They say it's better to be lucky than good. The A's have been plenty of both as of late, and benefited from yet another occurrence of the former against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night.
Ultimately, though, the A's weren't good enough to capitalize on it in a 4-3 loss.
Oakland blew the doors off the San Francisco Giants in the final game of the Battle of the Bay on Sunday, but the first two games of the series required utterly baffling defensive lapses on the part of the Giants to permit the A's to get a sweep.
A hesitation here. A step in the wrong direction there. Ultimately, the A's came away from that series looking far better than they easily could -- and probably should -- have. And late in their comeback against the Diamondbacks on Monday, it looked like lady luck was on the A's side once again.
Matt Chapman pulled Oakland within one run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth inning, scoring Vimael Machin and advancing Franklin Barreto to third. Matt Olson then came to the plate with two outs, and on the fourth pitch of his at-bat against Andrew Chafin, popped a 94 mph sinker into shallow left field.
Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed, who has won the last two Gold Gloves at the position, ran out and got under the fly ball. And then, the unthinkable happened, as Ahmed completely missed it and the ball fell to the ground for the game-tying RBI.
At that point, given everything that had transpired over the weekend, it certainly felt like the A's were headed for another late-inning shocker. But it was not to be.
Mark Canha flied out to end the inning. After Joakim Soria pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom half, the A's went in order in the top of the ninth. Then Ahmed redeemed himself by leading off the bottom of the ninth with a double to left, and eventually came around to score the winning run on a seeing-eye walk-off single through the right side by David Peralta.
The A's have had a flair for the dramatic since the opening game of the season, and when opponents have made costly errors, they've often made sure to make them pay. Frankly, it comes as a surprise when they don't, and while the A's deserve credit for their never-say-die mentality, it also has frequently been on display due to an inability to score early in games.
For a team loaded with offensive talent, that's a bit difficult to explain. And while A's manager Bob Melvin doesn't necessarily have an answer as to why, he isn't arguing with the results.
"I don't know," Melvin said after the 4-3 loss. "It seems like the early innings have given us the biggest problems, and then in the later innings we've been really good. So, I'm not sure to tell you the truth. I think we've done pretty well up to this point with that recipe."
He's not wrong. Monday's loss dropped the A's to 16-7 on the season and 13-3 in their last 16 games. Whatever deficiencies they've had, they've been able to overcome through timely hitting, tremendous defense and a dominant bullpen.
Oh, and a little luck sprinkled in.