It seems like I only write a blog post after a ridiculously long extra inning game. But how could I not? Yesterday’s 18-inning win over the Yankees completed a series sweep and was probably the biggest win of the year, in a year when there will hopefully be many, many more big wins.
Thank goodness it was a day game – the longest day game in Oakland A’s history – so I could watch it live. Of course, it was after 8 p.m. here when Nate Freiman’s broken bat single scored John Jaso in the bottom of the 18th, so it didn’t feel like much of a day game by then. But it was a win and I don’t really care what time those come.
Freiman got the post-game interview and pie on the field, but it was Jesse Chavez who was the hero of this game. Jesse Chavez – the guy I often forget is even an Oakland A. He is the definition of 25th man. But this 25th man shut down the New York Yankees offense for 5 2/3 innings, getting key strikeouts in bases loaded situations two innings in a row as well. Wins for pitchers are usually a pointless stat, but the W next to Chavez’s name on this box score should have an exclamation point.
This game happened the same day that two different pieces about the A’s hit the blogoshpere. One was an ESPN Insider piece called “Be Wary of the A’s,” and the other was on Fangraphs, titled “The Hidden Juggernaut in Oakland.”
The ESPN article, which I couldn’t read in its entirety since I don’t waste my money on Insider, had the sub-headline, “Oakland’s record is misleading due to number of wins against bad teams,” so you can imagine what it had to say – 9-0 against the Astros, etc.
The Fangraphs article doesn’t just use the sample size of the 2013. It goes back to June 13 of last year, and notes that the A’s are the best team in baseball over the last calendar year with record of 108-60. Sure, they’re not going to sustain the .800 ball they’ve been playing for the past month, but this 108 wins is not a small sample size of good baseball. This is a full year.
Much has been made in the light of last season’s magical run about Bob Melvin and the platooning. And I think this year’s team is better than last year’s because of the depth and versatility. Most teams aren’t going to have Chris Youngs and Seth Smiths to turn to when the entire starting outfield lands on the DL. Free agent signed to be the starter at shortstop hasn’t played a day in the big leagues and it’s mid June? No problem – we’ve got Jed Lowrie.
This is a team that is built to sustain itself over the course of a long season and hopefully into the postseason, and it’s just getting started. Go A’s!!