The race for the Wild Card spots in the American League is, as of late September, still wide open, and there is one team in particular that isn’t being talked about enough: the Oakland Athletics.
Right now, the Boston Red Sox have the first Wild Card position with an 86-65 record, followed closely by the Toronto Blue Jays, one game behind.
The slumping New York Yankees are 1.5 games behind the Jays, having lost their last two games against the Cleveland Indians.
The Athletics are right there, half-a-game behind the Yanks and two games behind the Jays for the second spot of the Wild Card.
Even the Seattle Mariners, at four games behind Toronto, have a remote chance of finding themselves in the postseason.
The A’s Are Playing Great Baseball Right Now
Oakland has made the race much more entertaining with its recent play.
They have won seven of their last 10 games, and currently have an ongoing five-game winning streak.
The A’s work a little harder than they should have, but Oakland wraps up a weekend sweep 🧹of the Angels. #Athletics have won 5-straight.
Boston and Toronto won, #Yankees lost.
— Joe Hughes (@VegasJoeHughes) September 19, 2021
Many people thought that the team would lose its helium once their best pitcher, Chris Bassitt, was struck in the face with a comebacker.
But here we are, and Oakland is still pushing for a spot in postseason baseball.
Since losing to the Kansas City Royals six days ago, all they have done is win.
They won two against Kansas City and swept the Los Angeles Angels in three nail-biters: 5-4, 3-1, and 3-2.
Oakland’s starting pitchers performed admirably over the weekend.
Cole Irvin, who has a 3.94 ERA in 164.1 innings in 2021, allowed just an earned run in six frames on Friday.
Rookie James Kaprielian (3.80 ERA in 111.1 episodes) tossed six scoreless frames on Saturday.
In the series finale, the impressive Frankie Montas (3.57 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) threw seven scoreless with seven punchouts.
As long as they can keep themselves afloat and their pitchers keep answering the call, the A’s will be in the race until the end of the season.
A Tough Calendar
They may or may not make it to October, but they will be very hard to beat.
The quest to the postseason has four remaining series for the Athletics: a four-game set against the Mariners, and then three consecutive three-game series against the Houston Astros, the Mariners again, and the Astros to finish the season.
The pitching has been getting the job done: the A’s, however, will need their offense to step up and mash.
Oakland’s premier trade deadline acquisition Starling Marte has been a bit cold in recent days, (he is 0-for-13 in his last three games), but he remains one of the most dynamic baserunners in the game, with 45 steals, and a .311 average and 11 homers as a bonus.
The Matts, premier corner infielders in the game for their offensive and defensive contributions, also need to step up.
Matt Olson might *only* rank sixth in the league with 103 RBI, BUT his 66 games knocking in at least one runner leads all of MLB.
— Jessica Kleinschmidt (@KleinschmidtJD) September 19, 2021
The team is good and deep enough that even when some stars are struggling, others perform and keep the team right in the Wild Card race.
Beware with the A’s: they are good, talented, and hungry.