The adversity hit Tuesday in the form of a four-run Texas rally against Jesse Chavez.
It put the A’s in a 5-2 hole after five innings, and earlier in the season that might have equaled an automatic ‘L’ for this team.
Not the case anymore.
The A’s are feeling pretty good about themselves, and with that belief comes an ability to answer right back when an opponent mounts a rally. After the Rangers scored four times in the fifth to jump ahead, the A’s responded with four runs of their own in the sixth and closed out an 8-6 victory at Globe Life Park.
That’s three wins in a row and seven out of nine that they’ve won. Since sinking to a season-high 16 games under .500 at 14-30, the A’s have gone 18-11. They’re 32-41, the first time they’ve been less than 10 games under .500 since May 12, when they were 13-22.
That’s digging a little deep for optimism, and the A’s are still seven games out of a Wild Card spot. But one thing that stood out Tuesday is something we’re seeing more often – the A’s ability to absorb a tough blow during a game, recover from it and respond.
Last week at San Diego, the A’s led 5-3 before the Padres scored twice in the eighth, including Matt Kemp’s game-tying homer off Evan Scribner. The A’s answered right back in the ninth as Billy Burns worked himself into scoring position and Eric Sogard drove him in with a single. The A’s won 6-5.
[INSTANT REPLAY: A's rally for wild comeback win over Rangers]
Even Sunday, to a lesser degree, the A’s persevered. Tyler Clippard gave up Albert Pujols’ two-run homer that sliced Oakland’s lead to 3-2 in the eighth. But they nailed down that victory (though they were fortunate that Johnny Giavotella’s fly ball in the ninth settled into Sam Fuld’s glove at the wall).
On Tuesday, the A’s immediately struck back from a three-run deficit in the sixth to reclaim a 6-5 lead, added to it with Ben Zobrist’s two-run homer and watched their bullpen salt away the victory.
That it came without Clippard available was even more impressive. He was shut down after throwing a total of 62 pitches in saves Saturday and Sunday. After Chavez lasted just five innings against Texas, it was up to Evan Scribner, Eric O’Flaherty, Fernando Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz to bring things home.
Pomeranz entered in the eighth and walked his first batter, then finished out the final 1 2/3 innings to notch his first career save.
It’s been quite a shift in duties for Pomeranz, who began the season in the rotation and now is being used in late-inning relief.
He went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury in mid-May. With all five starters pitching well when he returned, the lefty was asked to join the bullpen. He pitched in relief for part of 2014 but mainly in long relief.
“I really didn’t know what to expect at first,” Pomeranz said. “They told me I might be used for shorter stints. It took a slight adjustment. I’ve never had a role like this in my career. I’m getting a little more used to it now. You have to be ready when you come in.”
It wasn’t the typical way for the A’s to close out a game. But the path they take to victory doesn’t matter so much right now. The A’s are showing the ability to pull through during the late innings in a way they couldn’t earlier this season.
And that in itself should keep fans from reaching for the remote control whenever it seems the roof starts to cave.