The Angels are a pesky team. The A’s win, the Angels win. The A’s lose, the Angels lose. On Monday night, the Angels jumped on the Dodgers early with four runs in the first, taking the game 5-0. The Athletics came from behind twice on Monday night and claimed the extra inning victory, 3-2 over Tampa Bay.
Oakland has been unable to create any sort of breathing room in the division as of late. Yet, this could end up helping the A’s reach at a minimum the ALCS for the first time since 2006.
In 2012, the Athletics played from behind the entire season, and on the last day caught the Texas Rangers and claimed the AL West. Playing from behind takes a lot out a a team, when the entire last month feels like the playoffs. Once they reach the playoffs, there is no extra gear to kick it into. The bullpen was used a TON down the stretch as well, with Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour all pitching the final four days of the season. Obviously, it’s ideal to rest your team a little before heading in to the playoffs.
In 2013, the division race with Texas was close. In fact, the Rangers held the lead by a game on September 3rd. By September 22nd, the A’s had an 8.5 game lead and had clinched the division. The Rangers had fallen into a tailspin, and it was only a matter of time before the Athletics clinched that second straight AL West title. Perhaps they relaxed.
This season, the Angels are not only putting pressure on the A’s on a daily basis, it doesn’t appear as if they’ll be going away. The Angels have added depth to their bullpen, which had been their weak spot. Their offense is superb, and of course, they have Mike Trout.
How could the Angels sticking around be good? It will keep the Athletics competitive through all 162 games and keep them mentally sharp. As evidenced by the 2012 World Series, if a team gets a mental break, it can be difficult for them to regain their strut. The Detroit Tigers swept the New York Yankees in 2012’s ALCS, and were rewarded with some time off while the San Francisco Giants had to play seven games in order to advance. Pablo Sandoval had a bigger impact in game one than Miguel Cabrera had on the entire series. Even the best hitter in the league had a hard time recovering from some time off.
While this may not seem like much, baseball is a game that is meant to be played every day. Even the few days off for the All-Star break can ruin a hot hitter’s timing.
If the AL West race is able to stay close until the last week of the season, with Oakland clinching just before the season ends, this will allow the A’s to still set up their rotation for the ALDS and keep them in a competitive mode.
The Angels may in fact be doing the Athletics a favor.
Tags: Oakland Athletics