OAKLAND -- The A's spent much of June and July building up an addiction to winning, and they seem back in the habit again.
With a 9-4 win over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night, the A's have put together a streak of six or more games with five or more wins for the fourth time in the past 10 weeks. Taken individually, those aren't big streaks, but when put in combination, they lead to a major-league-best 72-44 record.
After having hit something of a dry spell against the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals, Oakland has won five of its past six to get to a season-best 28 games over .500. From May 30-June 6, the A's went 6-1. From June 14-21, the record was 7-1. From July 3-8, it was a perfect 6-0. Those are the building blocks of a monster season.
"Anytime you can put a bunch of wins together like that, it's a real positive,'' Derek Norris said. The A's catcher had two bases-loaded walks and a three-run homer to finish with five RBIs in support of his batterymate, Jeff Samardzija, who improved to 3-1 with the A's.
"When you are doing that, you feel better at the plate, you feel better on the mound, you feel better in the field,'' Norris said of these runs the A's seem to go on every few weeks. "When you are on a winning club, you want to play harder. You want to play better, because you love that feeling of winning.
"It's almost like an addiction. Whenever you get a good taste of it, you don't want to go back because all of us have been on a team in our career that's a losing team, and that's one of the worst things in the entire world. When you play on a ballclub that puts together consecutive wins in a row, you never want to go back. So you play harder for your teammates, you play harder for each other, and you pick each other up. And I think that's a big key why we're so successful.''
Or maybe it's the opossum that showed up in the Coliseum for the second consecutive Samardzija start.
"I saw him. He likes me. I have to go find this guy,'' Samardzija said. "He's pretty sweet, man. He knows what he's doing. He shows up at the right times, too, at the down times of the game. I think it's up to me to name him because it's twice that I've had him.
"I don't want to shortchange him and give him a bum name. I have to make sure it's something cool. I need to do something. He likes me. I don't know if it's good if it's a possum that likes you, but as long as we keep winning ballgames, he can show up as much as he wants.''
If the Twins keep showing up, that might be all it takes to keep Oakland on a roll. The A's have won 12 consecutive games against the Twins dating to last season. Minnesota has some good young talent, but it's mostly unproven, and the proving doesn't come easily.
Starter Trevor May got his major league debut Saturday, and while he has good credentials, his control was all over the place. He walked seven in two innings, helping stake the A's to a 4-1 lead, twice issuing a walk to Norris with the bases loaded and getting stung by a bases-loaded single from Josh Donaldson.
"When you get a new pitcher, the potential is there for that,'' A's manager Bob Melvin said "Couple that with a full house in this park, and it can make you a little nervous (dealing with) our fans when they get going. But we did a good job making him work.''
(Phil Hughes 11-8)
at A's (Jason Hammel 9-9), 1:05 p.m. CSNCA
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