Beware the Ides of August…
The Oakland A’s have been teetering on the verge of both second place in the AL West and 1st in the Wild Card standings for what seems like an eternity. Maintaining the winning momentum they built up from July is like trying to maintain the momentum needed during the Danza de los Voladores and during a playoff race, it’s twice as dangerous. Obviously I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that the A’s are vying for the AL West until they can cut the 6 game lead the Rangers have on the division to 2 by the end of the next 3 series. So lets get into who the A’s will be facing and just why they should be wary of the Ides of August.
Oakland will be getting a brief 9 game respite versus the division leaders & wild card hopefuls when they begin the final series of their road trip against the Kansas City Royals. The Royals have played the A’s tough this year despite what their 49-65 record might say. In the last series in Kansas City, Oakland was barely able to make it out of KC with a win in that series and were in the depths of under .500 ball with a record of 23-31 after the 3 game set. So Kansas City will be no cake walk and take into account the heat & thunder storms over the next couple of days in KC and the A’s will have their work cut out for them. Especially if Brandon Inge’s shoulder MRI turns out to be worse than previously thought, the dreadful .180 Batting average that the A’s have had against KC this season will start to feel a lot more like the oppressive midwest heat than the cool bay area breeze.
If the A’s aren’t careful, Kansas City could be one of those series that may be taken a little lightly after the tough 3 game set and series loss to the Chicago Whitesox over the weekend. Oakland needs to bounce back and just forget that the Chicago series ever happened because if they don’t, a series like that can begin to manifest itself into some not so nice things like DL stints & tough losses. Which are the exact type of things that Oakland needs to be avoiding at this point in the season. Go into Kansas City and take 2 out of 3 and be done with the Midwest like some cheap floozie, beer, random alcoholic beverage or whatever else you can think of that you can disregard without much dismay.
Probable Starters vs KC:
8/14/12: Jarrod Parker (7-6) vs Jeremy Guthrie (1-3)
8/15/12: Brandon McCarthy (6-3) vs Will Smith (3-4)
8/16/12: Dan Straily (0-0) vs Luke Hochevar (7-10)
Next team up upon returning to Oakland will be the much maligned Cleveland Indians. Of the 3 next series, the Indians trouble me the most and keep me up at night like a Keep America Beautiful ad because although the Indians may be playing like trash, they have already taken the first series vs the A’s earlier this season. As well as, splitting a 4 game series against Boston & already taking the 1st game against the Angels in their current 3 game series. The Indians offense is ranked above the A’s for the month of August (11th in AL) and are posting some eerily similar numbers during that time. Especially with the A’s younger starters having run into some trouble over their last couple of starts, the A’s needn’t play with fire and would be best served to sweep the Indians at home in order to stay within striking distance of the Division & Wild Card. (Sorry, the play on words with cleaning was very unintentional, damn you Keep America Beautiful Ad!)
Finally, to end the homestand the Minnesota Josh Willingham’s will be coming into town to exact some more revenge on the A’s for not resigning him this off season. The season series is tied at 3 a piece with both teams sweeping each other in their first 2 series. Both series have been played in Minnesota, so the Josh Willingham one man wrecking crew will be taking his talents to Oakland this time around. Against Oakland Pitching, Willingham is hitting a whopping .435, 5 HR’s, 12 RBI’s, SLG% 1.130, and OBP 1.630. Somehow the A’s will have to find a way to keep Willingham in check against them in Oakland or they might be in for a long series before they go back on the road for another 7 game road trip.
Like I said in the beginning, beware the Ides of August Oakland. Or you may not be around long enough to see the fruits of this years labor.
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