With two wins in a row finally under their belt, is it safe to say that the Oakland Athletics are back and ready to make a run for it?. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Return? How could two wins be a return, Jason? Well, consecutive wins had not been managed by the Oakland Athletics since August 22-23 against the Angels. While it may be premature to call this a return by the A’s, they did win a game that Felix Hernandez started over the weekend, and that is a feat that this team had yet to accomplish this season. I’m saying the A’s are back, and will be a force in the playoffs.
The upcoming schedule for the Athletics includes nine games at home, then a four-game set in Texas to finish up the regular season. The nine at home will be against Texas (57-92), Philadelphia (69-80) and the Angels (93-56).
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The past couple of years, the A’s have been a thorn in the sides of the Rangers. This season, they plummeted due to the copious amount of injuries they’ve suffered from Spring Training on. This is their opportunity to play spoiler to the Athletics. Will they? Outside of their three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves over the weekend, the Rangers have totaled just one other victory this month, giving them a 4-9 record in September. Of the seven games left between these teams, I think the A’s win five. The outcomes may be a little too close for comfort at times, but the A’s need these games and will find a way to come out victorious.
The Phillies are 7-6 this month against teams all vying for a postseason berth. That’s the bad news. The good news is that these games are at home, and the Phillies are tossing righty David Buchanan (6-7, 3.75), righty Jerome Williams (5-6, 5.44) and righty A.J. Burnett (8-16, 4.34) at the A’s. If you didn’t catch that: they’re all righties. Southpaws have been Oakland’s kryptonite of late. The break is lefties will give the offense a chance to get some regular playing time, and get them going right between the ears down the stretch.
If the Oakland Athletics take care of business against the Rangers and Phillies, the Angels series won’t matter as much, aside from Kole Calhoun being “booed” mercilessly after his comments directed at A’s fans in Anaheim.
Fangraphs is projecting that the second wild-card team will need to have accumulated 89 wins to clinch the seed. That means the A’s just need six more victories, or a 6-7 record to finish out the season. I’m projecting a 9-4 finish for the Oakland Athletics.
That all being said, as everything sits right now the A’s are set to face the Kansas City Royals. With the way things are set up currently, Roayls’ ace James Shields would be pitching on Friday, September 26th. Why is that significant? Shields would be on three day’s rest for a potential wild-card game against Jon Lester, who would be on full rest.
The Royals and Mariners are separated by a single game for that final wild-card spot, which also means that Felix Hernandez may have to reign supreme on the final day to clinch a postseason berth for Seattle, almost certainly making him unavailable to pitch two days later as the wild-card game starter.
Whatever happens in these next two weeks, we can all hope for the Mariners and Royals to keep it neck and neck down the stretch so that both squads have to expend their aces on the final day of the regular season. If the A’s are able to knock-off either team, that would set them up perfectly for an ALDS date with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; and a date with revenge.