Oakland Athletics Are Experiencing the Calm Before the Storm

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer IJuly 15, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 14: Brandon Moss #37 and Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the Oakland Athletics congratulate Chris Carter #22 on a three run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning on July 14, 2012 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

If any reader was told at the beginning of the season that the Oakland Athletics would be two games above .500 and within two games of a playoff spot, they would probably think "Maybe in April, but not after that."

Yet here we are, after the All Star Break, and the A's are a winning team within striking distance of one of the Wild Card slots. Teams like the Red Sox, Phillies, Brewers and Marlins can not claim to be winners now.

The Athletics won again last night against the lowly Twins. Tommy Milone won his ninth game, making the haul for Gio Gonzalez look even more impressive. Chris Carter, who has been on the cusp of being a major leaguer for what seems like since the days of Charlie O. Finley, is producing big power.

This could be the greatest story of the season. Bob Melvin should write his acceptance speech for the Manager of the Year now.

Or maybe not.

The A's are moving along the calm part of the river now. There are rapids ahead, the kind that tend to swallow up overachieving clubs like Billy Beane's latest bargain basement crew.

Starting on Tuesday, July 17, the A's play six straight against first the Rangers and then the Yankees, the two best teams in baseball. Then, after a day off, they travel to Toronto and Baltimore, neither team a pushover. Then they play three against Tampa Bay, four more against Toronto, three against the Angels and three in Chicago.

Between July 17 and August 12, they play all of the current division leaders and almost every contender. It is a 25-game gauntlet for the team that will test their resolve.

It is this 15 percent of the Athletics' season that could determine if this will be a memorable or forgettable season.

Right now they are two games over .500. If they finish the August 12 game in Chicago with a winning record, than this will indeed be a terrific year in the East Bay. If not, well nobody was expecting much anyway.

The A's go for the sweep in Minnesota today. They almost have to sweep. They need all the wins against poor teams that they can get.


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