August 27, 2002

Streaking A's

About a week and a half ago I decided that I would root for the Seattle Mariners to win the AL West.

As a Twins fan my reason for this, at the time, was very simple...

I figured the Yankees would finish with the best record in the AL and win the AL East.

I figured the Twins would win the AL Central.

I figured the two other playoffs teams would come out of the AL West.

So, in that scenario, the Yankees would play the Wild Card winner and the Twins (my team) would play the AL West winner.

I was pretty confident in the Twins' chances of beating the Mariners (as they did tonight, 5-2) in a 5 game series.

But mostly, I wanted no part of the Oakland A's.

Turns out I didn't know how right I was.

Oakland has now won 14 games in a row, and have taken a 3 game lead over Anaheim and a 3.5 game lead over Seattle in the AL West.

So much for the A's getting the Wild Card and avoiding the Twins (or more correctly the Twins avoiding them) in the first round of the playoffs.

Here are the the win-loss records for Oakland pitchers during the streak:

Barry Zito 3-0

Tim Hudson 3-0

Mark Mulder 3-0

Cory Lidle 3-0

Aaron Harang 1-0

Jim Mecir 1-0

14 straight wins and only one win by a relief pitcher.

And the Big 4 are each 3-0.

Here are the combined totals for the Oakland starting pitchers during the streak:

GS Inn. ERA. W. L K/9 W/9 H/9

14 99.2 2.25 13 0 5.4 1.9 6.2

Now that is getting it done.

Only once has a starter failed to go at least 5 innings (not so coincidently the one game that a starter did not get the win).

Only once has a starter allowed more than 4 runs (again, in the one game that the starter didn't get the win).

The pitcher in the game that the starter did not get the win? Aaron Harang.

However, in the playoffs, teams are going to be seeing a steady diet of the Big 4 (mostly the Big 3 with a little Cory Lidle mixed in).

Here are the totals from each of the Big 4 during the streak:


G Inn. ERA. W L K/9 W/9 H/9

3 20.2 1.74 3 0 7.4 2.6 5.2


G Inn. ERA. W L K/9 W/9 H/9

3 24.2 1.82 3 0 5.5 0.7 7.7


G Inn. ERA. W L K/9 W/9 H/9

3 22.2 3.17 3 0 4.4 0.8 6.7


G Inn. ERA. W L K/9 W/9 H/9

3 23.0 0.00 3 0 4.7 1.6 3.5

The A's are looking pretty good heading down the stretch, as far as pitching goes.

I would assume that the A's rotation for the opening round of the playoffs would be:

Zito - Hudson - Mulder - Lidle - Zito

With the Twins' lefty dominated lineup (Jones, Koskie, Ortiz, Mientkiewicz, Pierzynski) I am having nightmares about facing Zito twice and Mulder once in a 5 game series.

At this point, as a Twins fan, I think I would rather play the Yankees in round 1 (as strange as that sounds).

The problem is, even if the A's continue to stay hot and overtake the Yankees for the top spot in the AL, the Twins will still be stuck playing Oakland in round 1.

You see, if the A's finish with the top record in the league they would play the Wild Card, unless the Wild Card comes from their division (which it would if Seattle or Anaheim wins it), in which case they would play the #3 team.

And you guessed it, that would be the Twins.

So really, instead of rooting for Seattle to win the AL West (thus making it NY/OAK and SEA/MN in round 1) I would probably be better off rooting for Boston to beat out Seattle and Anaheim for the Wild Card (thus making it NY/MN and OAK/BOS in round 1).

I have waited 10 years for the Twins to make the playoffs again and I've had to deal with all of the contraction talk and the stadium crap and all I wanted in return was for the Twins to play the Mariners in the opening round of the playoffs.

Is that so much to ask for? Apparently.

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