It truly has been the wild, wild west in the American League this season. The AL West title is still up for grabs as the Oakland A's and Texas Rangers head into the regular season finale with identical 93-68 records. The winner of Wednesday afternoon's game will be the AL West Champion and advance to the AL Divisional Series. The losing team will earn a wild card spot and have to win one more game to advance to the ALDS.
The Oakland A's entered their recent 3-game series with Texas trailing the Rangers by two games. With a 4-3 victory on Monday and a 3-1 win on Tuesday, the A's have drawn even with Texas setting up a winner take all final game.
The A's have been one of the hottest teams in baseball the last couple months making an improbable run to clinch a playoff spot. On June 30th, the Oakland A's trailed the Texas Rangers by 13 games in the AL West, and now they have a chance to pass Texas on the final day of the season.
The A's send rookie A.J. Griffin to the mound in the pivotal game against the Rangers. Wednesday's game will be the 101st started by a rookie pitcher for Oakland this year. Griffin has been great for Oakland since being called up from Triple-A posting a 7-1 record and a 2.71 ERA. He faces Ryan Dempster who is 7-3 with a 4.64 ERA since coming over from the Cubs.
A game of this magnitude will surely carry a certain level of pressure for the players. However, I feel that the Rangers will be feeling the pressure more than the A's. Texas was supposed to win the AL West this year and was a preseason favorite to return to the World Series. The A's on the other hand were supposed to be rebuilding and nobody, except for the A's players, gave them a shot to make the playoffs this year. The A's also have the advantage of playing this game at home, in front of their fans. Oakland is a young team that plays loose and I don't think the added pressure of this game will affect them at all.
One team will be celebrating an AL West Title tomorrow in Oakland and this A's fan is hoping that the celebration will include "The Bernie."
*Daniel became an Oakland A's fan during the Bash Brothers era of the late 1980s. He has followed the A's and Major League Baseball for over 20 years. Daniel is currently a Featured Contributor on the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
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