Tommy Milone, who has struggled this year against the Texas Rangers to say the least, stepped up to the mound with less than an hour notice after Jarrod Parker was diagnosed with a stomach virus, and he flat out performed. Milone threw 5 innings with 5 strike outs and allowed only 1 run before giving it up to the bullpen. This performance along with 3 key home runs has cut the Oakland A’s magic number to 8 which seem so much closer.
Yoenis Cespedes was also scratched from the line up for Sunday’s game but they didn’t seem to notice because since mid-August Oakland has led the majors in home runs, which is unusual for a team who doesn’t have a single guy over 30 home runs and only one over 25. It’s all about consistency at the plate and if one guy can’t get it done that night, someone else will.
Recently the A’s lineup has consisted of about 15 regulars that are changed around all during the game to put themselves in position to win. If there is a left-handed pitcher up, then Nate Freiman will play first until they put a righty in for relief, and Brandon Moss will step up. Or any of the regular outfielders will fill in for Coco Crisp so he can be the DH and rest his legs or pinch hit later in the game. They play without being selfish which is much easier to do when one player doesn’t make 20 million dollars. They all knew what they signed up for and that was to win.
The A’s will now have to go home for a 7 game home stand against the underperforming Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins, while Texas has a 7 game road trip against the wild card leading Tampa Bay Rays and the hungry Kansas City Royals. Although the A’s magic number is 8, it doesn’t mean they have to win 8 games. If the A’s and Rangers both go 4-3 this week, Oakland’s magic number becomes 1. The A’s have all but surely won the west, so their goal now may be to pass the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the league, while the rangers will have to fight off 5 hungry competitors to play past October.