Athletics Walk-Off in Dramatic Fashion After Replay, 1 Game Back of AL West Crown
The Oakland Athletics, a team that has been at the bottom of the AL West dump since 2015. During the last three seasons, the A's have been in last place every season with their best season being last year which resulted in just 75 wins. But this year, it has been a different story for the Green and Gold. Despite them trailing the Mariners for the second Wild Card in the AL for most of the second half, on August 2, Oakland finally claimed sole possession of the Wild Card. But it has been an uphill battle for them all season.
At the All-Star Break, the Athletics were three games back of Seattle for the second AL Wild Card spot and eight games back of Houston for the division. Speaking of Houston, the A's have had a not so good track record against the defending champs as they are just 5-9 against the Astros. One of those losses came in Houston after a Walk-Off that ended in controversy with Alex Bregman hitting a walk-off swinging bunt that was strike three but the Oakland catcher mishandled the tag of Bregman which resulted in a throwing error to first base which scored the winning run for the Astros. While it did result in heartbreak back then, the two squads would meet again for a series in mid-August at O.Co that would decide the fate of the AL West; and the A's got their payback.
The game was 3-2 Astros when Ramon Laureano was originally called out at home but after a review, the umpirs overturned it to safe to tie the game at three. Then came extra innings where the Oakland Athletics' unlikely hero in Matt Olson hit his first career Walk-Off home run to give the Astros a 4-3 10 inning victory. With that win and the one currently going on as of the time of writing this blog, both the A's ad Astros are in a virtual deadlock for the AL West with the exact same record of 74-49.
August has been Oakland's month ever since they took the second AL Wild Card from the Mariners. The Athletics have managed to win 11 of their last 14 games in the month of August and they also have one of the best post-All Star Break records as they are 18-7 since the All-Star Break. And if that was not enough, most of their success has come from their All-Star caliber infield and outfield in Matt Chapman, Jed Lowrie, Marcus Semien, Stephen Piscotty, Ramon Laureano, and the home run leader since the All-Star Break, Khris Davis. Ever since the Athletics' rise in power in the AL West, division rival Seattle Mariners have been stumbling as of recently as they are now 4 games behind Oakland for the second AL Wild Card. If Oakland keeps playing like they're playing right now, I am not afraid to say that they quite possibly might meet Boston for a chance at the AL pennant. You heard it here first folks. Oakland. ALCS.
As for remaining games against AL West contenders this seasons, The A's will look for the sweep in Oakland tomorrow to take sole possession of the division for the first time this season and then they have the season finale against the Astros in Houston August 27-29 then they will travel back home for a series against the Mariners right after that to begin the final month of baseball. The final series between the A's and Mariners will be the first three games of their final six game road trip to end the season. But by then, will we see the Oakland Athletics covered in hats, shirts, and champagne on the road to October for the first time in four years.
If you go back to the blog I wrote about the Mariners' Postseason chances this year and how they were going to end their drought and told me back then that the Athletics actually had a chance to capture the Wild Card let alone the AL West title, I would have told you that you were crazy. Boy, did I not see this coming. The A's magical season this year has been nothing short of unbelievable or even The Impossible Dream of the 1967 Red Sox, 1969 Mets, and the 1988 Dodgers, two of those which won the World Series. If Oakland does make it to the 2018 Postseason and ALDS, this is a team that fans can't resist to root for because of their underdog story and how they overcame obstacles from years prior in the form of three straight losing seasons to get to this point.
This Oakland Athletics' squad is surely to be not only baseball's feel good story of the year, but also one of baseball's hottest teams that elite squads like the Red Sox, Cubs, and Indians should be scared and worried about as we head closer into September and October. Having the A's in the Postseason this year (especially if they end up being AL West champions), would make other clubs not just in the American League but also in the NL feared for their life thanks to Oakland bolstered lineup which could surprise some people in October.
The Oakland Athletics have not been the best team in the AL West over the past couple of seasons, and this year seemed to be no exception. But as the All-Star Break passed, Oakland has become one of the AL's and baseball's hottest teams with Postseason and even division aspirations heavily on their minds. They have given reason to silence their critics and hush up all the doubters and nay-sayers. This is why underdogs like the A's have been so powerful and underrated; because they never give up throughout the season, even if they are given large amounts of adversity.
The 2018 Oakland Athletics have proven to themselves and the rest of Major League Baseball that they have what it takes to make it and compete in the 2018 Postseason. And if they keep playing like their are right now, the rest of the MLB should watch out and not sleep on these guys.
The A's are for real this year, and they're out to prove everyone right in the form of an AL West crown.