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Game #154: A's Play (And Win!) A Real Baseball Game

Sure, it's game 154 of the season that just won't end. Sure, neither the A's nor the Giants are going to the 2015 postseason. Sure, they A's have lost 5 in a row. But tonight, on a beautiful late-September evening, in a nearly-full ballpark in Oakland, California, we can almost forget those pesky details as we enjoyed a solid 5-4 win from the green and gold. Sonny Gray earned the win, Sean Doolittle the save, Billy Burns hit a home run, and if you squint really, really hard, maybe you can see the A's as how they should be.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Forgive me, but I just have no idea how to recap a win. The A's default setting in the 2015 season, especially on Friday nights, is "lose", and I'm not sure how exactly to celebrate this one. I imagine that this win was as pretty close to what we expected from our high hopes at the beginning of the year; Sonny Gray started the game, Sean Doolittle closed it, and the A's won. It should have been a formula for success all season long, but then things happened. Mistakes were made. Games were lost. And in game 154, we see the shadow, the very glimmer, of what could have been. And for one night, in front of a full crowd, it was enough. Preview for 2016? You decide.

Sonny Gray was not sharp early, walking the lead-off hitter in the first before giving up a two-run home run to give the Giants the early lead. Yet for such an inauspicious start, Gray finished his night with six strong innings, allowing just five hits and the two runs, while striking out seven. After a week of uninspiring, losing baseball, Bob Melvin went to his two best pitchers and used Dull and Doolittle for more than an inning each.

The A's rallied back to tie the game and take the lead in the second and third innings, helped by a Valencia double and a Sogard force-out and a Fuld single and a two-run bomb by Billy Burns. The A's and Sonny Gray held the 3-2 lead into the seventh, when Dull gave up his first run of the season; a home run to Jarrett Parker. The A's would get the run right back on a Fuld single, and after he alertly tagged up and took second base on a fly out, Josh Reddick's single drove him in.

Doolittle allowed a single in the eighth to allow Dull's second run to score, and squeezed the score to a tight 5-4, but a splendid running catch by Stephen Vogt, catching tonight for the first time in three weeks, ended the inning and left the bases loaded for the Giants. Doolittle entered the dugout to a raucous yell from the crowd and came back out for the ninth. Granted, 38 pitches is a LOT in a meaningless game, especially for the previously injured Doolittle, but he pitched a perfect ninth; striking out his last two batters. If only...right?

Tomorrow afternoon is the game of the year for the A's as Tim Hudson for the Giants takes on Barry Zito for the A's. We'll be here at 1:05.