I haven't actually watched an A's game in well over a week. Several of the games on their current road trip weren't televised, and I was busy during the others.
I feel somewhat disconnected from the team right now. Who are these guys?
I did go back on MLB.tv and watch the interesting innings from Monday's game against Toronto, where they came back from an 8-0 deficit to win 12-10. That game left me with the feeling that perhaps the best way to characterize the 2006 A's is that they're a gang of thieves.
The A's had no business winning that game, but somehow they managed to sneak their way in the back door and burglarize a W out of it. This year, it seems like there are a lot more games that the A's have won that they shoulda-coulda lost than the other way around.
The stats back me up on that one: they're currently 18 games over .500 at 73-55, but their record in BP's adjusted standings indicates they really should have a record of about 65-63 or 64-64.
Which explains why, I suppose, that even though the A's have the second-largest division lead in baseball, their 5.5 game lead over the Angels feels so insecure. Thievin' may be a thrillin' way to live, but in the back of your mind there's always the fear that sooner or later, your thievin' ways are going to be exposed, and you'll be revealed for the fraud you really are.
Part of the A's thievery involves fortunate scheduling. They finished playing the Yankees before they acquired Bobby Abreu, and started playing the Red Sox just as they started falling apart. They missed Roy Halladay this week in Toronto. They missed both John Lackey and Jered Weaver the last time they played Anaheim. And would the A's be 15-1 against Seattle if the rotations had fallen so that they had faced Felix Hernandez five times and Joel Pineiro once, instead of the other way around?
That luck may soon run out, though. If the Angels are going to make a run at Oakland, next week might be the time. They'll play three games against the hapless-and-losing-more-hap-by-the-hour Mariners, while the A's are staring down both Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling. Also, Tim Wakefield may be ready come off the DL to face the A's, as well. So much of streakiness is in the scheduling.
This weekend's Oakland-Texas series is a true battle of top heavyweights. The top two teams in the MLB Heavyweight Championship standings (see sidebar) are battling it out for baseball supremacy in Arlington.
With their victory over Tampa Bay on Thursday, the Rangers had pulled ahead of the A's in the standings. But Barry Zito's near no-hitter against Texas on Friday not only gave him his 100th career victory, it also put the A's back into first place.
Sunday's game (Dan Haren vs. Vicente Padilla) may be the Fight of the Year. The winner will have a big step up in the battle for Heavyweight Team of the Year.