The A’s have won four games in a row, three of them in extra innings. They’ve hit four homers in the last three, for the first time in club history. They’ve won seven straight series, including three over teams leading their divisions. Matt Chapman is sixth in the league in wins above replacement. They currently sit 1.5 games behind Seattle for the second Wild-Card spot, 6.5 games behind the Yankees for the first, and 7.5 behind Houston for the division crown. They’ve gained seven games on the Mariners in the past 22 days; their 25-7 record since June 16 is the best in the majors; 16 of those wins have been comebacks. Things are getting weird in Oakland.
Last night brought perhaps the weirdest chapter yet. Down 10-2 to the Rangers going into the seventh, the A’s put up three in the seventh, four in the eighth, and one in the ninth to tie it up, then tacked on three more in the 10th to win it. Starting pitcher Frankie Montas, fresh off the plane from a stop in Triple-A, gave up four runs, his replacement Ryan Buchter sacrificed another five on a mere 26 pitches, and somehow Oakland still couldn’t manage to lose.
A’s fans weren’t expecting this, to say the least. When Kendall Graveman, the team’s opening day starter, had a disastrous start to the season and then hit the DL—he announced yesterday he would undergo Tommy John surgery, putting him out until September 2019 at the earliest—it didn’t seem to matter too much. This was a rebuilding season. When Sean Manaea threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox in April, I personally called him a “bright spot on an otherwise mediocre A’s squad.”
I’ve spent the past 20 years trying desperately to avoid getting my hopes up about the A’s. They’ve won a single playoff series during that time, in 2006, which they followed up by getting swept in the ALCS. They won 102 and 103 games in the height of the Moneyball years and lost 3-2 in both opening-round playoff series. The last time they were in the playoffs, in 2014, they were the ones giving up a string of unanswered runs and then losing in extras. And those teams, unlike the 2018 roster, had top-tier starting pitchers.
But for every justification I come up with for why I shouldn’t buy into this team, they counter with another thrilling win and another spate of dingers. There are 60 games left in the season. I’m hoping my heart can handle it.