OAKLAND — First things first: Count me out on any and all “momentum at the end of the season can carry over to next year” talk.
Due to roster expansion, games won in September are inherently cheaper than those in any other month of the season. But if Oakland Athletics fans are looking for a silver lining to a lost season, they have one: This young, talented group knows how to win at home.
On Wednesday, they finished their home slate in fitting fashion. They scrapped for runs early, their bullpen gave up the lead and then Mark Canha scored the winning run by sending a pitch over the wall in left field. The 6-5 victory was the 11th A’s walkoff of the season, second most in baseball.
“We’ve had a good thing going here recently,” manager Bob Melvin said, downplaying his team’s 46-35 record at home. “… To pick yourself back up and certainly to do it in dramatic fashion like that — fans always like that — we’ve had walkoffs this year so it’s apropos of what the last game should’ve looked like.”
This year was all about getting the young guys some experience. They did that and to solid results. It’s hard to not be excited about the powerful core of Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Ryon Healy.
Then there’s Franklin Barreto — who hustled a double into three bases in the third, when the A’s scored an early run off a sacrifice fly. And the toughness shown to come back after Chris Hatcher gave up the lead when Robinson Cano re-directed a pitch approximately 422 feet to knot the game up, 5-5.
It’s one game — one measly tick in the win column compared to 85 losses — and it wouldn’t be worth much if the A’s hadn’t shown an impressive amount of fight so many times this season.
The dark days for the green and gold may be numbered. But only if they keep the attitude that’s been apparent ever since the rookies took over.
“We’re having fun out there,” Canha, an elder statesman at 28, said. “… These young guys are good for one [thing], they’re really good players. And they bring a lot of energy, fun and intensity to the ballpark.”
This is the best-case scenario: Having young players who feel invested and happy to be here.
In the clubhouse after the game, several players put on cheap Halloween costumes as the team prepared for their last flight away from the East Bay of the season. It’s a tradition to have fun with the rookies. But to see so many guys subjected to dressing up — like a cowboy (Daniel Mengden), old-timey baseball player (Matt Olson) or ninja (Joe Wendle), among others — it’s clear there’s a joy about this team.
All A’s fans can hope is that it survives the winter.
Contact Examiner Sports Editor Jacob C. Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.