Rickey Henderson Field couldn’t contain Oakland nor Baltimore over the four-game weekend series, as the two ball clubs alternated overpowering, homer-happy performances from each of the offenses. Each game that was played, close or not, had an air of excitement surrounding it, for even though the A’s have long been out of the playoff chase, pretty much all of their competition is fighting tooth and nail for a chance to play baseball in October and November, giving each game just the smallest hint of a playoff vibe. Watching the newest A’s take on teams that are desperate, or pulling all the stops, in order to win with a calm and collected energy that was noticeably missing from the A’s of the first half, has allowed the A’s to become fun and interesting to watch once more.
- Houston: 72-45
- Anaheim: 61-58
- Seattle: 59-60
- Texas: 56-60
- Oakland: 52-66
The Angels have won six consecutive games to force themselves comfortably above the break-even point and now occupy the second wild card spot. At the same time, Seattle has lost four consecutive games after procuring the second wild card spot for one day.
The Royals are the latest team the A’s will be seeking to hinder in their long playoff push. For much of the beginning of the season, when the A’s and Royals faced each other for the first time, Kansas City was mired in an awful slump, where the entire offense couldn’t buy a hit and the pitching staff couldn’t make up for the lack of runs being scored. It looked as though the Royals’ playoff window had slammed shut a season too early, and the rebuild had to start again. But as the weather got warmer, so did Kansas City’s bats, and the team raced from the bottom of a weak AL Central to near the top of the division, priming for another improbable second half surge.
However, Kansas City lost nine of eleven games before finally catching a couple breaks against the gutted White Sox prior to this series, and once again find themselves needing to climb their way up the standings. Key players, like steadfast catcher Salvador Perez and recent trade acquisition and former A’s starter Trevor Cahill, got injured. Key middle of the order hitters stopped hitting again, and the famed elite Kansas City bullpen was bleeding runs. The team isn’t out of the playoff chase, but they have made things much more difficult on themselves lately. But if any team has been proven to be capable of doing great, unexpected things, it is the Royals.
One of the main causes of the Royals’ sputtering April and May lineups was Eric Hosmer’s inability to get on base or hit for power, but his revival in June through today has been one of the main causes of the offensive turnaround. Combining power, patience, and hitting for a high average, Hosmer has an OPS near .900 during the last month of baseball. Like Hosmer, Brandon Moss was atrocious to start the year, but is now taking his walks and slugging over .500 over his last thirty games, so it appears the Moss we all know and love is back on track.
After years of being the team’s best hitter, Alex Gordon may just not have it anymore, as his long season has just been getting worse, batting under the Mendoza line and looking completely lost and frustrated at the plate this season.
Monday August 14th at 7:05 - Jharel Cotton vs Jake Junis
Tueday August 15th at 7:05 - Chris Smith vs Jason Hammel
Wednesday August 16th at 12:35 - Paul Blackburn vs Danny Duffy
How the A’s Win the Series
Oakland’s pitching has been awful of late, and it's not just because of the Sonny Gray and Doolittle/Madson trades. Just about every starter or reliever on the team has underperformed this season, and many of the young rookies the A’s are banking on to lead the team in the future have taken steps back or stalled in their development. Going up against an inconsistent offense like the Royals could be a boon for a pitching staff that is trying to get back on track once again.