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Cohn: A's don't have a star; they're a team

  • Oakland Athletics pitching coach Curt Young, left, and catcher Stephen Vogt, center, speak with Jarrod Parker in the first inning on Sunday. (BEN MARGOT/Associated Press)

OAKLAND — Certain life mysteries are impossible to explain. Like what's on the other side of the universe? How does the Holy Trinity work? Why is New York pizza so much better than the California stuff?

But the biggest life mystery of all concerns the Oakland A's. Why is this team, a group with no superstar, a bargain bunch without the best players in the majors, running away from the AL West? And why, in short, are the A's one of the elite outfits in baseball?

You got me.

It's not like they can hit. Lately, Josh Donaldson is pathetic — he struck out three times in Sunday's 10-6 win over the fallen Los Angeles Angels, and he hasn't gotten a base hit since the medieval period.

And Josh Reddick has been beyond pathetic.

And the pitching is good but not always great. Starter Jarrod Parker gave up five runs in the first two innings and that meant the A's started the day spotting the Angels a five-run lead, an unusual strategy.

But the A's overcame the Angels, chased them down, broke their spirit. You could see it happen, the Angels' outfielders losing balls in the sun, the outfielders rolling on the grass, the outfielders running into each other like junk cars in a demolition derby.

The A's were a half game behind the then division-leading Texas Rangers on July 2, and now they are six up on the Rangers. They are a gargantuan 19 games over .500.

It's mystifying.

Sure, you could give reasons. The A's are scrappy — whatever “scrappy” means. They are confident and confidence is always good. And if you want to be technical about things, they draw walks and make pitchers work.

That all sounds so bland, so vague. In the interest of clarity — if clarity is possible — let's turn to manager Bob Melvin and hear what he said in his postgame news conference: “I didn't for one minute think that we were down 5-0 and we were not going to come back and do something. It's tough to come back from a five-run lead, but these guys are pretty relentless. I, at least, expected some kind of a push. I got more than you could ever hope for.”

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