Athletics

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's rally to end losing streak

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's rally to end losing streak

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND — The A’s spent the early part of the game flailing helplessly at Ubaldo Jimenez’s pitches.

But when Baltimore’s bullpen left the door cracked open in the later innings, the A’s pounced. Jed Lowrie tied the game in the eighth inning with an RBI ground-rule double and Chad Pinder’s sacrifice fly put Oakland ahead in a 5-4 victory over the Orioles that snapped a three-game losing streak.

It was a flashback to the way the A’s found a way to pull out home games early in the season, when they were one of the American League’s toughest home teams. Lately, that hasn’t been the case. Oakland came in having dropped 15 of its previous 24 at the Coliseum.

Their winning rally began when Matt Joyce doubled off Brad Brach to lead off the bottom of the eighth. He moved to third on Marcus Semien’s single. Then Lowrie’s ground-rule double tied the game and left runners at second and third. Khris Davis popped out, and then the A’s caught a break when Orioles first baseman Chris Davis couldn’t haul in Pinder’s catchable foul pop.

Pinder followed with a fly ball deep enough to score Semien and give Oakland the lead. Blake Treinen threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save as an Athletic. A’s relievers combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings total.

THE K’S KEEP COMING: Jimenez had the A’s mesmerized early, striking out eight of the first 11 hitters he faced. The game wound up being the 58th this season in which the A’s have struck out at least 10 times. That’s just one off the Oakland record set in 2012.

NO EASY OUTING: The Orioles got to A’s starter Paul Blackburn for four runs over 5 2/3 innings. He gave up 10 hits, the most he’s surrendered in eight major league starts. But in the context of how Oakland starters have stumbled lately, his outing wasn’t too bad. Blackburn also benefited from two ground-ball double plays.

OLSON GOES DEEP: Drawing the start at first base, Matt Olson hit a two-run homer in the fourth that briefly gave the A’s a 3-2 lead. It was a towering blast to center off Jimenez, Olson’s first homer since being recalled from the minors Tuesday.

AN ODD FIRST DAY: Boog Powell was slated to make his A’s debut after being called up earlier in the day from the minors. But the center fielder was scratched about an hour before the game with what the A’s described as an illness. Powell showed no signs of being sick while addressing reporters in the clubhouse and seemed OK during batting practice too, so whatever hit him had to hit rather suddenly. Matt Chapman had left Thursday night’s game due to illness too, but he felt what he had was likely food poisoning and not a contagious bug.

SURGERY FOR WAHL: The A’s announced that reliever Bobby Wahl, who’s been sidelined since May with right shoulder problems, will undergo thoracic outlet surgery on his shoulder Monday. The general timeline for recovery from such a procedure is roughly four to six months, so it’s unknown whether Wahl will be ready for spring training or not.

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

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Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection. 

In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral. 

After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia. 

And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts. 

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

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AP

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

Fox’ Matt Vasgersian, who does his job well,  declared the New York Yankees’ American League Division Series win over Cleveland to be amazing.

It is not. Not any more.

In fact, the Yankees winning three elimination games in succession is a feat that has happened seven times in the past three years. And we can only conclude from that that they’re not making teams that can avoid the bad beat the way they used to.

The 2017 Indians joined the 2016 Indians, Warriors and Thunder, the 2015 Clippers, Capitals and Texas Rangers, the 2014 Penguins and Sharks, the 2013 Red Wings, the 2012 Reds and Cardinals, the 2011 Penguins, the 2010 Bruins and Capitals as proud laryngectomy victims – teams that needed to win only one of three (or in the Sharks’ case, four) games to advance in the playoffs (or in the Warriors’ case, win).

That’s 15 times this “amazing” thing has happened, which means that by any estimate, teams that needed to win three consecutive games to escape the icy hand of Uncle Death are now pretty much the norm in this decade.

And why, you ask? I blame Twitter. I blame global warming. I blame video games. I blame smartphones. I blame phones. I blame the new president. I blame the old president. I blame Satan. I blame participation trophies and orange slices and juice boxes. I blame the players and I blame the owners and I blame the fans and definitely those smarmy bastards in the media. They’re the worst.

I blame you. Hell, I think I blame Matt Vasgersian.

But whomever is at fault, we have here an epidemic of feet strangling their owners when everything seems their cheeriest. And unless we live in such misery-enriched times that good times are only precursors to far worse ones, there is no sensible explanation. Players’ windpipes are no smaller than they were a decade ago. The Internet is older than seven years. Close-out games are not materially more difficult than they were before 2010.

And yet winning that one extra game is suddenly like finding out your SAT test has been written totally in anagrams. In other words, when things look brightest, that’s when you know you’re totally screwed.

And if you don’t believe me, ask Terry Francona. In a few weeks maybe. Not right away. Not unless you’re keen to see how it feels to have your neck used as a bathmat.