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AL West check-in: Surprising Oakland A’s are winning again

May 9, 2024, 5:41 PM | Updated: 5:42 pm

Oakland A's...

Tyler Soderstrom (21) of the Oakland A's is congratulated for his home run during a 2024 game. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Treehouse entertainment space way out in left-center field bustled between games of a doubleheader as Oakland A’s fans relished a chance to get out of the sun on a cloudless, spectacular day in the Bay Area, for some ping-pong or to grab a cold drink.

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They are few but mighty at the moment, small crowds of longtime diehards determined to cheer their beloved A’s this year before they relocate to Sacramento for the next three seasons and, later, Las Vegas.

Those who are making an effort to come to the Coliseum are seeing more winning baseball, too. The A’s lost 112 games last season and 102 the year before that, and now are 18-21 heading into Friday’s weekend series at the Seattle Mariners.

It’s a promising start for a club projected for last place that began the season 1-7. They didn’t win their 18th game in 2023 until June 12.

“Guys are confident,” pitcher Alex Wood said. “I think down to each guy, there’s just really, I think they were sick of going through what they went through last year. There’s really a strong will to go out there and play well and try and win every night and you can see it in every guy out there. And I think the cool thing about this group is we’re a super young group but a lot of these guys have been together for a while.”

MLB Standings

Even if not many fans are getting to see this group come together and finally reap the rewards.

Monday’s series opener against Texas drew a season-low 2,895, then Tuesday’s announced crowd was 3,965 and another 8,230 showed up Wednesday to give the A’s an average of 6,222 through 22 home dates. Last year, the A’s averaged 10,276 per game, but they always draw better during the summer months once kids are out of school, while April is always the lowest month.

Manager Mark Kotsay is quick to praise his players for their focus on what they can control on the field and not all the other stuff, like attendance.

“There’s just no quit in this group,” he said.

Longtime friends Diego Valdez, Aubrey Porter and John Solis have for years attended the home opener, and now they are trying to get to as many games as possible while they can.

“It’s kind of sad for me, honestly,” said Porter, a 43-year-old from San Jose. “I’ve been going to games since I was a kid. I was here when Rickey Henderson broke the (stolen base) record. We used to catch the BART when I lived in Fremont and my dad used to drive me to games here whether I wanted to go or not, and I started loving it after that. It’s been one of those things I’m really sad they’re going away.”

Valdez made it to his first game Wednesday since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

These fans understand why the stands are empty. They understand the heartbreak and the hurt.

“It’s just kind of frustrating, the A’s leaving to Vegas, going to Sacramento next year,” the 49-year-old Valdez said. “We lost the Warriors, the Raiders, so I’m trying to come to at least three or four or five more games this year before they leave.”

Porter and Valdez are dreaming big, as in playoffs or — dare they say it — a World Series title.

“That would be awesome,” Valdez said.

“That would be the best thing ever,” Porter said. “Incredible.”

Rona Brooks Morris and younger brother Adam have been coming to midweek games together for nearly a decade — even when Morris was pregnant with son, Colin. Both doctors, they have some flexibility.

“It’s our sibling bonding time, and it’s been an amazing experience. I’ve learned a lot,” Morris said, noting of the early 2024 success: “It’s very exciting because one of my first memories of coming to these games was in 2012 with Colin in my belly.”

They were here together with late father Irv in 2012 when the A’s clinched the division on the final day of the season — Game 162 — against Texas when Josh Hamilton dropped the ball in shallow center field on a high popup by Yoenis Cespedes.

Texas Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien appreciates his former club’s success so far and has already thought about how his next trip to the Coliseum in late September will likely be his last — the final three-game home series for the A’s.

“It’s a place where my family gets to come watch me play, so we’ll have to figure it out after this,” said Semien, who grew up in nearby Albany and went to college at the University of California-Berkeley. “I’ve played a lot of baseball in the place and worked out here in the offseason. It doesn’t feel right, but like I always say, business is business.”

One special fan plans to be around the Coliseum as much as possible until that last day: Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.

He has become nostalgic — and even somewhat sad — about the team’s impending departure.

“More than anything, I wanted to feel it,” Eckersley said. “Before I said, ‘Aaaw, they’ll be around three more years.’ Well they’re not, and now I feel like there’s a need to want to say goodbye to it. Really. This was a huge part of my life and I’m from the Bay Area and this place has been here since 1968. I mean wow! So I just want to experience it and send it off.”

More MLB news

Rost: Mariners can’t waste World Series-caliber pitching
• Why Mariners should keep Josh Rojas in leadoff spot
AL West Check-In: Rangers trade to re-acquire World Series player

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