11 straight for A's after unreal walk-off win

A's plate 3 runs on back-to-back errors, win without recording a hit in extras

April 22nd, 2021

OAKLAND -- The A’s entered the bottom of the 10th trailing by two runs. They did not record a hit in the inning. Yet when the dust settled, they came away victorious.

That’s just the way things go sometimes when you’re the hottest team in baseball.

A wild extra-inning contest between the A’s and Twins that featured eight lead changes, a combined 25 runs on 31 hits -- including seven homers -- was ultimately decided by back-to-back errors.

After Byron Buxton hit a two-run homer off Lou Trivino in the top of the 10th inning, the A’s loaded the bases in the bottom half with a pair of two-out walks against Twins closer Alex Colomé. Mark Canha reached base on a would-be game-ending ground ball that was mishandled by second baseman Travis Blankenhorn. One batter later, Ramón Laureano’s chopper picked up by Luis Arraez at third was airmailed into the Coliseum’s visiting bullpen, producing an eruption from the A’s dugout as the game-winning runs crossed home plate for an improbable 13-12 walk-off victory.

The win to cap a three-game sweep and extend Oakland’s Major League-best winning streak to 11 games not only ended in thrilling fashion, it was historic. According to STATS, the A’s became the first team in Major League history to follow an 0-6 start to the season by winning 11 straight games at any point in that same season. And they’ve done it all in the month of April.

Showing up to his postgame media session with barely any voice left due to the exhilarating events that had just taken place, A’s manager Bob Melvin spoke fondly of the spirit his club has shown throughout this roller coaster of a first month.

“I’m trying to get through this,” Melvin said. “Talk about a complete flip of the script. Not only did we get [beaten] the first six games, we got trounced. To come back and put together this type of run, it shows the fight of this team. They never got down. Just as dramatic as those games were, is what’s going on right now.”

It’s been quite a dramatic turnaround in such a short amount of time. On the morning of April 9, the A’s entered play with the worst record in the Majors at 1-7 and were outscored, 59-19, over that stretch. Since then, they’ve won 11 in a row and have outscored opponents, 71-33. Their record, now 12-7, is the second best in the American League, just percentage points behind the Red Sox.

“We’re doing some good things right now. There’s a ‘Never say die’ attitude,” Melvin said. “When you’re playing the way we are, you always feel pretty good about [a late comeback]. It never felt like we were out of the game, even though there were several times during the middle of it where we just couldn’t stop them.”

Particularly over the last three seasons in which the A’s have reached the playoffs, they’ve developed a knack for producing some late-inning magic at the Coliseum. That quality has once again shown up during this hot stretch, with Wednesday’s game marking the second time the A’s have won on a walk-off error in the last four days.

But don’t confuse those late-inning breaks the A’s have caught as just plain luck. Their recent comeback efforts have been made possible by a relentless attack on offense.

On Wednesday, it started early with a power surge that featured three A’s homers, including two by Matt Olson in his first two at-bats against 2020 AL Cy Young runner-up Kenta Maeda. Later came the situational hitting, with Matt Chapman bringing home the game-tying run on a sacrifice fly in the ninth. Finishing it off was Laureano, who, despite going hitless in five at-bats, was able to create the game-winning effort with his all-out hustle down the first-base line to hurry the throw from Arraez in the 10th.

“He’s a fighter,” Melvin said of Laureano. “He really epitomizes the fight we have here. He had no hits over the course of this game and [ended] up with the biggest at-bat.”

The comparisons to the 2002 “Moneyball” A’s that won 20 in a row will surely begin to materialize as the A’s head into Thursday’s off-day. This 11-game streak matches the club’s longest since that famous stretch, which ended up having a movie produced about it.

As that 2002 streak began to grow into the double digits, players continued to grow their confidence in winning on any given day, regardless of the situation. Based on Laureano’s observations entering the 10th, these A’s appear to be feeling the same way.

Laureano said he sensed the A’s would win the game as he watched from the on-deck circle as Canha reached on an error. That’s why he wasn’t even trying to hit the ball hard against Colomé. He just wanted to make contact.

“I’ve been predicting things and they’ve been happening,” Laureano said. “You just smell when you’re going to win. The way we act all the time, we know we’re going to win.

“Once the Baseball Gods happened, I knew we were going to win.”