The A’s have had so many bizarre seasons from 2001, where they started to 2-10 on their way to winning over a hundred games to 2002, when they rattled off 20 consecutive wins to 2012 when they came out of nowhere to stun the Texas Rangers and win the AL West.
But as the ebb and flow of strange seasons go, the 2005 campaign is up there with the best of them. Yesterday, the A’s were on the verge of starting 0-7. How close? If Matt Chapman is gunned down at the plate on Elvis Andrus’ short fly ball, the A’s are toast. But Chapman was safe on a close play, and the A’s turned what they hope is a corner.
Flashback to 2005 and a putrid start that lasted longer, all the way to the latter part of May. Oakland sat 17-32 after 49 games, and game 50 looked like more of the same as the A’s batted in the bottom of the 9th trailing by one run.
What spared Oakland that night was a seeing-eye ground ball off the bat of Jason Kendall with two outs. Instead of being a routine grounder to 3B or SS to end the game and send the A’s to defeat yet again, Kendall’s 37-hop ground ball found the hole for an infield hit, the A’s would tie the game and later walk off a win.
The 2021 A’s can only hope yesterday’s walk off, from the brink of extinction, is the turning point game 50 proved to be in 2005. Because in 2005, the A’s got as hot as they had been cold, and then some. Oakland played .800 ball for the next 2 months, owning interleague opponents in the process, peaking by catching the Angels atop the AL West on an August day best-known for the “sulk-off” (once again prominently featuring Kendall).
From there the 2005 A’s did run out of gas, magic, or both, but it was quite a ride. That team was 15 games under .500, not 5, with 113 to play, not 155.
Just a reminder that anything can happen, and with the A’s it usually does. And If Cole Irvin can beat the Astros in Houston, you will have a pretty good inkling that magic is once again in the air.