Sunday, September 16, 2012


There was something particularly satisfying about the random (OK, the title says "accidental," but random is really a better word for it...) scheduling quirk that pitted the two teams that no one expected to in the playoff hunt against each other late in the regular season.

Of course, these are the two "vowel" teams, the A's and the O's. One team left for dead due to fire sale tactics in the offseason, and the other consigned to its customary doormat role.

What do the two teams have in common? Not much. They both have excellent bullpens that have supplied most of their overall won-loss advantage in 2012 (Oakland 24-11, 2.86; Baltimore 28-10, 3.09). And they've both played extremely well against the AL East (A's 27-16; O's 35-24).

They've both done extremely well in extra-inning games (O's 13-2, A's 9-3).

Both teams have 16 games remaining, but the quality of competition is quite different. The O's play the M's next (they've handled them well so far in '12: 5-1), followed by 13 more games against the AL East (six against the Red Sox, four against the Jays, and the last three games of the season vs. the Rays in Tampa).

The A's have seven games left with Texas (they are 6-6 vs. the Rangers thus far), including the last three of the year at home. We will be there for game 162, but it probably won't be a game in which the division title is at stake, since the A's also have six games left against the Tigers and the Yankees on the road in front of their four games in Texas.

It just might come down to a fight for the final playoff slot for these two...or Cinderella may have to part with both her slippers.