Now is when we learn even more about the Athletics…
So you just got swept by the division rival Angels who are now just 2.5 back of you, fall to 4.5 back of the division leading Texas Rangers, have to face Felix Hernandez in your first game of the weekend and are in a virtual deadlock with 3 AL East teams in the Wild Card standings. You would think that I would be worried but seasons like this are what make Baseball great. You’re supposed to be in spitting distance of first place and scoreboard watching every single day because that is the best way to watch baseball. Having your emotions go up and down with every swing of the bat or getting up in disgust because another hitter has left runners in scoring position with another opportunity to put runs on the board. The anxiety of possibly losing another game in the standings starts to creep in and then every possible bit of mojo or ritual is brought out in an attempt to shoo away the games back gremlins because they love half games but crave full games with the blood lust of a frenzied shark.
This environment is exactly where the A’s and their fans find themselves going into a pivotal weekend series in Seattle. But first things first, I want to wish a speedy recovery to Brandon McCarthy after he took a line drive off the head during Wednesdays 7-1 loss of the series finale in Oakland. McCarthy was safely out of surgery on Wednesday night to relieve the pressure on his brain due to the line drive. He was diagnosed with an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion, and skull fracture. I can speak for all A’s fans when I say just get healthy Brandon and everyone is pulling for you and your family.
Now the awkward transition back to talking about the series in Seattle and the rest of the road trip. If you haven’t been watching this team all season and just joined in on the fun that’s happening in Oakland, you would be in full on panic mode after the series sweep by the Angels. I’m here to tell you don’t be. Yes, it was not a good look losing 3 in a row to the Angels but those are the breaks sometimes during a long season. Or did we quickly forget about the 9 game winning streak that the A’s had going into the Anaheim series? Look I get it, the schedule for the rest of September looks about as daunting as an ill prepared climb up to the summit of Everest but in the eyes of Bob Melvin it may seem like just another day at the office.
“We’re not afraid to play on the road. We’ve had some success on the road, it’s not something we’re looking at as daunting. The schedule is the schedule.”
The upcoming stretch of 7 games on the road will do much to not only give us even more insight to this already improbable team but it may just define the season. 3 games versus Seattle is essentially the easy stretch of the schedule and the only “breather” that the A’s have in the month of September until they see Seattle again at the end of the month.
Mind you that “breather” involves facing Felix Hernandez, who coming into Friday’s game was 9-1 in his last 15 starts and posting a 1.62 ERA during that time. So pitchers like A.J. Griffin, Tommy Milone, and the new Ace of the staff Brett Anderson will have to carry the pitching load with the loss of McCarthy. Plus with veteran players dropping like flies right now i.e. Bartolo Colon, Brandon Inge, and now Brandon McCarthy, the true grit of both the young pitching staff and young position players is completely set to be tested just like out of some made for tv movie.
Where the young team who no one believed in, finally begins to start putting things together and then one more hurdle is placed in their way. They lose 2 of their most important vets and they somehow have to pull together as a team before the big game. This situation is almost quite literally what is going on with the 2012 Oakland Athletics and I’m just starting to get my popcorn ready for the final act so cue the Major League soundtrack.
The A’s end up beating “King” Felix 6-1 on Friday night and were able to knock Hernandez out of the game after 4 2/3 innings and 96 pitches. George Kottaras hit a 3 run home run in the 4th inning to push the lead to 4-1 and then that was when the wheels started to fall off of the King Felix express. The A’s were then to tack on 2 more runs in the 5th inning to push the lead to 6-1. A.J. Griffin ended up going 5 1/3 innings and threw 106 pitches and was able to keep the Seattle line up in check and then hand over the game to the bullpen to lock down the win.
AL West: 4.5 games behind Texas, 2.5 Games in front of the Angels
Wild Card Standings: Lead the first Wild card Spot at 77-60, Baltimore is in the second Wild Card Spot at 77-61. The Tampa Bay Rays are 1 game back, the Angels 2 games back, and the Tigers are 3.5 games back.
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