The Oakland A’s (38-42 ) just finished a four game series with the Texas Rangers (50-30). They were able to win 3-1 on Sunday and avoided the dreaded sweep.
With today’s win they are now 12 games behind the Rangers and are in third place in the American League West.
They’re Just Not Good
If you listened to the pundits before the season started, you would have to think that even with a sub .500 record the A’s have overachieved in 2012.
It’s not always pretty though. Last Wednesday’s offensive dud was a perfect example, they managed just two hits, both solo home runs, in a 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners. The win gave the A’s their fourth series win in five tries.
They beat the Mariners two out of three in Seattle and only managed ten hits for the entire series.
Winning when you’re not necessarily playing your best baseball is a bonus.
With the A’s playing a Rangers team that ranks No. 1 across the board in all major offensive categories, batting average, runs, OBP and slugging percentage, playing bad and winning was not a luxury afforded to the club as the series came to a close.
With a pitching staff that has been plagued with injuries, the A’s have turned to guys like Jarrod Parker (4-3, 2.57, 6 quality starts). Remember when the team shipped off Trevor Cahill to the Arizona Diamondbacks? Parker was part of that trade. I don’t think anyone is complaining.
Lets not forget about A.J. Griffin (0-0, 1.50, 2 quality starts) and Travis Blackley, the 29 year old well traveled left handed Aussie has giving the A’s 28 innings in his last four starts (all quality starts) while going 2-2 in the process.
These guys have done what has been asked of them; go out there and gobble up innings and try to get the game to the bullpen.
Don’t Hang Your Head
Already trailing the Rangers by 10 games, the A’s needed to bring their A-game every night, or they could have found themselves 14 games back, when the series ended. Sunday’s win caused a two game swing and instead of 14 back, the number is now 12.
The Rangers have won 15 of their last 19 games.
The A’s have shown they can beat the Rangers. The last time the two teams met back in early June, they played a four game set, in which the A’s took three of four.
What was the team’s mindset as they headed for Texas? Of course they would have loved a sweep, but realistically, what did the A’s need to take away from this series? I’m not speaking entirely about wins.
Yes, a sweep would have changed the landscape of the American League West. But let’s say they would have split or taken three of four in the series. The former would have put them in the same spot they were in when the series began-10 games back. The latter shrinks the Rangers lead to eight games.
Anything less than taking two games from this series would have been a failure right? Losing three dropped them to 12 games back, and that mountain may be a bit steep to climb.
Not so fast, the A’s proved they can hang with the best, and they probably exited this last series thinking they left a lot on the table. So with nine games remaining against Texas (three to end the season) that mountain may not look so high after all.
The A’s did have a lead in every game of this last series and they just flat out gave away the first two games. With a three error game, one might say the same about game three.
As we enter today’s play, Oakland is right in the mix (five games back), as far as the wild card race is concerned.
Giving up on the AL West is not what I’m implying here. The A’s can play with the Rangers, they’ve proved it, but the bed has been made with their current 12 game deficit. The nine-game losing streak from May 22-June 1, definitely didn’t help matters. There was a silver lining though, the Rangers went 5-4 in the same time span. Things could have been a whole lot worse.
Don’t Forget About the “Halos”
The A’s nine-game swoon caused more problems than just falling further behind Texas. The Los Angeles Angels won nine of ten in that May 22-June 1 time frame, leaving the A’s looking up at two teams in the AL West.
The Halos are in second place in the AL West, 5.5 games behind the Rangers
Are the Angels more so than the Rangers the team the A’s should worry about? If they catch the Rangers, great, but staying within striking distance of the Angels may be more important to a more attainable wild card spot.
No Moral Victories Though
The A’s have definitely overachieved so far, and A’s fans should be pleased. Pleased, not satisfied.
There comes a point where the club needs to get past overachieving and become a contender.
Showing flashes that they can be a contender, then failing to get over the hump and actually do so, will soon get real old and turn into disappointment.