With the final pitch thrown by Grant Balfour Sunday afternoon the A’s regular season finished up. With 96 wins the Green and Gold handled their business and are on their way to October baseball for the second year in a row. The path to the World Series is a difficult one. It begins with that pesky team that always seems to beat the A’s in the playoffs in the Detroit Tigers. With four more days until the ALDS the A’s have a few days to remember the bitter taste left in their mouth after losing Game 5 at the Coliseum in the ALDS last season.
This year feels different however. The Tigers are somewhat injured, their offense is struggling which ultimately culminated in being no hit by Henderson Alvarez and the Marlins on the last day of the season. Miguel Cabrera, MVP favorite, is not the same player he was last year as he is playing through an abdominal and hip injury. Their pitching isn’t as good either although the numbers don’t necessarily show it. Justin Verlander, the A’s villain, has lost his CY Young form of last year and the year before.
Even though the regular season gets thrown out (i.e. series won head to head, etc.) there is something to be said about how the A’s took it to the Tigers in late August. That series was certainly a statement not only to the fans, but to the players as well that they could beat the mighty Tigers, even in Detroit. With the series starting off in Oakland this year the A’s have the upper hand especially considering that the third deck tarps will be off. The Coliseum will be even louder than last season and have an ambience unmatched in Oakland in decades.
The one thing that could hinder the A’s is the time off between the season finale and Game 1 of the ALDS. The A’s went into the All Star break on fire and coming off a huge series win against the Boston Red Sox. Coming out of the break however was a different story. It took the team a couple of weeks to get their consistency and swagger back. This should be of minor concern since most of the players go away on vacation or home then come back during the All Star break, while during the break between now and the ALDS the players are staying in Oakland working on small things and formulating games plans and strategies.
The ALDS is so close yet so far away. The next four days will be unbearable with the anticipation of October baseball at the Coliseum again. It will be packed and the loudest it has been in since before the tarps were put on. There will be baseball to watch and rosters to be announced in the days leading up to Game 1, but Friday cannot get here soon enough. It is time for another chance to bring the World Series back across the bay. The wait begins…