Bay Area Topics
Playoff scenarios for the A’s
The magic number for the Oakland Athletics to clinch a playoff spot sits at one. With one more victory (or a Mariners loss), the A’s make the big dance. Now, granted, they would still have to win a win-or-go-home game in order to get into the division series, but they’d be in the playoffs nonetheless. And that is what matters. Because once you’re in, anyone can win it.
Would it be nice to head into the playoffs hot, feeling like we can take down anyone? Of course. But look at the last couple of seasons for the A’s. Those are as good of proof as any that ending the season hot doesn’t guarantee postseason success.
The A’s played well enough throughout the entire season to get into the postseason (assuming they do get in). At that point, they, like any other team, have to hope they get hot. The last couple of months have been painful for A’s fans, for sure, but the season isn’t over yet. One more win, and they get in. One more win, and Lester takes the mound Tuesday night, with everything on the line. At that point, the A’s better hope they get hot. Until then, just get in.
Playoff scenarios for the Giants
It means that the Cardinals and Pirates will fight to the last day, Sunday, and maybe even Monday to settle the Central and the second wild card. That would force those teams to burn better pitchers Sunday and Monday, if a one-game playoff for the division is needed, and they would not be available to face the Giants in Wednesday’s wild-card game.
The Cardinals planned to start Adam Wainwright against Arizona all along Sunday, so he would not pitch against San Francisco if St. Louis falls into the wild card.
The Pirates’ scheduled starter in Cincinnati on Sunday is Gerrit Cole, against the Reds’ Johnny Cueto. Had the Cardinals clinched the division Saturday, the Pirates likely would have held Cole back for the wild-card game against the Giants. Now we must await word on whether Cole will go Sunday now that the Pirates still have a shot at the division. Manager Clint Hurdle has not tipped his hand.
Francisco Liriano, a left-hander, started for the Pirates in Saturday’s 10-6 loss to the Reds. He would have to face the Giants on short rest.
If Cole pitches Sunday or Monday, the Pirates might start right-hander Edinson Volquez against Madison Bumgarner and the Giants, who have faced the former Padre 11 times and have hit him to a 5.72 ERA.
But that is not set in stone.