This week, the A’s began their week-long Texas road-trip with a huge four game series against the first place Astros by showing their incredible resiliency and offensive potency. After getting blown out 15-0 in the first game of the series, the A’s rebounded yesterday by returning the favor annihilating the Astros 21-7. Every member of the A’s starting lineup got at least two hits and drove in at least one run. Winning by 14 runs after losing by 15 the night before set a major league record. With the series now tied a game a piece, the A’s must win tonight to at least earn a split of the four game set because their longtime nemesis Verlander will pitch for Houston tomorrow. With the win last night, the A’s continue to occupy that second wild card slot. However, they will need to keep winning the majority of their remaining games if they want to fend off the Indians and reach the postseason.
I predict that the A’s will finish the season as one of the two wild card teams and will not only play but beat either the Rays or the Indians in the wild-card game. The A’s have the players, coaches, mentality, and perseverance that is needed to make a deep run in these upcoming playoffs. However, their starting pitchers must continue to produce quality starts and some relievers in addition to Petit and Hendriks will need to emerge as consistent options if they are to get far in the playoffs. Sean Manaea is the team’s X factor right now given how dominant he has looked in his first two major league starts since coming back from shoulder surgery.
The A’s present is bright, but so is their future. Matt Olsen and Matt Chapman have emerged as two of the best players in baseball at their respective positions. This year, both have over 30 home-runs to go along with their excellent defensive play. They are under team control for 3-4 years to come and are prime candidates for extensions. Marcus Semien is another candidate for an extension given that the Bay Area native has firmly entrenched himself as the team’s leadoff hitter while having a career best season. Ramon Laureano has proven that last year was not a fluke, establishing himself as one of the core parts of the A’s offense as long as he can stay healthy. Sean Murphy, considered the A’s catcher of the future, is quickly becoming the A’s catcher of the present thanks to the huge impact he has had since coming up. In his very first start, he hit his first home-run and caught a shutout, and then last night he hit two of the A’s six home-runs.
On the pitching side of things, Manaea, Luzardo, and Puk along with Bassit and Montas could be a killer starting rotation if Luzardo and Puk can live up to their top prospect billing and Montas can show that he can still be good without using PEDs. As this blog has shown, now is a good time to be an A’s fan. So, in the words of the A’s TV announcer Dallas Braden, “Sit down and buckle up!” It promises to be a good ride to the end.