By Jason Wojciechowski on June 24, 2004 at 4:56 PM
For the first time in recent memory, the A's appear to be having some clubhouse issues. There were two team meetings yesterday, one with Ken Macha and one without, to try to clear up this thing about the starters vs. the bullpen. I think they should just play some paintball to see who the bigger man is. That's what's at stake, after all, isn't it? That's the conclusion I come to after reading Arthur Rhodes's comments yesterday.
Anyway, the A's played a game yesterday, and finally won. It was a nice solid victory, too, as Mark Redman went a strong seven and a third innings, giving up just a third inning run, and Chad Bradford and Jim Mecir closed the win out from there, with the final tally being 7-1.
Oakland again showed a total lack of power, managing just three doubles and eight singles, but their five walks combined with those eleven hits (and one Anaheim error) were enough to give Oakland plenty of runs. Mark Kotsay continued to hit well, with three singles, and Erubiel Durazo continued to get on base, with a single and two walks, but there was little individual offensive excitement, which you'd expect me to say after an eight-single game.
The win pushed the A's back to a half game ahead of the Angels (tied in wins, one less loss) and a game behind Texas (tied in wins, two more losses), so this is a tight division right now. It's fun, especially when the West teams are playing each other, because every day results in a shift in the standings. Yesterday saw the A's drop from first to third, and the other two teams move up a spot each, and now Oakland is back to second. A win tomorrow coupled with a Texas loss would create a virtual tie for first, while a loss would drop Oakland to third place, regardless of what Texas does.
Let's see what the standings looked like on this date for the past four years, the A's playoff years:
So what we see is that this is the tightest race we've seen yet, largely due to the fact that there's no completely incompetent Texas team already 22 games back. The three leading teams are also not doing as well as the leaders in the previous four years were, but there's some mixing up of causation here: all three teams' actual quality may be on level with the leaders of the past four years, but since there's less of a patsy in the division and all three teams seem to be pretty close in quality, they're going to beat up on each other and run each other's records down.
This year's is exactly the kind of standings table Boston wants to see so they can run away with the wild card while the three Western teams beat up on each other for one playoff spot.