Folks, we only have three more games left in this weird, wild season. Can you believe it? And with only one series against the Texas Rangers left, the Oakland Athletics are sitting in a pretty solid spot and control their own destiny.
Their magic number is down to one, which means that if they win just one game out of the final three then Oakland would be in the playoffs. Or if both the Angels and the Rays lose just one game the A’s would be in the playoffs. But, if the A’s were to be swept and either the Rays or the Angels won their final three, then they would have to play each other in a tie-breaker game to see who plays in the wild card “play-in” game.
Confused yet? Well apart from that, there are roughly 20 thousand different scenarios, give or take, that could still take shape in these final three games and all will affect the American League playoff picture.
The Yankees and Orioles are dead even and both are just one game up on the A’s. One of those two teams will win the AL East and the other will occupy one of the wildcard spots as both have clinched a playoff birth already. Ideally, one of those two teams will take a few losses in the next couple of days so that the A’s would have home field advantage for said wildcard play-in game, should the A’s have to play it.
The scenario I’m focusing on most right now revolves around the fact that the A’s are only two games behind Texas for the AL West division title. That means that if the A’s can manage a sweep of the Rangers this week (a tall order to be sure) then they would win the division crown and quite possibly own the best record in the AL. Then the A’s would leap frog that wildcard game entirely and move directly to the division series. Almost like a bye in football.
That would certainly be the preferred outcome not only because it takes away the coin-flip of a game that the wildcard teams must play, but also because I have tickets to Wednesday’s game, (and I’m trying to go Tuesday too) which is the last game of the year. So if the A’s are in position to win the West, it will be a hell of a lot more fun for game 162. Of course on the other hand, if Oakland hasn’t clinched yet it will be one of the more nerve wracking days of my life.
The starters for the first game of the final series will be Martin Perez for Texas and Jarrod Parker for Oakland. Perez didn’t make it out of the second inning against the A’s last week (though to be fair, much of that was due to defensive mistakes by Josh Hamilton) and Parker is turning into an Ace right before our eyes this year. So, you could say the match up favors the A’s on Monday night.
But I’d really like to clinch with this game. Travis Blackley starts Tuesday night and even though he’s far exceeded my expectations this year, the Rangers treated him like batting practice when last they faced four days ago. Then of course we would head into the last day of the year without having secured a playoff spot yet. Ugh. You knew this would come down to the wire.
Regardless of what happens, this season has been one of my favorites of all time to watch and I commend everyone involved with the Oakland Athletics. Keep it up! The job is not done yet. “Miles to go before I sleep.”
Weekend Highlights: I don’t usually like to focus on game recaps or highlights because there are plenty of those all over the place, but this weekend really stood out. First, we saw a glimpse of just about everything Yoenis Cespedes can do on a baseball field, which is everything. A’s fans have seen it all year, but as the spotlight focuses in on the A’s, the more casual fans get to see the many talents of Cespedes.
Mike Trout is probably going to go down as the best player we’ve seen in 20 years, maybe ever. But if he weren’t in the picture, Cespedes would be the talk of the town; he’s a true five-tool talent. By that I mean he can hit, hit for power, plays superb defense, has speed and has arm strength. This weekend, He made a phenomenal diving catch, a couple of very impressive throws, and sprayed the ball all over the yard including three extra base hits, one of which was a go-ahead homer in the eighth on Sunday. Finally, he showed off his exceptional speed by scoring on a solid single… FROM FIRST BASE! The guy is amazing.
Then there was the continuous barrage of amazing late-inning home runs. Josh Donaldson’s game tying two-run job in the ninth on Saturday, followed by Brandon Moss’ walk-off in the tenth. Cespedes’ afore-mentioned blast, Josh Reddick’s two-run shot that followed. Not to mention Friday night’s blowout. This team can do anything so get out there and support them! I can all but guarantee you will see something special.
Anderson on the mend: Brett Anderson pitched a bullpen session for the first time since he suffered that oblique strain a couple of weeks ago. The whole time, he’s been saying he’s aiming to come back for the playoffs. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that it’s possible, though it seems unlikely, he could be ready for the wild card game on Friday but I’m sure the A’s are hoping for that division victory so that they could rest Anderson for a couple more days.
Desperate time call for desperate measures, though. Anderson is clearly the A’s best pitcher; if he is cleared to pitch in that play-in game, he’ll pitch in the play-in game. Here’s hoping.
About the Author
Written by Josh Muller
My name is Josh Muller. I was born and raised in Oakland, California and currently live in San Francisco. I watch sports religiously and organize my calender year to coincide with baseball season. I'm a diehard A's and Warriors fan, love talking sports all day and believe that the words "Opening Day" are the two greatest in the English language.