On the diamond A’s feel pressure; on the court Warriors apply it 

OAKLAND—Chris Bassitt was referring to the Astros. “They’re probably the best at keeping pressure on you, from pitch one to whatever.” Change sports, as do many of us did at game’s end, and he could have been talking basketball, and the Warriors.

  That’s an attribute of the best teams, the best individuals. They never allow you to relax, never allow you to believe; Tiger Woods in his day, Roger Federer to this day. The Patriots. The Warriors.

   No matter the situation, whether it’s in their favor or against them, they’re always hovering, always keeping the pressure on.

  Sunday, at the stadium renamed the Ring Central Coliseum, the Astros, World Series champions in 2017,  National League Championship Series competitors in 2018, never let up on the Athletics, and eventually, finally, perhaps inevitably, the ‘Stros won, 6-4 in 12 innings.

   Then, with the players gone, with the crowd of 23,144 gone, with the gulls swooping, squawking  and alighting as they do at major Bay Area sporting sites when the event is done, the Warriors-Raptors telecast went up on the big scoreboard screens, if only for the Coliseum grounds crew, repairing the field.

  The Warriors were down. Not to worry. As the Astros in baseball, the Dubs are the best in basketball at keeping the pressure on. That 18-0 start of the third quarter? Was anyone surprised? Make that was anyone surprised who knows the Warriors?

 And after getting swept in a three-game series to close a home stand that collapsed with five consecutive losses, is anyone surprised who knows the A’s?

  They are almost there but not quite, good enough to make one believe but not good enough to close the deal. As basketball people might advise that’s very much like the Raptors.

   “Frustrating, obviously,” That was the comment by A’s manager Bob Melvin. You presume Nick Nurse, the Raptors’ coach, was thinking the same.

   The team does so much right, but it’s not enough. The other team is just better.

  “We were on a nice little roll,” said Melvin, about a10-game stretch without a defeat. “We had momentum. Then we lose a couple. Then three more. We’ve got to find a way to be more consistent.”

  Basically a way to get runners on .So when the A’s hit home runs, and they had four Sunday, all solo shots, they need to score in bunches to   keep the pressure on.

   There’s a parallel between the Astros and the Warriors. Houston is so loaded, that even missing Jose Altuve, the 2017 American League MVP; Carlos Correa and George Springer, all injured, the ‘Stros have won six of seven and with the Twins (the Twins?) share the best record in the AL.

  Depth, or as they say around the Warriors, “Strength in Numbers.” No Kevin Durant? At times no Andre Iguodala? At times no DeMarcus Cousins.  Maybe after the hamstring injury, no Klay Thompson? Not  exactly no sweat, but rather no letdown. 

   Bassitt, the A’s starter, pitched six innings, allowed six hits and three runs. And only one walk, Tony Kemp in the fifth.  Then came two hits and a Marcus Semien error, and Houston had two runs,

  “You walk guys in this lineup,” Bassitt said about Houston, “and you’re screwed. Look at who they’re missing, and you still got to worry about the walks and the speed. You have to make them earn every single run. Unfortunately my walking Kemp started them running.”

  That’s what happens when you face a top team, a team with few weaknesses, a team that rarely makes mistakes, a team like the Astros. Or the Warriors.

  The A’s were scheduled to be in the air flying to southern California when the Warriors were finishing up against Toronto. Maybe they saw the end—the flight is only an hour, as you know; there’s TV on many planes. For sure soon enough they knew the result.

    The Warriors applied pressure. The A’s simply felt it. The Warriors won.  The A’s did not win.

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