The narrative over the past day has switched from “The Angels are right on our heels,” to “Bring on Detroit. The World Series is ours!” I can understand the excitement. Billy Beane hasn’t made a big deadline move like this since the days of Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson. First things first, the Athletics have to win the division. That means outlasting the Angels.
With Yoenis Cespedes gone, the narrative will be about how the offense performs in his absence. Friday night’s game certainly didn’t help the argument that the Athletics will be fine. Minus the one big 9th inning in Houston, the A’s have scored just 5 runs in their past 4 games. Three of those games were with Cespedes in the lineup. The offense is just cold right now, so let’s not panic over that trade just yet.
The concerning issue for A’s fans should be that while the Athletics are 6-3 against the Angels this season, 3 of those games have gone into extras. That means that the teams are evenly matched. The other concerning issue is that the A’s have eaten up the Angels’ bullpen this season, a bullpen that is much improved of late with the additions of Joe Thatcher, Huston Street and even Jason Grilli. The player that has thrown out two Angels at the plate and had some big games against the Halos is now in Boston.
The Angels also like to score runs. Even with the improved pitching staff of the Athletics, the long ball has hurt them recently. The Angels have scored the second-most runs in baseball this season (the A’s are number one, but now missing a key contributor) and have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout.
That’s all of the bad news.
The good news is that the A’s have been able to gather wins against the previously unbeatable Jered Weaver, and Cy Young candidate Garrett Richards. The key in facing the Angels from here on out will be to get the lead off of the opposing starting pitcher. The Angel bullpen is much improved, and the Angels aren’t going away.
The A’s may have the easier schedule the rest of the way, but they need to start piling up some wins against these subpar teams. If they don’t, the AL West may come down to the remaining head-to-head match-ups between these two powerhouses. Even sending the Angels to the Wild Card game wouldn’t rid the A’s of the Halos. As everything stands, the A’s have the best record in the AL by 5 games (assuming the Angels are the Wild Card). The team with the best record gets to face the winner of the Wild Card game.
Before we start worrying about the Tigers, we first need to get past the Angels.
Tags: Oakland Athletics