They sure don't.
The A's were 72-44 on August 9 and rolling. Today, they're just 79-60, wondering what happened to all the momentum they'd built up over 4.5 months of great baseball.
And after yet another loss to Felix Hernandez yesterday, Oakland missed two straight chances to gain ground on the Los Angeles Angels—losing by one run both times to the Mariners.
Not a recipe for success in September.
That 19-20 record in one-run games is killing the A's in 2014, too: the last two years combined, the team posted a 55-38 record in those kinds of close games. Oakland owned the close ones, so to speak.
Not any more.
Maybe they're tired, maybe they're injured, maybe they're just not that good.
All we know is this: the A's are 13-19 since they traded away Yoenis Cespedes, and even though his numbers for Oakland weren't that impressive this season (.767 OPS), clearly something is missing from this team.
They are just 23 games left in the regular season. The A's still control their own destiny: Oakland has a three-game lead over the Detroit Tigers (76-63) in the race for the top wild-card spot. The Mariners (75-63) are a half game behind the Tigers.
Here's the A's remaining schedule and what they need to do to make the American League playoffs for the third straight season:
- Three home games against the Houston Astros (61-79). The A's are 10-6 against their division foes this season, and they could really use a sweep this weekend. This is their final series against Houston;
- Four road games against the Chicago White Sox (63-76). Along with the Astros games, these are seven games against inferior competition the A's need to be winning. Maybe asking them to win all four on the road is a stretch, but Oakland could really use three wins on the South Side;
- Three road games against Seattle. The A's are just 7-9 against the Mariners this year, and this is the final series between the two division rivals gunning for a playoff spot. In case of tiebreakers, too, it would be great for Oakland to sweep this series, but even if they win just one game in Seattle, that might be enough;
- Three homes games against the Texas Rangers (53-86) to kick off a nine-game home stand that could make or break the season for the A's. The Rangers have the worst record in baseball, and Oakland is at home. A sweep is necessary here;
- Three home games against the Philadelphia Phillies (64-75). The Phils aren't good; another sweep almost is necessary here;
- Three home games against the Los Angeles Angels (83-55), the final three against the AL West division leaders. Depending on what the standings are here, these games could be huge. Winning this series is an absolute must, no excuses;
- Four road games to end the season in Texas. Winning all four could be necessary.
Oakland has just six games left against winning teams on their schedule. The situation is prime for a strong run to October. If they can win—based on the above conjecture—19 of their last 23 games, that would give the A's a 98-64 record, which would be an improvement on the last two seasons, for sure.
Is that asking a lot of a team that's been so bad for the last three-plus weeks? Yes.
Is it possible? Yes.
It's baseball. Anything is possible.