The Oakland A’s still aren’t going to the 2021 postseason, but at least they’re staying in the race as long as possible.
Entering their weekend series against the Houston Astros, the A’s chances of grabbing a Wild Card had dropped to around a tenth of one percentage point, only a token fraction above zero. They responded by sweeping the division-leading Astros in three games at the Coliseum, playing like the contender we’d hoped to see all summer. On Friday they scored 14 runs in a blowout, and then they won walk-offs on Saturday and Sunday, with the bullpen holding mostly steady and the lineup coming up clutch.
- Game #154: A’s thump Astros 14-2
- Game #155: A’s outduel Astros with walk-off in 9th inning
- Game #156: A’s walk off again, sweep Astros
It won’t be enough to make a difference in the playoff hunt, but it was a heck of a fun way to wrap up the home schedule for the year.
There were five teams competing for two AL Wild Card spots. Since our last look on Friday, there’s been little movement in the standings.
Oakland gained a game! They’re now three out with six to play, and with three teams ahead of them for the Second Wild Card, and apparently there still exists an obscure combination of events that could result in them getting that spot.
The Yankees made things even tougher by sweeping the Red Sox over the weekend, which only rearranged the order of the two Wild Cards without giving much chance for anybody else to catch up on the second spot. The Blue Jays and Mariners each won two of their last three against sub-.500 opponents.
The next few days will decide a lot, with mostly head-to-head matchups between this group. The Yankees head to Toronto, and the A’s visit Seattle, while Boston spends the rest of the year playing two of the weakest doormats in the majors.
- NYY @ TOR
- BOS @ BAL
- OAK @ SEA
New York can either knock out the Jays or blow their own lead and let Toronto back into it. The Sox control their own fate. The A’s and M’s are probably battling for consolation second place in the AL West, unless something goes really weird with those three AL East contenders.
As for Oakland’s postseason odds, they did rise slightly over the weekend. The highest mark they had at that time was 0.2%, but one scale now has them up over a full percentage point. In the division race, Houston leads the A’s by six with six to go, three of which will be head-to-head later this week.
The Mariners are in the 2-6% range, with the Jays in the 28-41% range, and the Sox still have the edge over the Yankees (both 70s/80s) thanks to their favorable remaining schedule.
Sweeping the Astros didn’t save Oakland’s season, as the October ship had already pretty much sailed and it’s probably not coming back for us. But it delayed elimination and helped keep things interesting all the way to the bitter end.
May as well do it again this week, against the Mariners this time!