Oakland Athletics Win Series In Tampa Bay

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The Oakland Athletics salvaged their series against the Tampa Bay Rays, thanks to the bat (and glove) of Danny Valencia.

Considering how badly the month of May has been going for the Oakland Athletics, it was a little scary to be playing over a weekend that started on Friday the 13th. Fortunately for the A’s and their fans, it seemed as though it was the Devil Rays…err, the Tampa Bay Rays, that seemed to be jinxed.

Friday night, in the bottom of the ninth, Tampa Bay loaded the bases with a walk, a strikeout, a hit by pitch and a walk. Closer Ryan Madson was really struggling, and Evan Longoria was striding to the plate representing the winning run. Longoria hit a bullet…right into the glove of Danny Valencia, who had a great weekend in Florida. The next hitter popped out to center, and Madson got the save. The A’s got lucky on Friday the 13th.

Saturday, the Athletics could just do nothing with the Rays’ Matt Andriese. They suffered their first shutout of the year.

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On Sunday, the A’s were both lucky and unlucky. I honestly believed that I was going to be writing a story about how the A’s are just not good enough this year to overcome their issues. I thought I’d be writing about Tyler Ladendorf‘s game changing error or how Sonny Gray continues to struggle with wild pitches and the gopher ball. I was going to be writing about how the A’s need the umps to not  make incredibly inept calls.

In other words, I was going to be writing about how the A’s needed all the little things to be working just right to even have a chance at winning.

With one swing of the bat, Valencia changed the entire story line. Instead of talking about how the A’s are just snake-bit in the month of May, now, the story is all about how the A’s found a way to keep battling right down to their last strike. With two outs and two strikes, Billy Burns doubled. Then Danny Valencia hit his third home run of the game, and Ryan Madson got his tenth save of the year. The A’s found a way to overcome a lot of little failures.

Make no mistake…there were a lot of failures with the A’s this weekend. Stephen Vogt went 0-11 and dropped 14 points off his batting average. The A’s made three more errors. Even though Rich Hill got the win on Friday, the starting pitching was pretty forgettable. The starters gave up 13 runs (10 earned) and had an era of 5.14.

On the other hand, Valencia hit five home runs. Yeehaw!!!! Who cares about anything else? But there were also a lot of other bright spots for the A’s. Marcus Semien tied an Athletics’ record for the most home runs batting ninth in the order. It is all subjective, but I would say his defense is above average for a major league shortstop. Sean Doolittle, John Axford and Madson were throwing in the high 90’s, and the bullpen seems very solid again. Josh Reddick continued his red-hot hitting, and Khris Davis is hitting home runs at an astonishing rate.

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Now, the A’s are coming home  One month into the season, it appears Boston and Baltimore are going to be the “beasts of the east.” The A’s are all done playing the AL East on the road. Henderson Alvarez is almost ready to make his Oakland debut. Perhaps the cool marine layer will help Graveman’s sinking fastball to sink a little better. A’s fans just need to hope that Sean Manaea can pitch up to his potential – and, heck, maybe Manaea’s haircut was just what the A’s needed to turn their luck around.

Maybe, as Branch Rickey once said, “Luck is the residue of design.”

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