Leading Off

Leading Off: Hold that thought about ALCS matchup

Hold that thought about ALCS matchup

Hours after the July 31 blockbuster trades in which the A’s traded slugger Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for ace Jon Lester and Tampa Bay sent ace David Price to the Tigers, we were dreaming of pitching matchups for the American League Championship Series between Oakland and Detroit.

Nearly three weeks later, we’re wondering if an A’s-Tigers postseason showdown might come a lot sooner in a winner-take-all A.L. wild-card playoff game.

Since that whirlwind Thursday afternoon of last-minute trading, the A’s have lost 10 of 17 games – five consecutive entering tonight’s game against the Mets – and their 21/2-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels. Detroit has lost nine of 14, and its four-game lead over Kansas City has become a two-game deficit.

Certainly, Lester has been a big boost for Oakland, winning his first three starts before losing to the Braves on Sunday. But those loud A’s bats have gone silent since Cespedes left town. With Cespedes, the A’s averaged five runs and one home run per game and had a .253 batting average. Without him, the A’s average 3.6 runs and 0.8 homers and are hitting .224.

But before we start thinking about a one-game playoff between the A’s and Tigers, we must keep an eye on the Seattle Mariners, who are third in the A.L. West and tied with Detroit in the wild-card race.

Oakland’s postseason fate could be determined by a one-game showdown against Seattle ace Felix “The King” Hernandez, who has a career 18-7 record and 2.63 ERA against the A’s.

What has been a dream season for the A’s could turn into a nightmare.

– Victor Contreras


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