30 days have made a 12-game difference …
For further proof on the sheer unpredictability of baseball, look no further than what has transpired between the A’s and Angels since the end of July.
The A’s had already beefed up their rotation by acquiring Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, then took a step further by adding Jon Lester on July 31 — at a time when they held a two-game cushion in the division — because they wanted to make sure their season didn’t come down to a one-game playoff. The Angels added no such starting pitcher to a staff that was already at a disadvantage, then suffered a couple of crippling injuries to said rotation, with Tyler Skaggs succumbing to Tommy John surgery on Aug. 10 (an injury that predated to July 31) and Garrett Richards suffering a season-ending torn patellar tendon on Aug. 20.
On Aug. 10, the Angels trailed the A’s by four games.
Since then, they’ve picked up 12 games in the AL West standings, and now they have a firm grip on the division, leading the A’s by a whopping eight games with only 19 left to play.
With a deep bullpen, an offense that seems to be coming on strong once again and a rotation that uses a concoction of relievers in Richards’ spot every five days, the Angels have reeled off five straight victories and won 11 of their last 13 games. The A’s, struggling mightily offensively since trading their cleanup hitter, Yoenis Cespedes, to acquire Lester, have dropped nine of their last 11, including four in a row at Angel Stadium.
Here’s a look at how both teams have fared in a few categories over that 30-day stretch, with their Major League rankings in parenthesis …
Angels: 20-7 (1st)
A’s: 8-19 (T-29th)
Angels: 4.8 (7th)
A’s: 1.6 (22nd)
Angels: 3.19 (7th)
A’s: 4.24 (23rd)
Angels: 1.10 (5th)
A’s: 1.09 (3rd)
Angels: 5.11 (4th)
A’s: 3.41 (24th)
Angels: .735 (9th)
A’s: .633 (25th)
The A’s conclude their seven-game road trip this week, with three in Chicago followed by three in Seattle over the weekend. They then have a nine-game homestand against the Rangers, Phillies and Angels, then finish on the road with four in Arlington, a prime opportunity to pick up some games at the end.
The Angels are finishing their 10-game road trip this week, with three in Arlington, then have a 10-game homestand against the Astros, Mariners (four games) and Rangers. Their season ends with a six-game road trip through Oakland and Seattle, with an off day sandwiched between the two series.