Just 12 games ago, I was despondent over how the A's bullpen, which had been so good for the first 28 games of the season, blew up the day the team eviscerated longtime nemesis Felix Hernandez for eight runs. Even though the result completed a sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners, I was going to let it go as just one of those days until a single post-game comment from Nelson Cruz sent me into a jealous rant. I wrote:
There are moments in a successful season that you point to where you go, "This is when the club came together." For a little while, that could have been today for the A's as they scored and scored and scored some more on a long-feared rival ace. Instead, the Mariners get their moment today:
Felix said that Cruz walked up to him after the 5th and said, "We are going to win this game." Hernandez replied: "I believe in you guys."— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) May 4, 2016
The new guy hit two big home runs, the bullpen kept their club in the game, one veteran told the other they wouldn't hang another loss on him.
Do any of you believe that these Athletics are capable of a pledge like that, down four runs after a two-error inning and having their teammates believe it? I haven't seen that out of any of these Athletics. I wonder if we ever will. And I wonder who will get the ax if it doesn't happen.
Tuesday night made me believe yes, these 2016 Athletics are capable of that. Having seen Danny Valencia single-handedly take down the Tampa Bay Rays last Sunday, these A's seem to have an "It isn't over until it's over" attitude that feels like it's been missing for a long time. They did not let the back-to-back home runs allowed in the fourth inning sap their will to hit the baseball anymore. They certainly did not allow Ryan Madson's blown save to affect them, not after he came up big for the A's the last two days:
Vogt on A's dugout after Desmond HR: "There wasn’t a deflation in our dugout. It was like, ‘OK, let’s do this a different way.’ "— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) May 18, 2016
And so the A's did. Stephen Vogt took care to keep his feet within the running lane to avoid getting called out for interference. Coco Crisp came up huge and smartly recognized that Nomar Mazara was going to throw the ball in towards home, essentially stealing second base on the rookie right fielder. Sure Burns and Valencia could not advance Vogt home, but that's alright, Khris Davis was there to pick them up:
There are moments in a successful season that you point to where you go, "This is when the club came together." The new guy hit three home runs, Sean Doolittle did well in a tight spot, and the club came together to rescue Ryan Madson after he did so well the last couple of days.
These A's have found their moment.