Almost a fifth of the way through the season, after 31 contests, the A's have competed in 13 one-run games, more than any other team in the American League. After falling 3-2 to the once and future lowly Devil Rays, and losing the series at home by a two games to one margin, the A's now hold a 6-7 record in those games - not as poor as some have thought, but not outstanding.
(For sheer futility in one run contests, see the Mariners' record of 2-8, or in the other league, Atlanta is 5-11, while the Nationals and Marlins share Seattle's 2-8 mark. Source: ESPN)
My concern isn't that the A's are losing more close games than they should, but instead that the games against teams where they are expected to win are coming in close at all. As I wrote following yesterday's game, "If the team is matching pound for pound with the likes of Tampa Bay, they won't live up to their potential and be expected to challenge the Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox or others for the pennant this year. It's time to warm up."
Luckily, we don't have any teams in our division that are running away with it. We still trail Texas by 1/2 game, and all four AL West teams were on the short end today. Is this a strategy designed through collusion to force a close pennant race? Somehow, I don't think the Rangers, A's or Angels are excited about their record. (Ok, maybe the Rangers...)
I'm still excited about the potential of this team. Individually, we are very hopeful for the overwhelming majority of players on this roster. But they need to start playing like a team and pounding the living daylights out of clubs like the Devil Rays, the same way they smack the Royals around when in Kansas City. It's time to separate from the second division teams, and time to stop seeing one run defeats against no-name teams.
Consider this the game recap. BBG had to unexpectedly scat. ANtics will debut later this evening.