Last night's victory for the A's was a possible turning point for this road trip from hell. It was the first time on the trip that the A's did not drop the first two games of a series. In both Detroit and New York, the A's faced the added pressure of a possibly sweep before pulling out game three victories.
With the win, in light of another evening of complete futility for the Mariners in losing to the Angels, the A's avoided having their second Wild Card spot lead trimmed to one game on the Angels and set up today's match-up with current staff ace Jarrod Parker against the Rangers' Martin Perez giving them a chance to slice Texas' division lead to three games and guarantee at least a split in the four game series.
Meanwhile, In Anaheim the Angels face the M's best starter and one of the best pitchers in baseball in "King" Felix Hernandez. Even though, as Dave Schoenfield of ESPN reports, Hernandez hasn't really been dominating either the Angels or the A's lately, he still gives the A's a good chance to move three games above the Angels for the second Wild Card spot.
Darvish's next start is TBA. His turn is scheduled for this Sunday against the Angels. If he makes the start, it means the A's would not see him in the series at home against Texas to conclude the season. This is the best-case scenario. However, should the A's be charging hard for the division, would this alter Texas' calculus? The Rangers could set up Darvish to go on the last day of the season if the A's had a chance to win the division. The thinking here would clearly be that it was worth burning your number one starter to avoid the one-game Wild Card playoff. The downside for the Rangers, obviously, is if they were to lose that last game than they couldn't start Darvish in that winner-take-all Wild Card game.
Felix Hernandez, as mentioned, starts today against the Angels. His next turn, five days after today is against the Angels. This means the A's are poised to avoid Hernandez in their upcoming three game set in Oakland, instead getting Blake Beavan (10-10, 4.64 ERA) on Friday, Jason Vargas (14-11, 3.94 ERA) on Saturday and Erasmo Ramirez (1-3, 3.42 ERA) on Sunday.
Crazy, Just Plain Crazy!
ESPN's Jayson Stark detailed how things might work out in the AL if ties were to occur.
An interesting nugget from the New York Times to think about in light of transcontinental travel:
Even within the United States, traveling east over just three time zones can be taxing: a study led by Dr. Lawrence D. Recht, a neurologist, of 19 Major League Baseball teams using season records from 1991 to 1993 showed that the team that had just completed eastward travel would give up more than one run than usual in every game.
Update: You may recall a previous post regarding "radio only" games and lamenting the fact that tomorrow's day game against the Rangers was set to be one of them. In case you hadn't heard, SportsNet Reports has been bumped in favor of this critical matchup. Truly a no-brainer.