In this dismal 2015 campaign, Athletics fans will take anything they can cheer about. On Sunday, Oakland finally provided starter Jesse Chavez with enough run support to secure their first home series of the year. It came against the A.L. East-leading New York Yankees, who were held to nine runs scored in the series against Oakland’s 19.

The A’s are at +1.0 in run differential this year, and +15.0 at home. That’s better than 14 other teams, yet only two of them have a worse record. Here we could write fourteen ‘correlating’ paragraphs full of ‘advanced statistics’ that may otherwise bore you to death, but the team’s woes this season all come down to this: Bad Luck.

Mathematicians hate hearing that. They hate huge feats of Mankind, and anything molded from weird heroes out of the Human Spirit that cannot other be explained by sheer ‘science’. But any real A’s fan, watching this season or any other, can say that with a stroke of good fortune in this inning or that — a couple of spiritually gratifying swings or pieces of poetry in motion might have helped the A’s to a record that’s closer to first than dead last.  They are truly reflective of countless East Bay workers who similarly have no good fortune to speak of under these unexplainably gloomy skies in California, USA.

I digress. Stephen Vogt has been the saving grace of this team. And we can thank God that Billy Beane won’t be trading him. In 53 games this year, Vogt leads all catchers with a .322 / .411 / .611 slash line. Truly, it’s a shame is breakout year comes during a season in which the A’s have about a 3.9% chance of making the playoffs.

The good news? The team’s won six of nine heading into their series with the Detroit Tigers.

  • The Athletics’ hottest hitter is rookie Billy Burns, who’s batted .440 over the past week. He added a homer, six runs, and two stolen bases to help the A’s win that series versus the Yanks.
  • The A’s (20-33) are still in last place in the AL West race. Both the Angels and Rangers are surging, while the Astros are leveling out, with all three teams above .500 and looking to stay there.
  • Oakland’s pitching situation would be greatly improved if only Fernando Abad could outpitch lefties and the ambidextrous Pat Venditte were brought up, but for now fans will have to sit back and enjoy Sonny Gray, one of the best pitchers in all of Major League Baseball.
  • The A’s brought back Sean Doolittle, but you might’ve missed it when he went straight back on the disabled list.
  • The A’s made four transactions this week. In addition to the lost & found Sean Doolittle, Triple-A Nashville got Angel Castro back, and both LHP Drew Pomeranz and LHP Eric O’Flaherty were put on rehab assignments.
  • Here’s a fun fact: Athletics slugger Stephen Vogt already has career highs in HR and RBI, and is on pace to have the best average of his career. Currently, he’s in second in All-Star balloting for A.L. catchers, so make sure and do your duty.

White Elephant Weekly is edited by Emily Thompson, who translates, writes, and processes archives in Seattle, WA.