It’s Crunch Time For The Oakland Athletics
Oakland is in the midst of what could be a make-or-break stretch
One week ago today, the Oakland A’s were set to begin a brutal 22-game, seven-series stretch that could very well determine the outcome of their 2021 season.
Seven games and two completed series into that stretch, the A’s are hoping better days are ahead–and that they come sooner than later.
Fresh off of dropping three out of four games to the Chicago White Sox, Oakland dropped a three-game series to the Bay Area rival San Francisco Giants in devastating fashion, blowing eighth inning leads on back-to-back days over the weekend to squander an opportunity to gain ground in both the American League West and Wild Card standings.
After Sunday’s loss to San Francisco, the A’s have fallen 2.5 games behind the New York Yankees for the top spot in the American League Wild Card race and remain 3.5 games back of the first-place Houston Astros in the American League West.
Oakland has another team nipping at its heels in the Boston Red Sox, as the A’s fell into a tie with Boston for the second Wild Card spot after Sunday’s defeat.
Even with the powerhouse Giants in the rearview mirror, the schedule does not let up for the A’s, not in the slightest.
Beginning on Monday, the A’s will open up a brief two-game set with the surging Seattle Mariners, a team that seemed dead in the water just over a week ago. After falling to 59-55 on August 10th, the M’s have won eight of its past 11 games to pull within three games of Oakland and Boston in the Wild Card race.
If Oakland wants to create separation between themselves and their AL West foe, they must take care of business on Monday and Tuesday at the Coliseum.
Things get even more difficult for the A’s following the Seattle series with the red-hot New York Yankees coming into town.
New York has shaken off a rough start to the season by going 26-8 since July 16th, entering play on Monday with a nine-game winning streak. The Yankees have leap-frogged both Boston and the A’s in the Wild Card standings, where they currently hold a 2.5 game lead as the top-spot.
Oakland could leave this weekend’s four-game set with the Yankees ahead of them in the standings–or perhaps well below.
Following a crucial set with the Yankees at the Coliseum this Thursday through Sunday, the A’s will face a sneaky Detroit Tigers team that has been playing above .500 baseball in the second half of the season. While the Tigers struggle on the road (27-36), they love playing at Comerica Park, entering play on Monday with a 33-30 record at their home ballpark.
Next up on Oakland’s not-so-easy stretch is a three-game set across the border against a frightening lineup in the Toronto Blue Jays.
Toronto, like Seattle, is another team that is knocking on the door when it comes to Oakland’s second Wild Card spot. The Jays enter play on Monday 4.5 games back of the A’s, meaning that each game will be the team’s most important of the season if they want to keep their hopes alive for October baseball.
And finally, the cherry on top for the end of this stretch: another set of games against those Chicago White Sox at the Coliseum.
After that, things begin to open up for Oakland as they face the lowly Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals before the final stretch of the season.
While those series against the bottom feeders look like a breath of fresh air, Oakland needs to make sure they are still breathing come September 10th. It’s make or break time for this team that has lost eight of its past 11 games right after a seven-game winning streak.
Ramón Laureano is not walking through that door, at least not until next season when his suspension ends. Chris Bassitt is unlikely to return until after this brutal stretch is over, if he is able return this season, that is, after suffering a facial fracture in a scary incident last week in Chicago.
The time is now for the Oakland A’s to prove that they belong in October.
Boston’s favorable schedule and New York’s red-hot lineup aren’t going to do them any favors. They’re going to have to do it on their own by winning baseball games.
Frankie Montas is pitching like an ace. Starling Marte has been the best trade deadline acquisition of the season. Can others step up to put this team in a position for postseason baseball?
It all starts tonight, right here on Sports 1140 KHTK when the A’s face the Seattle Mariners, with first pitch coming to you live at 6:40pm PST from the Coliseum.