OAKLAND — When a team enjoys a stretch like the A’s currently are, no one wants to miss a moment.
So it was that Kendall Graveman, who’d changed out of his uniform after finishing his post-start regimen, felt compelled to slip back into his game pants and jacket and return to the A’s dugout before the bottom of the 11th Monday night.
He arrived just in time to see Jed Lowrie crack a two-out home run that gave the A’s a 3-2 win over the Angels, giving Oakland three walk-off victories in three days.
“I was sitting up here (in the clubhouse) the last half (of the 11th) and said, ‘I gotta go down and cheer the guys on,’” Graveman said afterward. “So I put my stuff back on and went to the dugout. It’s a good feeling. What’s special about this team is you don’t know who it’s going to be getting the big hits at the end of the game.”
The A’s have latched on to a winning formula: Keep the game close, rely on the bullpen to put up multiple zeros and then wait for someone to emerge as a hero.
Repeat as needed.
It was Lowrie's turn Monday. His return to health after left foot surgery, and another procedure to fix a deviated septum, has been an under-the-radar bright spot in itself. But he’s also been the A’s steadiest hitter, lately from the No. 2 spot in the lineup. He doesn’t get much of the spotlight, as A’s catcher Stephen Vogt pointed out, but he came through with the third multi-homer game of his career (first since 2010) and his second walk-off blast.
“He’s been quietly the Steady Eddie for us all year,” Vogt said. “… He’s just sitting there, no one ever talks about him. He’s by far, to me, our most consistent, best hitter. He always has been, and it’s really fun to watch what he’s been doing.”
The A’s hadn’t won three consecutive games in walk-off fashion since June 1-3, 2004. And the euphoria surrounding these kinds of stretches is always accompanied by some sort of colorful ritual.
Introducing the Rally Skittle. Or as Lowrie says the A’s call them, “Hittles.”
During spring training, a fan that Vogt identified as “Leah” brought the team some Skittles, and the A’s went on a five-game Cactus League winning streak afterward. The seed was planted. Vogt brought a bag of the rainbow candy down to the dugout Saturday night, and well, you can see where this is going.
It’s not the first time Skittles have merged with sports. Former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who just joined the Raiders, made headlines by gobbling them on the sideline during games.
“I guess it’s fitting that Beast Mode is back in Oakland,” Vogt said. “But you can’t bring them out early. You gotta know when to bring them out. We’re 3-for-3 with Rally Skittles. We’re having fun with it. The other night I brought them down in the ninth. (On Sunday) I brought them down in the eighth. We had to stretch them out tonight.”
Lowrie didn’t indulge too much before his walk-off blast off Deolis Guerra, which came on a 1-0 changeup.
“I had one every single inning,” he said. “Bottom nine, bottom 10, bottom 11 … because that's all we needed was one run.”
Sometimes these crazes fade. Sometimes they don’t. But there’s no doubt that the A’s (15-17), who seemed spiraling in the wrong direction on a 2-7 road trip, have been reinvigorated.
“Three in a row of these -- pretty crazy,” Lowrie said. “Minus some big postseason games, this is about as exciting of a stretch of baseball as I've been a part of.”