It’s never over until it’s over. That’s the mantra for the 2018 Oakland Athletics.
The Oakland Athletics are starting to develop a reputation in 2018 as a team that just won’t quit. In 21 one-run games this season, the A’s are 14-7 (.667), lead the Majors in runs scored in the eighth inning (.70) and sit second only behind Atlanta in runs scored in the ninth (.51).
Though the A’s seem to celebrate a different hero on any given night, surely one of the reasons for their late-in-the-game success has been Jed Lowrie’s unrelenting offense. With his 17th go-ahead RBI and 12th game-winning RBI of the year, this time clearing the bases in Tuesday’s win against the San Diego Padres, Lowrie is now 2nd in the American League in the category, Jane Lee reports, and has achieved a highly valuable clutch rating of 1.1 (Baseballreference.com).
Improving in Wednesday’s win against the Padres to a season-high nine games above the .500 mark, Oakland has become an increasingly interesting (and surprising) story in the 2018 season. Another close game win yesterday with the game tied in the ninth, this time it was Stephen Piscotty who lifted the A’s to another win, their 14th win in the last 17 games. They have not been nine games above .500 since the 2014 season when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Kansas City Royals in a dramatic walk-off win which, on that day, did not tilt in their favor.
As Alex Hall writes in his article earlier today for AthleticsNation.com, “No lead is safe against the Comeback Kids, down to the final out.” Noting that the A’s have come back from deficits in the 6th inning or later 11 times this season so far, eight times from the 7th or later, these numbers don’t even include ties late in the game like yesterday’s win at the Coliseum. You can find a breakdown of all 11 comeback wins from Hall here.
The Oakland Athletics’ youth and drive may in fact be what powers the club to exceed most modest predictions for their season. But it’s undoubtedly veteran Jed Lowrie whose late game successes with the bat drives wins home night after night. Still 8.5 games behind the Astros in the AL West and tied in their last ten games with Seattle at 8-2, the A’s are still unlikely playoff contenders in a seriously tough division. But knowing their rallying will to win late in the game, we may do well not to count them out just yet.