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"Soft" And "Hard" Schedules: Two Avenues To The Playoffs

Cliff Pennington ponders which Escobar might replace him.
Cliff Pennington ponders which Escobar might replace him.

The A's are beginning a "soft" portion of the schedule, with 9 games against KC, CLE, and MIN. The current score: 0-1 and counting. However, they waltzed through July at 19-5 despite matching up against powerhouses like TEX and NYY, finishing with BAL and TB. September looks like a bear, with a fierce road trip through DET, NYY, and TEX, following series against LAA and BAL.

One way to get to the playoffs is to beat up on the bad teams and just hold your own against the better ones. Another way is to rise to the occasion and handle the good teams, even if you "regress to the level of the opponent" and muddle your way through the sludge.

So far, the A's have taken the latter path, beating up on the Yankees, winning the series at Baltimore, more than holding their own against Texas, but failing to take advantage of a depleted Blue Jays team and now starting their "soft 9 games" with a loss.

Truth is, if the A's can sustain it they're going about it the better way. If you have to thrive in one arena and falter in another, better to beat the good teams. Why? Because they're the teams you're fighting with for those playoff spots. If the A's can win the series in Detroit, at LAA, at Tampa Bay, at home against LAA and Baltimore, it will go a long way to helping them beat out those teams for a wild card spot.

Of course losing to the Royals doesn't help you beat the Orioles. The games in front of the A's right now are the soft ones and they would do really well to win them. But there are many avenues to the playoffs, just as there are many avenues to missing the playoffs. Likely September, not August, will tell the story for the A's.