WINS THAT GALVANIZE A TEAM

 

Gross.jpg

        The rain we dodged during
the game last night at Camden Yards is now pounding our charter plane as we get
ready to take off for Detroit.  As I peer out the window from Row 4, Seat A,
I become a little reflective in reliving the rather miraculous five-run rally
we mounted in the seventh inning against the Orioles which snatched victory
from the jaws of defeat.  Yes, it was
only one win, but I’ve learned over the years that this is the type of stirring
comeback that can galvanize a team. 

 

Ron Romanick,
our personable bullpen coach, said as much while we were chatting on the bus to
the airport.  “These are the kind of games
that can make a team closer,” he said, looking a little wilted from the Maryland humidity. Our
guys knew this was a big opening series to the road trip, with Detroit
and Boston
looming, it was critical that we won this series.  With the team trailing 5-2 after seven
innings in the rubber match tonight, the script wasn’t exactly going as
planned. 

 

There
had been some good signs surface in the game, though, as two hitting droughts came
to a merciful end. 
Gabe Gross snapped a personal 52-game homerless streak with a
two-run bomb to straight away center field and
Mark Ellis drilled a sharp single to center to halt a 0-for-16
dry spell.  Yet, things turned south in the
seventh when
Tyson Ross was summoned in relief
of
Gio
Gonzalez
.  Ross, who has been a revelation in his rookie
campaign, hit the inevitable skid that affects every reliever at some point
during the season; he faced four batters and all reached base. 

 

Kouz.jpg

He
might have been the goat of the game, had it not been for his A’s teammates who
picked him up by puncturing the Orioles’ bubble in the eighth with a five-run
explosion keyed by
Kevin Kouzmanoff’s bases-loaded
double.  Again, it was a team win, and beyond
Gross, Ellis and Kouz,
Adam Rosales
continued to shine in his “Where’s Waldo” utility role, making some difficult
plays at shortstop. 
Kurt Suzuki gunned out a would-be base stealer and then
contributed an infield single just prior to Kouzmanoff’s 3-RBI blast.  The bullpen stalwarts,
Craig Breslow and closer Andrew Bailey
made like old times, preserving the win with some stifling relief pitching in
the final two innings.  

 

So
on the short term, we depart for a challenging four-game set in the Motor City,
having won five of our last six and perched two games over the .500 mark.  But on the long term, this is the kind of
dramatic win that could propel us to better times ahead.  If we’re still in the playoff hunt come
September–certainly a worthy goal for this still young and developing team–I
suspect we will look back to May 27 and the night we dodged thunderstorms and certain
defeat by coming off the deck to win like champions.  Perhaps it was an early sign that the tide is
turning for Oakland
A’s baseball and our young boys are becoming men.  Of course, as the old baseball adage goes, I
can’t get too high after wins or too low after losses.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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