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Oakland A’s ride the wave during 13-game win streak

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The A’s were unbeatable for more than two weeks straight

SFChronicleTwinsAthletics Santiago Mejia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

It’s difficult to imagine a more thrilling way to begin a season.

The Oakland A’s got everybody worried by opening 2021 with a six-game losing streak, en route to a 1-7 start. Then they caught the biggest swell we’ve seen in decades.

For more than two weeks, we watched the A’s ride the wave. By the time it ended Sunday afternoon, they’d won 13 games in 17 days, jumping from the MLB cellar up to first place in their AL West division. It’s the third-longest win streak in Oakland history, after their 20-gamer in 2002 and a 14-gamer in 1988. They’re also the first MLB team ever to start 0-6 and then put up a win streak of at least 11 later that year, much less later that month.

They wiped out the Astros, D’Backs, Tigers, Twins, and Orioles along the way, by a total run differential of 81-36, or a little better than 6-3 on average. More than half of the contests weren’t close, with only four requiring saves from the bullpen and two more being decided in the final at-bat.

By the end, the wave grew so righteous that it felt like divine intervention from the Baseball Gods. The two walk-offs both came on errors by the opposing team, the 1-0 win was sealed on a flyout to the wall, and the weekend in Baltimore was threatened by a rainstorm that never got heavy enough to interrupt play. Even the janky lights at the Coliseum couldn’t stop them for more than 25 minutes.

Revisit the streak using the game recap links below!

The lineup was particularly thunderous, scoring at least six runs in nine of the games, and they were led by a few standouts. These numbers are for just the 13 games of the streak.

  • 1B Matt Olson: 18-for-44, 273 wRC+, 6 HR, 3 Ks, 16 RBI
  • 2B Jed Lowrie: 15-for-47, 177 wRC+, 3 HR, 4 doubles, 15 RBI
  • OF Mark Canha: 13-for-43, 184 wRC+, 2 HR, 10 BB, 4 SB, 17 runs
  • DH Mitch Moreland: 6-for-22, 177 wRC+, 2 HR, walk-off smash
  • OF Seth Brown: 8-for-29, 174 wRC+, 3 HR, 6 RBI (1 RBI in 1-0 win)
  • C Sean Murphy: 7-for-31, 135 wRC+, 1 HR, 8th-inn game-tying RBI

Olson had an .886 slugging percentage as he hammered the ball throughout, and Canha boasted a .464 on-base from the leadoff spot. Stephen Piscotty (102 wRC+) also homered twice.

The pitching staff had some heroics too, especially in the bullpen. Lou Trivino and Jake Diekman each notched a pair of saves, offering hope for the 9th inning after losing their expected closer to injury before Opening Day. And Yusmeiro Petit came through with eight sparkling innings over seven games, allowing just one run and stranding all four of his inherited runners.

  • Hitting: .254/.346/.475, 138 wRC+, 24 HR, 13 SB, 10.2% BB, 22.2% Ks, .364 xwOBA
  • Pitching: 2.68 ERA, 114 ip, 117 Ks, 24 BB, 7 HR, 102 hits, .284 xwOBA

But perhaps the best highlight was one completely handed to the A’s by their opponent. They played out of their minds for these 13 games, but the magic never ran deeper than this, when it looked like it was all over only to see the wave continue for another day. Ramon Laureano didn’t hit much during the streak (99 wRC+), but he did homer twice, steal four bases, and score nine runs. Simply making contact was enough to create this walk-off moment, turning an imminent loss into a 13-12 win in the 10th.

The celebration of choice became the wavy hand motion, as demonstrated below by Matt Chapman. He’s off to a slow start at the plate this year, but he muscled five extra-base hits and eight RBI during the streak (94 wRC+).

No surprise to see Elvis Andrus involved in a celebration, and he also chipped in several key plays during the streak despite a quiet overall line (65 wRC+). He reached base 15 times, stole three bags, and scored seven runs.

Sean Manaea made three quality starts to help earn three of the wins, including a seven-inning shutout in the doubleheader against the Twins — and then Jesús Luzardo led the A’s to another shutout in the nightcap, Oakland’s first scoreless twin-bill since 1974 and their third in the Oakland era. The pitching staff also blanked the Tigers twice the previous weekend, giving them four shutouts in a five-game span, which the franchise hasn’t done since the Philadelphia days in 1909.

New lefty Cole Irvin bounced back from two losses to win both his starts during the streak, letting through just one run total.

The rest of the dugout got into it too. Tubular!

Catcher Aramis Garcia hit his first homer of the year, against the Tigers. Even Brodie Brazil and Bip Roberts joined in on postgame.

Chris Bassitt made three starts on the mound, and authored the best player tweet of the streak.

Diamond Vision did its part.

And finally, a montage of the action.

And the best part? This was only the beginning. There are still five months to go in the season, which is plenty of time to catch another wave and reel off some more memorable wins. As far as streaks go, though, at this point the one Athletics Nation wants next is a fourth straight trip to October.