I'm filling in for Blez tonight because Blez is attending a wedding (presumably to object: "Ladies and gentlemen, this wedding is a sham! I'm having an affair with one of them--whichever one is the transsexual!"). The A's send their big-game pitcher, Barry Zito, to the mound to face the talented but erratic right-hander, Shawn Chacon.
I think tonight's game is probably more important "symbolically" than is it "actually". In reality, one can easily imagine the A's winning tonight yet missing the playoffs, or losing tonight yet still making the playoffs. But 3-4 weeks ago, the A's played two series against the Angels, and in each series the A's essentially said, "We may be neck and neck...but we're better." Then a few days ago, the A's returned to Anaheim and the Angels replied, "We may be neck and neck...but we're better." Now the Yankees come to Oakland and tonight, someone will lay claim to the parting shot, "Hey, we may be neck and neck...but we're better."
Certainly, a lot can happen in 27 games, far more than can happen in one game. The same can be said of outs. Each remaining game is now one out in a 9-inning affair, and the A's philosophy is not to waste outs. Hopefully, Oakland can score first in the 27-out season that the AL West and Wild Card races have become. Tonight's game is not the season, but let's face it: the rest of the A's season will be a lot easier if they win tonight than it will be if they lose.
Today's "fun fact": In the exciting homerun derby among players who go by "Johnny" but can't spell it, Jhonny Peralta leads Jonny Gomes, 20-19.
The starting lineups: