OAKLAND — Matt Olson doesn't remember a whole lot from his trip around the bases following his first career walk-off home run.
“I blacked out,” he laughed. “I remember chucking my helmet, and just yelling and jumping around with all the guys.”
That type of scene seems to be a nightly occurrence for these Oakland Athletics, now 39-13 in their last 52 games. From record comebacks to late inning histrionics, the A's have become arguably the biggest story in all of baseball.
“We play our best baseball late in games,” said manager Bob Melvin. “Even if we're down, we feel like we have a chance.”
Added Olson: “We've known that we're a very good team all along. We knew going into the year we were going to have a chance to make a run, so we're glad to finally get a little recognition for it. When we go out and win games like this, people will notice a little bit.”
People have certainly noticed, and not just a little bit. The A's have all but erased a 12-game deficit in the last two months, pulling within a single game of the defending World Series champions for first place in the AL West.
Even more incredible than that 39-13 record since mid-June is the way the A's have done it. 21 of those 39 victories have been of the comeback variety, and 15 have seen the winning run scored in the eighth inning or later.
“They're just confident they're always going to come back and have a chance if it's late,” Melvin said. “Success breeds confidence and we've had plenty of both late in games.”
“This team is capable of doing special things like that on a daily basis, and tonight showed that,” added starting pitcher Edwin Jackson. “That was a hell of a game, and I think that's an understatement.”
As Friday's game moved into the later innings, it began to feel like those Oakland heroics might not happen. The A's squandered a golden opportunity to at least tie the game in the eighth inning, failing to score with runners on first and second, and no outs. Olson struck out in a key spot that inning, but ultimately got a chance to redeem himself, and took full advantage.
“Oly's always one swing away from putting you ahead or hitting a home run,” Melvin said. “You saw what he did last year. Maybe he's not on the same pace this year, but he gets big hits for us, and everybody feels good when he's at the plate.”
“Definitely one of the cooler things I've done in my career,” Olson smiled. “It's the most juiced I've gotten on a field, for sure.”