Ross Stripling

Confident A's using Orioles' bounce-back success as inspiration

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OAKLAND -- After defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 on Wednesday to clinch their first series sweep of the 2024 MLB season, the Athletics are feeling good about themselves.

Oakland now has won four consecutive games and six of its last seven, but more importantly has reached the 15-win mark only after 32 games. It took the A's 65 games to reach that win total last season.

Starting pitcher Ross Stripling, who earned his first win with the A’s on Wednesday after starting the season 0-5, described the clubhouse vibe amid a hot stretch.

“Yeah, it's been great,” Stripling said. “After that win, the joke was, ‘The league messed around and let the A’s get hot.’ So, that's -- we we're obviously confident. We feel like we're coming into our own. We played a lot of good baseball. I mean, that road trip was a gauntlet … We [didn’t] start off great in Cleveland, but we finished really strong. [We] split with New York and [took] two out of three from Baltimore, and then coming home and sweeping a beatable team in Pittsburgh … and now, feel like another team [we] would probably match up well with in Miami. 

“So, [we] feel like this is a good part of our schedule to try to take care of some wins and feel like we have the confidence right now to go do it, yeah.”

The A’s are playing well for being one of the younger teams in MLB, and that’s before mentioning the low expectations they face from outsiders after a 112-loss season in 2023. 

But Oakland’s path to success is similar to that of a team it just took a series from.

After highlighting his team’s hot stretch, Stripling discussed the Baltimore Orioles as an inspiration for the young, up-and-coming A’s.

“When you see a team like Baltimore -- and I was in the AL East a few years ago as a [Toronto] Blue Jay -- that was a team that lost [110] games or whatever, and now, two years later [they] win the AL East and are very good again this year,” Stripling emphasized. “You know, we have a locker room that feels like we could be the next version of Baltimore, right? 

“Like as far as developing these guys and the talent we have in this locker room and what could be, you know, to go in and be a good young Baltimore team and say we could be the next ones that are on the up and up like they were. So I think that's kind of what that series solidified more than anything.”

The Orioles finished 52-110 during the 2021 season. They finished 101-61 two seasons later with an ALDS berth, and as of Wednesday own an AL-best 19-10 record.

Baltimore essentially was in the same boat as Oakland was a year ago, as a 50-win team. But due to an emphasis on development, the Orioles recently have reaped the rewards of having an elite farm system over the years.

Top-end talents such as Gunnar Henderson, Colton Cowser and Adley Rutschman continue to make names for themselves, and Jackson Holliday, while struggling during a 15-game big-league experiment, is working for his moment as baseball’s No. 1 prospect. 

Oakland has a long way to go before it rivals Baltimore, but winning expedites any process -- and the A’s just handed it to them at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The A’s have emerging young stars like Mason Miller and Zack Gelof finding their grooves in the majors, young prospects like Darell Hernaiz getting crucial big-league repetitions and others in the minors like Jacob Wilson and Max Muncy grinding for their time. 

While it might not be in Oakland, the A’s time is coming. 

But for now, the baseball team with the best record in the Bay Area needs to focus on the season ahead and continue stacking the wins.

To do so, Oakland must keep swinging away. It’s working thus far, as the A’s bats are heating up and utilizing the long ball for over 50 percent of their runs. Abraham Toro, who went yard Wednesday, believes the feeling is contagious.

"Yeah, it 's something that it's hard to explain, but when you see a lot of guys getting hits in the same inning and you go out there, it kind of gives you that edge and that confidence to keep it going,” Toro said.

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