Somehow, someway, the Oakland Athletics are hanging in there despite not even coming close to playing their best baseball.
And often, that can be the hallmark of a darn good team.
The A's are just 14-14 in the second "half" of the season, since the mid-July All-Star break, but they still find themselves well in the hunt for both the American League West division and the AL wild-card chase.
They've survived bad pitching, injuries, poor defense and weak hitting to be in this place, with just 39 games left to play in the regular season. Surely, it's a testament to their strong first-half play (56-39) and the steady hand of the reigning AL Manager of the Year, Bob Melvin.
Today's win over the Cleveland Indians at the O.co Coliseum is a great example: the A's had 2-0 and 3-1 leads before a defensive lapse in the top of the fifth inning enabled the Indians to tie the score at 3-3.
Defense has been a problem for Oakland lately, as they've made 15 errors in their last 17 games now -- after only suffering 61 miscues in the previous 106 contests this season.
But the A's are resilient -- they've demonstrated this repeatedly under Melvin's guidance in the last two years-plus. Struggling outfielder Chris Young broke the stalemate with a solo home run, one of his two hits that raised his average to a mere .197, and soon after, Alberto Callaspo -- who made the key error in the top half of the inning -- also delivered a solo shot.
With that 5-3 lead, Oakland didn't look back on their way to the 7-3 victory that put them closer to Texas in the AL West and Tampa Bay in the wild-card race.
The A's are going to have to keep that resiliency strong right now, as they placed staff ace Bartolo Colon on the disabled list with a groin issue. The All-Star pitcher is 14-5 this season with a 2.97 ERA, but he won't be pitching again for at least a few weeks.
Formerly-banished starter Tommy Milone returned from the minor leagues to start today's game, and he wasn't bad: 4 2/3 innings, six hits and one walks with five strikeouts and only one earned run allowed.
Opening Day starter Brett Anderson also made a rehab start in the minors on Saturday, coming back from his ankle/foot injury suffered earlier this season.
Oakland may need both of them at top form to make it to the playoffs in 2013, and if they want to go deeper in the postseason than they did last year? They'll need the offense, the defense and everything in between to be clicking on all cylinders.
But for now, they can keep winning enough when not at peak performance.