And Boston, please take note. The A's are Close to You.
But if the A's were Carpenters, they also would be advised to keep on hammering those nails.
Still ... Oh it was a beautiful weekend in the neighborhood in the East Bay.
The Mrs. and I had tickets to Saturday’s game, and we had a fine time despite the two-hour rain delay. We found a couple of open seats under the second-deck overhang, and I read about eight pages of A’s game notes while she did Sudoku.
I didn’t go to Sunday’s clincher, called to work at the last minute, but suffice to say there was no REIGN delay.
About 11 days ago, I posted that with the way the A’s were hitting they likely would pull away from the Rangers. At the time, the A’s had just beaten the Twins 18-3 and 8-2 and were heading into that three-game showdown with the Rangers in Arlington with a 3½-game lead.
If the Rangers had swept, it may have been a dogfight. But instead the A’s swept, and they have gotten all A’s since. That has come from a combination of heavy hitting but also with good pitching, particularly from the starters. …
We interrupt this report, with this bulletin. FedEx just delivered our playoff ticket strips. A long, great weekend just got better.
As I was about to say, the A’s are in good position to keep the second seed in the AL over the Tigers. Oakland enjoys a two-game lead and won the season series. So Detroit must pick up three games on the A’s in the final six to wrest away the second seed.
Also, the A’s are only one game behind Boston in the AILC (All-Important Loss Column) for the top seed in the AL.
Boston and the A’s tied their season series 3-3, so the second tiebreaker to decide home-field advantage is divisional records. The Sox are 43-30 (.589) with three games against the East to come at Baltimore, and the A’s are 41-29 (.586) against the West with all six of their games left in the division, three at the Angels and three at Seattle.
Boston has two games at the Colorado Rockies before finishing with three at Camden Yards.
Fact: If the A’s were to win out, the ONLY way Boston could keep the top seed would be to win out itself and thus avoid the tiebreaker. In a scenario where the A’s go 6-0 and Boston 4-1 to create a tie, the A’s would be 47-29 in their division while the Red Sox, even if they swept the Orioles, would be 46-30 in their division.
The A’s are brimming with confidence. The hitters have been bashing, the starting pitchers have been strong, and the back end of the bullpen has been getting a much needed rest. Plus, Ryan Cook was able to pitch an inning Sunday in a low-stress situation.
Yes, the A’s have been ripping the ball more than any team in the majors over the past month or two. Over the past 43 games, they lead the majors in homers (68) by a far margin and in runs (240). They also lead the majors in homers (82) since the All-Star break.
But the bombing figures to abate somewhat in the final six games. Three will be against the Angels, who since Aug. 30 have been 16-7, a record second only to the A’s (18-5) over that span, and three are in Seattle against a team that has been a nemesis (6-10) this season.
The A’s will miss another nemesis, C.J. Wilson, in Anaheim, but in the Wednesday matinee they must deal with Jared Weaver, who’s been very tough on them. And King Felix, yet another nemesis, awaits Friday night in Seattle. But Bartolo Colon is scheduled to face Weaver on Wednesday and Jarrod Parker gets that cat Felix on Friday. What better way for the top two in the rotation to get their last preps for the playoffs?
Plus over the past month the A’s have beaten such aces as Yu Darvish (twice), Justin Verlander and David Price. They also beat the Tigers after getting then AL ERA leader Anibal Sanchez out of the game after 112 pitches in five innings. Plus, the A’s also ran then 19-1 Max Scherzer out a game after just five plus innings, taking a 6-1 lead, before the Tigers rallied against the Oakland bullpen.
Bottom line: If the A’s achieve their playoff-positioning goal, it will likely be because of strong pitching. And that could forge an even stronger bond in them for the coming playoff run.