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Game Thread #158: A's at Angels

Seeding is the name of the game tonight — with a win and a Boston loss, the A's would move into first place in the American League by virtue of the third tiebreaker: overall intra-division record.

Thearon W. Henderson

With five games left to play, the A's are sitting pretty. Oakland has already clinched its second consecutive AL West Championship, and holds a commanding three-game lead over Detroit for home-field advantage in the ALDS. The A's hold the tiebreaker advantage in that matchup, meaning that even if the Tigers were to storm back and end the season tied with Oakland for the best overall record, the A's would still open the Division Series at home.

So Oakland has its sights set on bigger and better things: the overall top seed in the American League playoffs. On top of earning them home field advantage, that distinction would give the A's the advantage of facing the victor of the AL Wild Card game, slated for October 2. In other words, Oakland would almost certainly be facing a team that had thrown one of its top two starters only 48 hours prior to the beginning of the Division Series, while the A's staff would be rested, fresh, and aligned however Bob Melvin wants it.

AJ Griffin will take the hill tonight for Oakland in his last start of the regular season — strangely, it could be as 14 days until he starts again (assuming that Griffin is indeed the fourth starter on the A's playoff roster), as ALDS Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday, October 8. Griffin is looking to earn his 15th win of the year; right now, his record stands at 14-8, and his ERA is 3.78. It's worth noting that he's been excellent over 26 innings pitched in the month of September, holding his opponents to a slash line of .167/.221/.315.

Opposing Griffin is Anaheim's Jason Vargas, who's been terrible and then average in two appearances this year against the A's. He went 5.2 innings on April 11, allowing 10 hits and three walks en route to an 8-1 loss, but recovered nicely last Wednesday to hold the A's to seven hits and two walks in a game that the Angels would go on to win, 5-4.

First pitch is at 7:05, at which point the Boston-Colorado game that we'll all be keeping an eye on will be well under way.