Have the Oakland Athletics Turned a Corner?


Sep 17, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher

Geovany Soto

(17) is congratulated by Athletics team after Soto scored on a single by Athletics right fielder

Sam Fuld

(23), not in picture, during the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

It took them four games, but the Oakland Athletics finally collected their first win of the homestand on Friday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. Sure the win came against a last-place Phillie squad, but these are games the Athletics should win. The struggling Oakland offense was opposed by David Buchanan (6-8, 3.77).

While Buchanan is far from a household name outside of the town that is best-known for booing Santa Claus,  the 25-year old righty had been very solid entering Friday’s contest. While the A’s didn’t exactly light-up Buchanan like the fireworks that filled the sky following the game, they did achieve a feat that no team had accomplished in Buchanan’s previous six starts: they scored three times off him.

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Buchanan entered the game giving up three runs or fewer in each of his last 14 starts (15 after Friday), but had allowed two or fewer in his previous six.

Sure, the total could have been higher if the Athletics were able to scratch out a hit with the bases loaded in the seventh, but the ultimate goal is to win the game. The A’s also loaded the bases in the eighth, and again failed to score. That’s all of the bad news.

What I witnessed Friday night was a team that was more focused. In the top of the second, Darin Ruf grounded the ball to Stephen Vogt, who threw to second to get the runner. Big deal. The encouraging part was that on the return throw, both Jon Lester and Vogt were covering first. Against Texas, Fernando Abad failed to cover first, prolonging an already terrible inning.

Yes, this is a small detail, and it doesn’t show up in the box score, but these are the details that the Athletics’ defense has failed to achieve over the past few weeks.

The A’s also had a little bit of luck roll their way. I mean, Adam Dunn was credited with an infield single in the three-run second. Dunn hit a ball that ricocheted off of the pitcher, and was subsequently booted up the middle, allowing Dunn to reach first safely.

Sam Fuld has been drilling the ball. While the box score for Friday’s game will show he went 0 for 3, he hit two balls sharp, but right into the gloves of the first and third basemen. At some point Murphy’s Law will become just a theory.

Friday night also represented the first time since April 5th that the A’s were not either the first wild card team or in first in the AL West. Their backs were against the wall, and what did they do? They gathered a much-needed win. Whether or not the Oakland Athletics have turned a corner remains to be seen, but if they keep playing like they did on Friday, there is room for a little optimism to creep in.