OAKLAND — Take notice, Major League Baseball. The A's have declared themselves here to stay.
Despite Sunday's loss, Oakland finished off an impressive 4-2 week with series victories against both the Astros and Mariners, their top two competitors in the AL West.
Now with 38 games remaining, the A's sit at 74-50, just a game behind Houston for first place, and 3 1/2 games ahead of Seattle in the Wild Card race. It has become clear that Oakland will be in this division race until the very end.
“We've believed in ourselves since Spring Training, even when not a lot of people thought we should,” reliever Emilio Pagan said. “I think we made a statement coming out and taking the series against them, and Seattle, two really good teams. We feel good going forward.”
“Other teams know that we're good and we're a legit team,” added catcher Jonathan Lucroy. “They know that they have to have their best stuff to beat us.”
The A's have been the hottest team in baseball for more than two months now. Oakland is 40-14 in the last 54 games, a pretty significant sample size, signifying that this is not a fluke. The A's have proven they are one of the elite teams in the sport.
“I would definitely say we're very confident,” reliever Lou Trivino said. “Obviously it would have been nice to get the win here today, but as long as you can continue to win every series, that's really all you need to do. If we can continue to play like we're playing, we're definitely very confident.”
“I think it shows what kind of team we've got, the depth we've got, and how we play,” outfielder Nick Martini added.
The A's have also shown they can beat the league's other top teams. Oakland is 5-4 against the Red Sox and Yankees, who own the two best records in MLB. After losing eight in a row to the Astros, the A's have taken five of the last seven meetings.
“We're just a better team now,” said manager Bob Melvin. “Before, maybe we go out and hope to win those games against them, and now I think we go out and expect to win the games.”
And why shouldn't they? The A's have only lost one of their last 18 series. That type of consistency builds incredible confidence, even for a team lacking experience. This group knows they can compete with anyone in the league, even the defending World Series champions, and they won't settle for anything less than a division title.
It's now a 38-game sprint to the finish. Game on.