Leading Off

Leading Off: A’s, Giants look to regain midseason form

While the baseball playoffs in cities such as Baltimore, Anaheim, Washington and Los Angeles may seem like a second season, for the A’s and Giants, the postseason must feel like a second chance.

A second chance to make things right again. A second chance to prove to the baseball world – and themselves – that they are better than the teams that crossed the regular-season finish line gasping for air and lucky to play at least one more day as wild-card road teams.

It’s a far cry from the middle weeks of June, when it appeared the Giants and A’s were streaking toward the home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

On June 8, the Giants seemingly were the best team in baseball with a 43-21 record and a 10-game lead over the Dodgers after winning 15 of 18.

On June 21, the A’s were on top of the major-league standings with a 47-28 record and a six-game lead over the Angels after winning 15 of 21.

Then things unraveled, with both teams finishing second in their division at 88-74.

The Giants suffered numerous key injuries, while the A’s clubhouse chemistry obviously worsened after cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes was traded to Boston for ace Jon Lester.

Both teams say the past is past and all that matters is winning their road games to advance to their division series.

But can both recapture the warmth of June in the chilly air on the road in the fall?

– Victor Contreras


What to watch

A.L. wild card, A’s at Royals, 5:07 p.m., TBS: A’s general manager Billy Beane traded for Lester to pitch in big postseason games, but a wild-card do or die?

Today’s poll

Weekend poll results

How many Republic FC matches have you attended this season?

• All of them, including friendlies and playoffs: 7%

• More than 15: 4%

• 10-14: 3%

• 5-9: 4%

• Fewer than five: 15%

• None: 67%

Total votes: 395