The A’s have had every card dealt to them this season, including ones that could have derailed their season. However, a 32-19 record with a chance to take the AL West proves they won’t fold.
From the beginning, the team, like the rest of the league, had to adjust to what is now the new norm surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Pitcher Jesús Luzardo tested positive for COVID-19 prior to Summer Camp, delaying his much-anticipated debut in the A’s starting rotation.
It never stopped after that.
At the end of last month and the beginning of this one alone, the A's:
- Walked off the field with the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros in protest of the Kenosha, Wisconsin police shooting of Jacob Blake
- Dealt with Hurricane Laura's approach into Houston
- Didn't play for nearly a week after pitcher Daniel Mengden tested positive for the coronavirus
Oh, and the team announced on Sept. 12 that Platinum Glove Award-winning third baseman Matt Chapman would miss the rest of the season.
Still, the A’s persevered.
“First, it was just adjusting to the new protocols," A’s shortstop Marcus Semien said before Saturday's game against the Giants. "Whether it was how we can prepare for the game -- no video during the game, that’s a big one for me just to be able to go look at my at-bats, just adjust to what the strike zone is, or what I’m doing that day,”
“So those are tough things. And then we have the COVID situation, where we had a bunch of time off, then we lost (Matt) Chapman, but we’re coming out of all that OK. At the end of the day, we’re just trying to win and do whatever it takes to win that day.”
The versatile Chad Pinder ultimately was supposed to take over for Chapman, but Pinder remains out with a hamstring strain. Instead, a pair of new faces are stepping up.
The A’s acquired Tommy La Stella in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels near the deadline, and the deal is working out beautifully.
In 18 games entering Saturday, La Stella slashed .309/.377/.412. In 68 at-bats, he struck out just once.
Jake Lamb signed a one-year deal with the A's on Monday after the Arizona Diamondbacks DFA'd him. By Friday, the red-hot Lamb had his eyes on the postseason, even mentioning the World Series after the 6-0 shutout win over the Gants.
The A’s have been able to find ways to get through it all, all while remaining close, and having fun. Within the protocols, of course.
“I think that it’s a different year, and most years when we get to go on the road and get into a city, go to dinner together, that’s how you build team camaraderie," Semien said. but this year, it’s been a little different."
“We do a little bit more things in the clubhouse to keep it loose while following the protocols and all of that. To me, it’s kind of sad that 60 games is already almost up, because I feel like we’re just getting started, but that is what it is.”