A’s and Rangers to Play for AL West TonightBy Daniel J.
Once again the Oakland A’s have surprised us by making it this far, but how many amazing late season runs will Oakland have to make in order for us not to shocked when they actually make the playoffs? Tonight Oakland and Texas will play for the division. The winner is the AL West champion, while the loser gets an AL wild card berth as consolation.
The A’s 3-1 victory over the Rangers last night pulled them into a first-place tie in the AL West for the first time since late March. Oakland incredibly came back from 13 games of Texas to do it in just over three months and will try to be the first team to come back from that deficit to win a division since the Mariners did it in 1995.
They’ve done it without superstars or egos, but rather just a group of guys who have found ways to win.
“As long as we believe inside this clubhouse and we know we can get it, we’re going to do it. I honestly believe we’re going to win tomorrow,” A’s closer Grant Balfour told ESPN last night after the win. “Nothing is guaranteed, but it’s about as good as. I believe we can go out there and get it done.”
That belief in the team has translated into 93 wins so far, including game two of their final season series with Texas last night.
After giving up a third-inning run on an RBI double by Josh Hamilton, Oakland starter Travis Blackley settled into a groove and shutdown Texas for the next three frames, leaving the game after six. Derek Norris got the offense going in the fifth with an RBI single that ended up scoring two after Nelson Cruz bobbled the ball in right field. Jonny Gomes added some insurance in the next inning with a solo homer that made the score 3-1.
Tonight, Oakland goes for the sweep of Texas and for the divisional title. A.J. Griffin (7-1) will get the ball for the A’s tonight against Ryan Dempster (7-3) and even though both teams are playoff bound, there is still a lot at stake, but Oakland’s approach will be the same as always. Have fun and see what happens.
“This isn’t game seven of the World Series. It’s not win or go home,” Gomes said. “We’re going to play loose. We’re going to have fun and just continue to pass the torch. Hopefully tomorrow we get our pitching, defense and homers. That’s been it for us.”
You have to admire what Oakland has accomplished with the squad that they have and you also have to understand the momentum they are rolling into this game with. With the A’s on a high and with Griffin coming off some great recent outings, take Oakland to win this one and win the AL West.