Sunday, October 24News That Matters

Oakland A’s Boom and Bust Their Way to First Place

The A’s, who led the A.L. in homers and steals through Wednesday, will start a seven-game road trip in Baltimore on Friday. They left Oakland on a high: After shutting out the Twins in both games of a doubleheader on Tuesday, they survived a 13-12 thriller on Wednesday by scoring the tying and go-ahead runs with two outs in the 10th inning on a throwing error by Minnesota third baseman Luis Arraez.

It was the first time since 2009 that the A’s had won while allowing 12 runs in a game. But to hear the players tell it, the outcome was never in doubt.

“It just smells like you’re going to win,” center fielder Ramon Laureano said.

Go on.

“A win smells like — just like the Bay Area wind, you know? Like we’re just going to win,” he said. “You just smell it. We joke around all the time. After we had an hour half-inning, we joke around and we’re like, ‘Yeah, we’re pretty loose still.’”

The A’s had reason to be confident, even before their long winning streak. They cleared a stubborn obstacle last fall, advancing in the postseason for the first time since 2006 by taking a first-round series from the Chicago White Sox.

They lost a division series to the Houston Astros, three games to one, but retained a talented core led by Matt Olson and Matt Chapman, the Gold Glove sluggers at the corner infield spots, and a solid rotation of Sean Manaea, Chris Bassitt, Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo and Mike Fiers.

A newcomer was especially familiar to the A’s: second baseman Jed Lowrie, who returned for his third stint in Oakland, on a minor-league contract that guaranteed him $1.5 million for making the roster. Lowrie, 37, was an All-Star for the A’s in 2018, then signed a two-year, $20 million contract with the Mets that quickly became notorious.