Why the Oakland Athletics Are Still in the AL West Divisional Race
It is hard to believe that in mid-June, the Oakland Athletics were nine games under .500. Or maybe it is hard to grasp that the A's have a playoff spot as of Labor Day weekend.
One thing is certain. The Athletics, who were nine games behind the division-leading Texas Rangers on July 17th and were six games back as recently as August 25th, are only three back.
Today they increased their winning streak to eight games with yet another victory over the Boston Red Sox. They did not pour on 20 runs as they did on Friday. Today's game was a much closer 7-1 pounding by the Athletics. Only one former Red Sox player, Coco Crisp, homered against them today.
Oakland pitcher A.J. Griffin held the Red Sox hitless into the fifth and the offense did the rest. The A's did indeed lose third baseman Brandon Inge, according to the AP, to a season-ending injury. But Oakland just keeps rolling.
They are facing a brutal schedule filled with contending teams, but they did in July as well. They won big back in July, including a four-game sweep of the Yankees. There is no reason to see that this team is going to collapse now.
The Athletics are indeed a playoff-worthy team. Now they'll see if they can catch the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers, win the division outright and avoid a one-game wild-card playoff.
In fact, Oakland plays Texas seven out of the last 10 games of the season. If the A's can maintain that three-game deficit or narrow it over the next few weeks, the finale of the season could be a remarkable showdown with the final three games between the Athletics and Rangers.
It is hard to imagine the A's passing the Rangers for the division lead. But all season long the A's have exceeded our wildest expectations. Maybe the time has come to grasp the idea and believe it can happen.
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