Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 12:49 PM
That’s right, the Oakland A’s head into tonight’s start of a four-game set with the New York Yankees enjoying the best July record in baseball! Oakland is 10-2 this month, while the Yanks are right behind them with a 10-4 record
And, it’s not like Oakland is beating up on a bunch of nobodies. It would be one thing to go 10-2 in Interleague play against the likes of San Diego, Colorado, or Houston. Oakland is playing well against a relatively balanced schedule.
OAKLAND IN JULY
1-0 at Texas (road victory kicks off the month)
3-0 vs. Boston (loaded roster)
2-1 vs. Seattle (well, not ALL of the opponents matter)
3-0 at Minnesota
1-1 vs. Texas (splitting with a superpower)
That’s 2-1 vs. Texas…a popular pick to win the American League this year…3-0 vs. Boston…a team many statheads and pundits are still expecting to reach the playoffs…3-0 on the road at Minnesota…a team that’s been .500 caliber the past six weeks or so even though they started the year horribly…and 2-1 vs. Seattle.
If the July schedule only featured opponents like Minnesota and Seattle, you could probably take this run with a grain of salt. But, 5-1 vs. Texas and Boston?! Coming on the heels of an 11-7 run before that? Oakland is starting to make a very good case that they could be a Wildcard darkhorse down the stretch.
THE BATTLE FOR THE 5TH AND FINAL PLAYOFF SPOT
Tampa Bay 47-45
Those are the standings heading into Thursday action. If you assume that Texas and the LA Angels are going to pick up two spots from the AL West (a division winner and the first Wildcard), then these six teams will be in a steal cage match for the final invitation (after the East and Central champs are seated at the table). Who’s to say Oakland isn’t the best nominee of the bunch to survive?
*They’re a young team…which may be a positive this year because so many veterans are getting injured! In the post-steroid era, younger teams may be better positioned to close the season well because they can handle wear-and-tear fatigue.
*They’ve got pitchers they trust, which is more than Detroit or Baltimore can say (outside of Verlander).
*They’ve got great chemistry, which you’ve seen during the celebrations of recent walk-off wins. Boston may have talent, but the clubhouse isn’t yet on the same page.
*Tampa Bay is supposed to be a serious threat…but the Rays have been half-heartedly treading water for so long that it’s hard to be optimistic. Everyone’s been expecting them to get things rolling for weeks. Is it ever going to happen?
Of course…going 1-3 or 0-4 at home against the Yankees would be a punch to the gut that could drop the A’s immediately off the list. Oakland’s swagger could be gone by Monday. And, then you just have a young team that questions itself rather than hotshots who believe they can do anything.
Here are the pitching matchups for the four-game set:
Tonight: Garcia vs. Griffin
Friday: Nova vs. Milone
Saturday: Hughes vs. Parker
Sunday: Sabathia vs. Colon
You probably know all about the Yankees. They’re on TV all the time. We discuss them a lot here at the website because they play in so many high profile series. It’s time for you go get to know the Oakland A’s! If you’re thinking to yourself, “Griffin and Milone, who the heck are they?” then it’s time to start researching the hottest team in baseball
The hottest handicappers in Vegas are ready to get you the best plays on the board. Be sure you take care of business early Thursday because of the busy daytime schedule.
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If you’re reading this after most of the games have started…then check out the early-bird football rates on the “buy picks” pulldown page. We’re just a couple of weeks away from the start of the NFL Preseason. Whether you’re talking baseball or football, hot handicappers are always waiting to hear from you!