A’s, Rangers take it all the way to 162

OAKLAND — It will take 162 games this season to decide who will win the American League West crown.

Can you believe it?  Nobody but the A’s players did when they began the season in Spring Training back in February.

Oakland took the lead for good Tuesday night with a two-run single from Derek Norris in the fifth inning after a single by Josh Donaldson and a double by Brandon Moss put runners at second and third.  The A’s got some insurance with a home run by Jonny Gomes in the 7th as the A’s defeated the Rangers 3-1.

So, after 161 games, the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics are tied with records of 93-68.   If the A’s should beat the Rangers and take the AL West, they’d become only the fifth team in baseball history to overcome a 13-game deficit.  Oakland was 13-games behind first place on June 30.

The four other teams:

  • The miracle 1914 Boston Braves.
  • The 1951 New York Giants, thanks to the game winning 3-run homer from Bobby Thomson, arguably the most famous in the game’s history.
  • The 1978 Yankees — who could forget Bucky Dent’s 3-run homer over the green monster at Fenway.
  • And the 1995 Mariners, who got a clutch two-run double from Edgar Martinez to score Ken Griffey Jr. for the winning run.

Before the game, Gomes won the Jim “Catfish Hunter” Award, given to the player who best exemplifies the courageous, competitive and inspirational spirit demonstrated by the late Hall of Fame pitcher on and off the field.

What heroics await the A’s in their season finale, Jonny Gomes?

“It would take a rabbit out of a hat to put any pressure on this ballclub. We’re playing with house money.  If you sit down at the blackjack table and somebody gives you 20 grand you’re going to play a little rambunctious.  We’re playing with house money now so we’ll see.”

Travis Blackley was atrocious in his previous two starts on the A’s last road trip.  In his last outing at Texas, he was shelled for five runs in one inning pitched. This time, he went six frames, giving up three hits and just one run, while striking out five for the biggest win of his career:

“I just reminded myself I’m here for a reason.  I got here because I earned my way onto (the roster) it and said to trust my stuff and went out there and went out there like I had nothing to lose.”

With one game left for all the marbles, A’s manager Bob Melvin said it best:

“You’ll see two teams go after it pretty hard tomorrow.  We’ve gone on a nice run to get back into this position and it’s a good feeling right now but again, tomorrow’s a big game and no advantages going into it.”