By Jerry Feitelberg
Here we are. The A’s have just six games left in the regular season. They had an off-day on Monday as they traveled to Los Angeles to face the Angels. They have two games left with LA and then fly to Seattle to play four with the Mariners to end the season. The A’s own a record of 94-62 and lead the Tampa Bay Rays by 1 1/2 games for the first Wild Card. The Rays beat Boston on Monday to pick up 1/2 game on the A’s. The Rays play the next two games at home against the AL East champs, the New York Yankees. New York could help the A’s bt sweeping the series. The Rays then go to Toronto for three.
The A’s have to continue winning. They cannot let up as both Tampa and Cleveland have a chance to make the playoffs. The Angel and Mariners would love nothing better than upsetting the A’s applecart. The Angels and M’s will finish in fourth and fifth places in the AL West. Each team has had a season of adversity. The Angels have had to deal with the loss of Tyler Skaggs. Skaggs’ death put the Angels in a season-long funk. Also, their start centerfielder, Mike Trout, is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury. The Angels have been devastated by injury and are limping to the finish. The Mariners got off to a good start. They have traded away many of their star players as they are in rebuild mode. The A’s cannot afford to take them lightly.
The A’s Will send Homer Bailey to the hill Tuesday night in Anaheim. Bailey is 13-8 with an ERA of 4.55. The Angels will counter with lefty Dillon Peters. Peters is 3-3 with an ERA of 4.81. Peters will be making his first start ever against the A’s. This is a situation where the A’s cannot afford to relax. They will be going against a pitcher they have never seen. The A’s cannot afford to lose this game. It could happen, but it will be up to manager Bob Melvin to figure out the matchups. On Wednesday, it will be a battle of lefties. Brett Anderson will go for Oakland, and he will be opposed by Andrew Heaney. Anderson is 12-9 with an ERA of 4.00. Heaney is 4-6 and has an ERA of 5.10. The last time Heaney faced the A’s, he went six innings and gave up five runs.
The A’s finish with four against the Mariners. On Thursday Mike Fiers (15-4, ERA 3.91) will handle the pitching chores for Oakland. The M’s will counter with the veteran righty, Felix Hernandez. King Felix is nearing the end of his illustrious career. Hernandez has beaten the A’s many times over the years, but these days, he is a shadow of his former self. His record is 1-7, and his ERA is 6.51. He would like nothing better than handing the A’s a loss. Lefty Sean Manaea (3-0, 1.14ERA) will make his fifth start of the year, and lefty Justus Sheffield (0-1, 5.81 ERA) will go for Seattle. Saturday will feature Tanner Roark and the M’s Marco Gonzalez. The Rangers sent Roark to an early shower last Sunday. Roark gave up at least four home runs early in the game, and the A’s could not recover. His opponent, lefty Marco Gonzalez, the M’s best pitcher with a record of 16-12 and 4.09 ERA) has given the A’s a tough time all season long. The final game of the year will see Homer Bailey going for Oakland and Justin Dunn pitching for Seattle. Dunn will be making his third start of the year.
The A’s know that they cannot let up for one second. Even though they are playing teams with losing records., they must not take either team lightly. If they win four of the last six, that should be enough to give them the first Wild Card. They would then host the one-game playoff in Oakland. They would later play either the Yankees or the Houston Astros in the ALDS. The A’s won the season series from the Yanks 4 games to two. The Astros won the season series from Oakland 11-8. The A’s, however, won six of the last eight games from Houston. The Yanks and the Astros know that the A’s are a good team. The A’s have solidified their starting rotation with the addition Of Bailey and Roark. The bullpen will feature Yusmeiro Petit, Joakim Soria, Jake Diekman, A.J.Puk, Jesus, Luzardo, Chris Bassitt, Blake Treinen, and closer, Liam Hendriks.
The A’s have power up and down the lineup. They have three infielders with 30 or more home runs. Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olson all can change a ballgame with one swing of the bat. Outfielder Mark Canha had hit 26 bombs. Ramon Laureano is back, and he had 22 in the books before he was injured. Versatile Chad Pinder can also put the ball out of the park. The A’s are excellent on defense, and they do not beat themselves. They have all the ingredients necessary to make a run to a championship. They can do it. No one knows what will happen. The Kansas City Royals won the 2014 Wild Card game against Oakland and went to the World Series. They won it all the following year. Anything can happen in baseball. They have to make the playoffs. Anything can happen. Baseball is unpredictable. The A’s are playing great baseball at this point in the season. They know they can win. They just have to do it.