Look at this pennant race in the American League West! The Houston Astros completed a sweep against the Detroit Tigers and the A’s swept the Baltimore Orioles. The A’s are 3 games out of first place in this amazing race. Winning eight out of ten games in September, they A’s have lost a game in the standings as the Astros have won nine out of ten. Amazing baseball played by both teams.
The numbers and the great baseball reminds me of the 1993 battle between the Giants and Braves. The Braves were in the 1991 & 1992 World Series and much like the World Champion Astros were the established team. The Giants, four years removed from their 1989 World Series appearance were a force to be reckoned with as they brought Barry Bonds in to join legends Will Clark, Robbie Thompson, and Matt Williams. They also had outstanding pitching with Bill Swift and John Burkett each winning over 20 games. Rod Beck was money as a closer, saving 48 games. The Braves had the pitching staff of the ages with three future Hall of Famers, Greg Maddox, Tom Glavin, and John Smoltz. Steve Avery also contributed 18 wins. While some say the Giants, who led the division for most of the year collapsed, the Braves took the Western Division by becoming unbeatable in the second half of the year. The turning point was the acquisition of Fred McGriff. September began with the Giants & Braves splitting two head to head games in September and then the Braves won 22 out of the last 30 games. The Giants won a very respectable 18 out of the last 31. It was a battle to the last day when the Braves, won their 104th game against Colorado and the Giants lost to the Dodgers ending their season with 103 wins.
There was little satisfaction and carryover from the 103 win year. There was no Wild Card spot, and that would be the last game Will Clark and Robbie Thompson played in a Giant uniform. Worse yet, baseball went on strike in 1994. Matt Williams was traded before the 1997 season bringing Jeff Kent and others to the Giants establishing a new era of winning. The new Pac Bell Park opened in 2000.
The last thing the experts expected going into 2018 was the Oakland A’s giving the Astros a challenge. Slugger Kris Davis has 41 home runs and four players; Matt Olsen, Stephen Pischotty, Matt Chapman, and Jed Lowrey have over 20! The pitching highlights have been a no-hitter by Sean Manaea and a great bullpen led by Closer Blake Treinen and set-up man Lou Trivino. On the downside, the pitching staff has been riddled by injuries including Manaea who is currently on the Disabled List.
So what are the chances for the A’s in October? They proved they can beat anyone, including the Yankees and Red Sox. If they win in New York on October 3rd, they won’t have to travel far to take on the Red Sox. Wouldn’t it be great if they beat the Yankees and Red Sox and then got a head-to-head matchup with the Astros for a spot in the World Series?