Forget the wild card. The way the Oakland Athletics are playing, they just might steamroll to the top of the AL West.
Baseball’s hottest team will try to build on its best July in over 30 years when the A’s open a four-game series with the struggling Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome.
Oakland, which will enter August with a 1 1/2 -game lead over the New York Yankees for the AL wild card, has crawled within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Los Angeles Angels in the West by winning 31 of its last 38 games.
The A’s completed a three-game sweep of Detroit with Sunday’s 5-2 win, their 11th victory in 12 games and 20th win in July—matching the 1974 team for the most victories in the month in Oakland history.
Jay Payton hit his fifth homer since joining the A’s from Boston at the All-Star break as Oakland took full advantage of the Angels dropping two of three to the Yankees over the weekend.
The A’s, who made four straight playoff appearances before losing the AL West to the Angels during the final weekend of last season, were 15 games below .500 on May 29. They began their turnaround with a three-game sweep of Tampa in the next series, and haven’t looked back since.
The Twins, winners of three straight AL Central titles, are 3 1/2 games behind Oakland for the wild card entering this series. Minnesota, which is 14 and a half games back of the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox, suffered a three-game sweep in Boston over the weekend and has dropped four straight overall.