Aug 9, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher Derek Norris (36) hits a three run home run in the sixth inning of their MLB baseball game with the Minnesota Twins at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Athletics Week in Review: Some Room To Breathe

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The last few weeks have been fairly stressful for Athletics fans. I mean, think how our expectations for the team have changed since spring training. This Athletics team has progressed from opening the season as a good team with some question marks, quickly became a surprisingly solid unit and before long the term “best team in baseball” was being bandied around in every reference to the club. Then came the trades: Beane pushed two of the system’s best prospects, the team’s most talented athlete and two back of the rotation starters into the middle of the table to get Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester and Jason Hammel (plus Sam Fuld and Jonny gomes). All of a sudden, the team is all in for 2014 and each win feels like it was necessary and every loss feels like a potentially fatal wound. Especially with all the uncertainty of the stadium situation, the future is murky at best so all we have as A’s fans is the now. It punctuates everything the team does.

The Angels have been no help, of course. Over the last few weeks Team Disney has been staying right on the Athletics collective heels. At the All-Star Break, the Angels were just one and a half back from Oakland, and over the last three weeks have been between 1 and 3 games behind the A’s…until this week that is, when the Dodgers took three out of four from their crosstown rivals and the Halos dropped the first game to Boston on Friday. Four games isn’t that big of a deal, but with less than two months left in the regular season it looks a whole lot better than it has.

Weekly Record: 5-2

Overall Record: 72-45

Angels Record: 68-49 (4 games behind)

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays, now literally Price-less after trading their ace to Detroit, came into Oakland on Monday fourth in the AL East and three games under .500 on the season. Tampa Bay and Oakland have their similarities in payroll and stadium situations and All-Star stud third basemen, and you don’t have to squint too hard to imagine the A’s selling off at the end of July instead of the Rays.

Monday night was the Rally Possum game. Of course, like the O.Co Coli needed more to tarnish it’s already sewage-covered image, a possum of all creatures gets caught on camera in extras and becomes an instant celebrity.  Samardzija pitched excellently, but the Athletics just couldn’t get runners home, stranding baserunners all night. In the bottom of the tenth, however, Derek Norris hit a single off old friend Grant Balfour, driving in Sam Fuld and the A’s got one in the W column. #RallyPossum showed up throughout my feed and then the little guy himself started a twitter account. We have some awesome fans, people. Tuesday night, Jason Hammel pitched 5.2 scoreless and Oakland won again 3-0 before the Rays jumped all over young starter Sonny Gray for seven runs in less than 5 innings Wednesday.

Minnesota Twins

The A’s took the first three games from the Twins. The bats rallied behind Jon Lester who was perfect through six in game one, bailed out Kaz who looked great until he hit trouble in the seventh and scored plenty for Shark who pitched excellently in front of his friend the Rally Possum. Today, Hammel was pretty good giving up just one run over 6+ innings in his second straight solid start after struggling his first month in green and gold, but Luke Gregerson and Jesse Chavez gave up six runs combined and the bats just didn’t come through.

Am I the only one who doesn’t like Norris getting the day off? At least have him DH, it’s not like we can’t push Vogt behind the plate if something happens to Jaso. Just saying. Luckily, old friend Yoenis Cespedes hit a three run homer for the Red Sox, who beat the Angels 3-1. Gotta love Yo, he’s still doing good things for the A’s even if he isn’t wearing the uniform anymore.

Link of the Week

Again, please always check out Tony’s Twitter Roundup here on Swingin’ A’s, it’s awesome.

Here’s Derek Norris’s three run dinger from Saturday’s fun romp. It’s pure joy, it doesn’t come at a particularly important part of the game, the team didn’t really *need* nine runs, but Norris does what Norris does. We love you, D-No.

The Week Ahead

Our Oakland Athletics head to Kansas City for four games against the surging Royals. Of course, the A’s are facing them with Gray, Lester, Kazmir and Shark so it’s hard not to feel good going into the road trip with that rotation…if the offense can score some runs behind the pitching, that is. After KC, the boys will fly into Atlanta for a weekend series against the Braves. The Angels have a game off on either side of two games against the Phillies and then spend the weekend in Arlington against the Rangers, so if the A’s want to keep them at a distance our boys in green and gold will have to have a good week.

Let’s Go Oak-land!!!

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