As the calendar speeds toward August, the A's have their eyes set on playing more than one October baseball game this year.
With a roster that has minimal postseason baseball experience, any taste of playoff intensity can be beneficial for Bob Melvin's club, and Oakland got a little dose of it over the weekend in Minnesota.
The AL Central-leading Twins and A's dueled it out in a four-game slobber-knocker that concluded with Max Kepler's walk-off single Sunday afternoon, giving the Twins a 7-6 win and series split against the A's.
It was a series that had a serious playoff feel to it, with neither team refusing to give in.
On Saturday, the A's stunned the Twins on Khris Davis' two-out, two-run single in the top of the ninth, giving the A's a 5-4 win. The Twins returned the favor Sunday when Luis Arraez singled off All-Star closer Liam Hendriks and scored on a triple by Ehire Adrianza to tie the game at six. After Hendriks struck out Jason Castro for the second out, Kepler roped a single into left-center field and the party was on at Target Field.
The A's leave Minnesota at 57-43, one game ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second AL wild-card spot. The Twins currently lead the Cleveland Indians by three games in the AL Central and appear primed to make a return to October baseball.
An October return to Target Field certainly isn't out of the question for the A's, and this series helped give the A's another sense of what awaits them in the playoffs should they continue on their current trajectory.
Last season, the A's walked into the AL Wild Card Game against the New York Yankees and looked overwhelmed by the stage en route a season-ending 7-2 loss at Yankee Stadium. After getting a taste of playoff baseball last year, the A's are hoping to make a deeper October run this season.
They got another taste of playoff-like intensity over the weekend against a team they could see in October, and it can only benefit them as the dog days of summer turn into tense fall nights.