So the A’s beat the Blue Jays. Terrific. Great fun. But it doesn’t matter.
I repeat: It doesn’t matter.
Why? Because Texas beat the Angels. So the A’s gained no ground on the Rangers. And so, it matters not. What does matter? The A’s host the Rangers for three games starting Friday.
Those are Meaningful Games.
The A’s are up six on Texas. So what? The A’s were seven back in May. The pendulum swung 13 games in two months. Can it swing again?
Logic says no. The A’s are playing solid baseball. Their infield defense is better than anyone predicted without Scott Sizemore at first, or the return of Jemile Weeks to play second, which all of us, (or at least me), thought was a given. Let’s not forget Josh Donaldson flashing leather at third. And sure, we all wish Jed Lowrie had a better hose from deep short, but he blocks the middle, and given the hitting, I’ll take it.
The outfield? Well, we sure ain’t paying them for their bats. (Apparently). But, in the yawning chasms of the Coliseum outfield, perhaps range and guts are more valuable than hitting .300. (Or .250.)
The pitching, as covered elsewhere, has been stellar. And the bats just might be coming around, especially for La Pajita That Stirs the Drink.
Shouldn’t the Rangers know better?
They aren’t playing like it. Especially versus the A’s. And they sure aren’t spending like it. Matt Garza? The Rangers aren’t done. Expect them to add a bat. They’re looking toward October. That means, in a year with the Rays, the Orioles, the Indians, the Bosox and the Yanks, that the Rangers (or the A’s) have to win the Western Division to make the playoffs. If the Rangers thought it out of reach, Garza would be pitching for the Braves.
The Rangers have beat the A’s six of 10 games this season. The team they’re bringing later this week is better, and angrier, than the team that took three of four in June.
Texas believes the A’s stole last season from them. They believe the reason is the cancer they cut out and sent to Los Angeles. We’ll start finding out this weekend.
First up, Alexi Ogando versus a Tommy Milone who seems to have found the game to match his ego. Ogando has been shaky since coming off the DL. Milone probably pitched the game of his season last Sunday. If Tommy stays frosty, look for Ogando’s early exit. He hasn’t made it through two of his last three starts.
Saturday, it’s the newest Ranger, Matt Garza, versus Jarrod Parker. Garza throws smoke. But his style doesn’t jibe with the Coliseum. He’s a power pitcher that likes the four seamer. It moves, but generally up and off. He can be hit. If he gets hit, he can be rattled. Parker, on the other hand, hasn’t looked great lately, after showing signs of righting the ship in early July. He gave up 7 walks to the Angels last time out. Quite frankly, this one’s on the offense. A’s score six or more, they win. Less than that, they’ve got worry.
I want to like A.J. I like the goggles, the beach bum vibe. I like the array of pitches, the loopy curveball, the sneaky pitch selection. What don’t I like? The too clever A.J. who thinks a 68 mph batting practice lob is an effective changeup. If that A.J. shows up around inning 5, it could be a long afternoon. If he stays out of his head, and rolls with the game’s inevitable first setback, he’ll be fine. This one should be a battle. I bought a ticket.
After Sunday, the book on How the West Was Won will have its first climax. The lead will be less, or more than it was. The A’s can drive the first nail into the Rangers’ coffin. And Texas can prove they’re more than Mr. Hamilton’s Travelling Sideshow.