A's closer Blake Treinen last pitched at Nationals Park just over a year ago.
On July 7, 2017, Treinen retired all three batters he faced in his last inning of action with the Washington Nationals, before being traded to Oakland.
375 days later, he did the same thing, this time as an All-Star. The NL All-Stars went three up, three down against Treinen in his Midsummer Classic debut.
Along the way, Treinen even received help from his A's teammate and fellow first-time All-Star, second baseman Jed Lowrie.
Thanks to his perfect sixth inning, 30-year-old reliever handed off a 2-1 lead to AL teammate Charlie Morton in the seventh inning. Morton relinquished the lead on a Trevor Story solo homer.
Treinen pitched for the Nationals from 2014-17. Oakland traded Treinen, a 2011 seventh-round draft pick, to Washington as part of a three-team deal in 2013. Fans in D.C. gave him a warm welcome to his former home.
Trade deadlines often are exercises in fan tyranny, which is an odd thing to say about a group of people who hurl money and affection at their favorite teams with only a minimal possibility of return.
But fans do show what they think of their teams more aggressively around trade time, because they believe to their souls that teams show their devotion through player acquisition.
Be a buyer like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are feverishly working to score shortstop Manny Machado from Baltimore, and the world loves you. Be a seller like the Orioles, and you die alone. Just check the attendance figures if you doubt that.
And do nothing? Well, if you’re not even going to try...
Which brings us to the Oakland Athletics, who might actually be best off being counter-intuitive doing exactly that much of nothing between now and the July 31 deadline-ette.
The reason? They might be good enough as is.
To believe this, one must first accept the idea that Houston, Boston and the New York Yankees are simply better teams that the A’s are not yet in position to overtake, either in the regular season or October.
One must then assume that Cleveland isn’t worth worrying about, which is the safest assumption of all because the Indians will not cross Oakland’s path, except in the unlikely event that both Oakland and Cleveland gather in the ALCS.
And finally, one must believe that the injury-savaged Seattle Mariners (without Felix Hernandez and James Paxton, their two best starting pitchers) are about to revert aggressively toward the mean.
And that would seem to be the obvious path to October for the A’s.
Sure, they could move Jed Lowrie for a starting pitcher, but does Jake Odorizzi make the A’s a World Series contender? Does J.A. Happ? And why do you weaken one of the game’s best offensive infields to do only that.
And they could get a nice haul of prospects by moving closer Blake Treinen, but does a team contend with Lou Trivino as its closer? Maybe, but it’s not a risk most teams would be willing to embrace.
Not only that, but Billy Beane has sworn on a stack of Fangraphs printouts that he is tired of being a seller and wants a team good enough to encourage roster stability. This is that roster – as long as you believe that it can’t be turned into the Red Sox overnight, which it can’t.
So this would be the best thing to hope for if you are an A’s fan. Unless you think Beane and David Forst can do a prospects-for-Jacob deGrom deal from the incredibly distressed New York Mets, standing with this roster is wise approach, flaws and all. As we said, this is counter-intuitive and very non-Beaneian, but a small yet recognizable bandwagon is gathering around them and it might just be perfect to emerge into the nation’s view as it is – the one American League team that isn’t too much a bully or, conversely, backing into the postseason like Cleveland.
This is not a permanent state, mind you. Once they break out, the A’s will be judged by their free agency and trade deadline work like everyone else. But for this one year, this one set of circumstances, the A’s might be better off being the A’s.
But if Machado comes open at the last minute... if he’s willing to play second... and bat seventh... oh, God, we’re getting sucked into the deadline vortex, aren’t we?
The Oakland A's last made the playoffs in 2014. Beginning about a month after Salvador Perez walked Oakland off in the 12th inning of the AL Wild Card Game, the A's began the process of reshaping their team, trading away key players such as All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson and letting others walk away in free agency.
Oakland second baseman Jed Lowrie, who's set to appear in his first-ever MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, was one of those players. Naturally, the 34-year-old has a unique perspective, now that his A's have the sixth-best record in baseball.
On Monday, Pedro Martinez asked Lowrie on MLB Network if the A's are going to stay together this time.
"You know, I've been in Oakland when we've actually added pieces," Lowrie said. "And I think that front office knows an opportunity when they see it, and hopefully they see the opportunity this year because I think we've got a good group."
His bosses might be one step ahead of him. A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Bean told The Athletic on Friday that his team is prepared to add at the trade deadline. General manager David Forst, meanwhile, told Jim Rome last week that his team "deserves a chance to stay together."
Does Lowrie believe it?
“Like I said, it’s a smart group, and I think they recognize an opportunity when it presents itself,” Lowrie added in the MLB Network interview.
At 55-42, the A's might just have that opportunity.