If Oakland wins today, the A's and Royals will have played each other in the culmination of two 20-game streaks in the span of three years, proving that baseball is nothing if not unpredictable.
Oakland needs the victory today, because some guys wearing Shawn Chacon and Jaret Wright masks have decided to pitch like aces this week for the Yankees, while Ervin Santana approached the Red Sox today as if he thought his first name was Johan. The upshot is that an A's loss would drop them into a Wild Card tie, in the loss column, with the Yankees, while pushing them 2.5 games behind the resilient Angels. As of this writing, Cleveland and Minnesota are also winning, each by two runs, so the A's may face a second straight day of just trying to maintain the status quo.
Mike Wood, a 10th round pick of the A's in 2001, is opposed by Barry Zito. Wood shut the A's down, allowing just one run in 6 innings, in winning his only career start against Oakland. If the A's are going to knock Wood, they will likely do it while he is working off the stretch. For his career, opposing batters hit a modest .258 with the bases empty off of Wood, but crank it up to .335 with runners on.
Tonight's starting lineups: