The A’s went into the month of September with a record of 77-58 and found themselves a couple of games back of the Texas Rangers in the AL West. They started the second half of the season struggling to score runs and more surprisingly struggling to prevent them. However, a trip to Detroit for a four game series seemingly brought back the A’s swagger of the first half and jump-started them into September. The A’s have one of the best records in baseball in the month of September and a lot can be learned from reflecting on a month that saw the A’s flip the standings and clinch another AL West. Here are some of those things that were learned:
Sep 13, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcherRyan Cook
(48) reacts to walking a batter in the eighth inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
-The A’s bullpen is shaky at times, but can still finish the job. Consistent relievers such as Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour showed some flashes of breaking down, but nonetheless the team overcame those issues and continued to win. What this told me is that the team had large enough leads to where a reliever having an off night did not cost the team the game and that even if a reliever’s off night cost the game they came back the next day and won. That showed a lot of resolve and confidence.
-The A’s are the piranhas of baseball at the moment. After a game in their recent series against the Twins at the Coliseum Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire said of the A’s “It’s like piranhas with blood in the water,” in relation to their offensive outbursts against the Twins over the course of the season.
-The A’s can play and beat anyone. They beat the Tampa Bay Rays and Rangers over the course of the month proving that they can beat a playoff caliber team handedly. This is crucial to winning in October as having experience from last year and playing in playoff-caliber games in September can only be a positive.
-The A’s are going into October playing their best baseball of the season. Even if they lost the series to the Angels and pending the outcome of the Seattle Mariners series the A’s are on fire and look like a team that is primed to make a deep run in October. September is the best month of the season to catch fire, as the San Francisco Giants of 2010 and 2012 will show you.
-The final thing September showed us was that the A’s can win in multiple ways offensively. Last year the team primarily relied on the long ball, but this season with the emergence of Josh Donaldson and the acquisition of Jed Lowrie the A’s have multiple hitters within the lineup that are dual threats. They can get timely hits and also hit one out if need be.
September showed us that the A’s are again for real and have a legitimate shot at a deep October run, this season even more than last. Their big wins, big time pitches, and clutch hits all prove that. It isn’t difficult to look at the last month of a season for a playoff team and say they played well. But to absolutely dominate your division and get hot in the last month is a different story entirely. This story might just get told in the last game of the MLB season.