It Wasn’t A Sprint, It Was A Marathon


Sep 28, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Members of the Oakland Athletics drench Adam Dunn during a locker room celebration following their 4-0 win over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Athletics clinched a wildcard playoff spot. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

It took the last game of the season to do it, but on the arm of “a 24-year-old kid who looks like he’s 14, pitches like he’s 30” Sonny Gray, the A’s nailed down a playoff berth that at times looked like a sure thing in July to an eventual hope and a prayer coming into the last week.

The A’s finished the 2014 campaign at 88-74 and went from having the best record in baseball as late as the beginning of August to an implosion losing games in the strangest ways and suffering from a lack of run production.

With just a 22-28 record for August and September, losing 30 of their final 46, the A’s saw the AL West slip away and then a 10-game wildcard lead dwindle to where they were fighting for the final spot. Talk about the Tortoise and the Hare.

The Athletics’ post-All-Star break winning percentage of .433 is the lowest in history by a playoff team.

But on Sunday, Gray and his teammates came through, looking like the A’s of spring where double plays were turned, runners in scoring position were scored, and leads were held.

Gray’s six-hitter sends the A’s to their third straight postseason and will head to Kansas City for the American League wild-card game tomorrow. Jon Lester will oppose the Royals’ James Shields.

Lester is 3-0 and has a 2.61 ERA against the Royals this season pitching for both the A’s and Red Sox. In two outings against the A’s this season Shields went 1-0 with one no decision and has allowed five runs on 11 hits.

During the postgame celebration, Josh Reddick noted, “I’ve been saying the last two weeks, if we get in, the last two months would be forgotten. All the naysayers and the negative vibes, they’re all gone now. We got in.”

Here’s hoping – for the A’s, but Reddick’s last two months shouldn’t be forgotten, they should be maintained.

Before the All-Star break, Reddick was batting a mere .229 with many, including myself, calling for him to be sent to Sacramento to get his swing back. But after two minor league rehab assignments that saw the 2012 Gold Glover trying to fix an injured knee in mid-June and again in July, Reddick came back to his old form, hitting .299 as the A’s best post All-Star break hitter with a .337 on-base percentage and .533 slugging percentage.

As Reddick concluded, “I’ve been saying it for months – two division titles, out Game 5, (2012 & 2013) get in with the Wild Card, Win the whole thing.”

Having Reddick maintain that form through will help in the A’s quest for 12 more victories in the post-season dash.