild card spot as of right now.
And now as an A’s fan, I sit and wait for the drop off and the heartbreak.
The Athletics have taken me down this road before. Four straight years from 2000-2003 I lived with every pitch only to have my hopes of the Green and Gold raising the World Series trophy dashed in the opening round division series. In 2006, I again allowed myself to believe as the A’s ventured into the AL Championship Series, only to be devastatingly swept by the Detroit Tigers.
Now, as the rest of the baseball world begins to take notice of the A’s and what they are accomplishing, I am telling myself not to buy in. Common sense says not to.
How can a team that has sent 11 rookie pitchers to the mound, including a starting rotation that has four big league newcomers, have the best American League staff? How can a team that has used 18 rookies on the diamond string together 21 victories over 27 games en route to the thick of the playoff race from the basement of the AL West? How can a team that is batting .230, good for last in the majors, continue to get the hits it needs at the right moment?
The A’s are a rag-tag bunch of misfits that are defying the odds, just like the squads in years past that left me wanting more. Many people are beginning to compare the team to the lineup that took the field across the bay in San Francisco in 2010. That team rode outstanding pitching and an opportunistic offense to a World Series title.
Ah heck, maybe they could.