How do you sum up a week of baseball so good it ended with A’s facial hair going viral? There were so many good things that happened this week, you’d never know it all began with a 15-0 rout at the gnarly claws of the Astros. The A’s are currently perched at the tippy top of the Wild Card standings, hovering just above the clutches of Tampa and Cleveland.
The week started with what could only be called dismal. Or maybe a quagmire of sorrow. In fact, as the score against the Astros slogged into double digits before the crest of the second inning, this song started playing somewhere in the distance. How do you go on? How do you keep things positive after a day like that? After Mike Fiers loses his 12-game winning streak in one of the worst games of his career?
Well, you turn things around and kick some butt the next day.
Usually, a shift in momentum means a string of bounces and calls going your way, a little more zest to push in hits and runs for your side, while the other guys seem to miss a step here and trip up there. Momentum shifts feel good when you sense your team has picked up on one. Usually, a shift in momentum could mean a couple runs. Sometimes ... it means going from scoring 0 runs in one game to 21 runs in the next one.
That is how you revenge.
It doesn’t hurt to go ahead and take the rest of the series after that, clobbering the top team in the league with a combined score of 29-12 in three games.
In the middle of the mayhem, A’s rookie catcher, Sean Murphy got some more plate time, and boy did he make the best of it. After belting a home run for his first major league hit, Murphy needed a way to one-up this feat. How about ... two dingers in one game?!
Liam Hendriks, who is an awesome guy, has been honored TWICE this week. Once, thanks to his own grit, totaling a whopping 115 K’s so far this season, the most by an Australian Born player. Not only that, but Hendriks’ K last night tied him with the franchise single-season record, set by Rollie Fingers back in 1974.
Ironically, Hendriks would not have picked up his record-tying K if Matt Olson had not flubbed a routine catch at first. Planned? Probably not. However, exciting, as this means Hendriks’ next K will break Fingers’ record.
Furthermore, Hendriks was nominated for the 2019 Roberto Clemente Award. Hendriks has never been shy about his work with helping homeless animals and other noble causes in the Oakland community. This season, after he and his wife continuously fought personal death threats and harassment on social media, the couple decided to start the “Strike Out Bullying” campaign. Even prior to keyboard warriors being dingbats to them, the two were constant victims of bullying in their youth, and decided to use their platform now to send out a message about fighting against harassment and the damage it causes.
Without a doubt, the A’s are lucky to have a guy like Hendriks on the squad.
You can buy his Strike Out Bullying shirt here!
2019 has been an exciting season for many reasons. One being, our rising stars getting the Big League action they deserve, with guys like AJ Puk and Sean Murphy making the kind of impact we only could have day-dreamed about during our daily commutes. Never mind the work put in by Sheldon Neuse and Seth Brown.
Another name that has been whispered in the halls since his acquisition is lefty Jesús Luzardo. Luzardo came in the 2017 package deal that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nationals, and brought Luzardo, Neuse and Blake Treinen to Oakland. Talk about stocking up for the future!
Luzardo is only 21 years old, but has already fought against baseball misfortune to get to where he is now. In 2016, while still in high school, Luzardo underwent Tommy John surgery. The Nationals still drafted him, and Luzardo bounced back. Once with the A’s, he coasted through the minors, posting a 2.88 ERA and 129 K’s over all levels in 2018. At the beginning of 2019, Luzardo was vying for a spot in the A’s starting rotation. Unfortunately, he was forced off the mound due to a rotator cuff strain, which continuously pushed his MLB berth back and back and back until finally making his debut on September 11th.
Luzardo is also the first Peruvian-born player to reach the Majors, and the first Peruvian-born player drafted since 1990. He was selected at 18th overall by the Nationals, forgoing a commitment to Miami to pursue baseball.
Jurickson Profar heard us making fun of him — or smelled replacement — and turned himself around on both sides of the plate. Yes, I definitely made fun of Profar, but who didn’t cringe whenever it was his time to field a ball or hit? Finally, he found a spark and has been running with it. With the A’s at the top of the Wild Card attendee list, here’s to hoping the flame keeps burning as far as the A’s blaze this season!
Khrush is catching the fever, too, and finally had a blast of a week. He seemed to just wake up one day and start mashing again. Three dingers in six games
Saturday’s game started with Mike Fiers sporting some bizarre facial hair. The A’s have been known to go wild with the whiskers, but Fiers went the extra mile to shave his bushy beard into a goatee-beard-mustache mustache G/6/Cinnamon Roll thing combo. It was arguably awesome and undeniably memorable. Unfortunately, Fiers exited the game without being able to finish the second — again. This time, it was due to nerve irritation in his pitching arm, though it’s unclear yet how serious it is.
Fiers mentioned in a post game interview that the beard was done on a dare, and that no one thought he’d actually go out on the mound with it. Since it’s Fiers, of course he did.
The team had Fiers’ back, pounding the Rangers for a 8-6 victory. Buchter was the guy to pick up the W on the night.
If Fiers needs extended rest, our current six-man rotation allows for the freedom of one of the arms to take a seat without disrupting the pitching flow. Fiers can take his time recovering before the postseason arrives, without the guilt of knowing the team has to scramble to fill his rotation slot. However, if his injury truly is minor, then we could see him back in his next slated start with no problems.
A week ago, Sean Manaea put up a second solid outing back from shoulder surgery and his first win at the Coliseum. Today, he takes the mound in the cap of the three game set against the Rangers. Tomorrow, the A’s return to Oakland for their last home stand of the 2019 season. They start the stretch against the Royals on Monday night, hoping to gobble up the opposition and cruise into the postseason. Things won’t be easy, but one thing that’s for sure is that the battle for the Wild Card is going to be nothing but ... WILD!
... If anyone is still left after that, I give you this in consolation...