Throughout the entire 162 game season, the Oakland Athletics had sole possession of first place once. But they timed it up perfectly as was the last day of the season. The A’s stunned the Texas Rangers and the baseball world when they swept Texas in the final three games of the season to overtake them for the AL West crown. They did so coming back from a deficit of five games with nine to play, which has never been done in the history of baseball. And game 162 was incredible.
You all saw the highlights: the early Texas lead, Coco’s game tying double, Hamilton’s blunder, all the bullpen magic, the Norris off-balanced homer. What an amazing game.
As impressive though, was the crowd. I’ve been to playoff games, opening nights, bobble-head days, and firework nights. I was there during the 20-game streak and I’ve been there when the A’s have honored past greats both players and teams.
I’ve never, NEVER scene the Coliseum crowd quite like that. You’ll sometimes hear people throw out terms like “tenth player on the field” in reference to the home field crowd. I’ve never really given that much thought until that Wednesday game. It was just so incredible.
It was a mere sellout to other teams on the outside looking in. Hell, it might have been that way to Lew Wolff. But to the fans, the A’s players, and I imagine the Rangers players, it was so much more than that.
A’s fans were so loud and so raucous it made the Coliseum shake. They weren’t just cheering for the A’s or shouting at the Rangers. It was like a collective release from all angst surrounding the team over the past five or so years. All the new stadium drama washed away for four redeeming hours.
The Oakland A’s and their attendance woes have been the laughing stock of baseball since Commissioner Bud Selig created “the committee” seemingly thousands of years ago. No one is laughing now.
Tickets for the playoffs are selling out. If that place is as intense as it was Wednesday, and I suspect it will be for the remainder of this postseason, the A’s will have a rare home-field advantage, one that can rival any in baseball.
Now if only they can take one in Detroit.
As fun as it was, the job isn’t done yet. For this season only, because the second wildcard was added after the schedule already came out, the team with the home-field advantage (the A’s) will actually have to start on the road (Detroit) for the division series. No, it isn’t fair but we knew this from the beginning of the season. This is the first time I’m bringing it up because I honestly thought this would have nothing to do with the A’s.
But alas, we are here and our reward for winning the AL West is to face Justin Verlander in Detroit for game one.
Parker will go for the A’s. There is really no pitcher alive that I would take over Verlander, but Parker has been pitching brilliantly lately. So I will say that our best shot to beat the Tigers in game one will be with Parker on the mound. If we can just take one in Detroit, I’m very confident the A’s can take two of three back at home, especially with the Coliseum bouncing the way it was on Wednesday.
Now, the rosters don’t officially have to be announced until tomorrow (Saturday) but it looks like it will be the same as the end of the season. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, those not with the team in Detroit include Colin Cowgil and Jemile Weeks (both pinch running options) and Daric Barton. That tells me that Chris Carter and Adam Rosales will be the backup infielders. This surprises me a little because Rosales is usually used against lefthanders and Detroit has no lefthanders in their playoff rotation and only one by my count in the bullpen. I thought they might go with Weeks this round (each round teams can adjust their rosters) for some late inning speed, but I guess they prefer Rosales’ versatility. Weeks certainly hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt.
As far as pitchers go, the A’s are operating under the belief that Anderson will be able to go for game three in Oakland. Like I said, that could change between now and tomorrow, but as of now, Dan Strailey would be the odd man out. He’ll be in Phoenix at the A’s complex keeping his arm ready in case he is needed down the line.
Susan Slusser is also reporting that the A’s prefer to take an extra reliever (the spot opened up due to using only 4 starters rather than five) to an extra bench player. Manager Bob Melvin does love his match-ups.
The A’s have an extremely tough road ahead of them. Detroit was simply not as good as the A’s during the year; the A’s have deeper pitching and a deeper lineup, which bodes well for the regular season. However, Detroit has two Cy Young candidates at the front of their rotation and Miguel Cabrera batting third had a decent year finishing with the first triple crown in 45 years. This bodes well for the Tigers a short series. So while the A’s should and will fear no team, it will be difficult.
It will come down to execution and pitching. Detroit isn’t the best defensive team, while the A’s can be. They certainly have the ability to be one of the best defensive teams but then, there are so many youngsters, you never know. Offensively, they literally have to battle with every pitch. I know it’s cliché but you have to try to get their starters out of the game as quick as possible. This series could very well come down to the bullpen, and if it does, I give the A’s the slight edge.The last week of the season made me sure about one thing, a lead after the sixth with Doolittle, Cook and Balfour, and I like our chances.
I finished my last post with this Robert Frost quote which seemed fitting, and I shall continue until it seems otherwise: “Miles to go before I sleep.” LET’S GO OAKLAND!
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.