If someone had told the Oakland Athletics they would win three games on this seven-game road trip through Baltimore and Detroit, most likely everyone would have been good with that under the circumstances.
And with two games left in Detroit against the American League Central-leading Tigers, that's right where the A's are: three wins in five games and a chance for more.
Plus, Oakland welcomes starting pitcher Brett Anderson back to the roster today as well as they face the Tigers at 4:08 p.m. PT today, although with the lefty's injury history, it's not clear how much he may actually be able to help the team.
The team reportedly will welcome back Bartolo Colon on Thursday, as well.
But after scuffling in two losses against the Orioles in Baltimore over the weekend, the A's have rebounded to beat Detroit twice in a row -- including last night's rain-shortened win over Justin Verlander -- to get off the proverbial mat and restore some life to their October aspirations.
Oakland still sits 2.5 games out of first place in the AL West division, and yet they are just one half-game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL's top wild-card spot while holding a three-game edge over the Cleveland Indians for the last postseason spot in the league playoff chase.
Tonight, Dan Straily (6-7, 4.56 ERA) takes the mound for the A's against Doug Fister (11-6, 3.54 ERA) for the Tigers. Oakland has struggled since the All-Star break, going just 18-18 since mid-July, and Straily has been worse: the young righty is 0-5 with a 5.20 ERA in seven starts this half.
That's why it was so key to get wins on Monday and Tuesday nights behind A.J. Griffin and Tommy Milone, respectively, as both those pitchers have been struggling lately as well.
On Monday, Griffin gave up two more home runs in the 8-6 win over Detroit, but the A's offense responded with 12 hits, eight walks and a .333 average with runners in scoring position -- although Oakland still left 11 men on base in this game, despite going 5-for-15 in those situations.
Coco Crisp had three hits and two RBI to lead the lineup, while newly-recalled Daric Barton also added two RBI to the victorious ledger.
Griffin has now surrendered an MLB-worst 32 home runs this year, but somehow, his stat line maintains some respectability: 11-9 record and a 3.94 ERA.
Tuesday night's "shorty" saw Milone record his tenth win of the year, while the A's took it to Verlander in a way they could not last October in the AL Division Series: Oakland scored five runs off the Cy Young winner in five innings, forcing him to throw 104 pitches in the process.
Jed Lowrie had a two-run double in the first, and Brandon Moss added a two-run homer in the fifth to lead the A's, while Milone gave up three runs in the first himself but then settled down to retire 12 of the last 14 batters he faced on his way to the "complete-game" win.
As for Anderson and Colon returning to the fold, it couldn't come at a better time. Straily, Griffin and Milone have all been struggling this summer, and Anderson actually replaces Milone on the 25-man roster for now.
But Anderson was just 1-4 with a 6.21 ERA in six games this season, five starts, when he was placed on the 15-day DL May 1 with a sprained right ankle. He made three rehab starts in the minors and was a combined 0-2 with a 12.54 ERA. Anderson also has missed 399 games over the last four years.
He has pitched in just 44 games, including 43 starts, over that time due to five stints on the DL.