Slap Hitter: A's Ready for Year's Biggest Game



Trevordactyl! The Oakland A's are alone in second place after starting pitcher Trevor Cahill, who carries a few extra pounds and the aforementioned nickname, threw two hits in eight innings at the team dead ahead in the standings, and the Athletics hit the sheets, 7 1/2 games out of first place.

The last game in the series takes place Thursday night in Texas, and if the A's have one more stellar starting pitching performance left in the tank, tomorrow would be the day to haul it out. Vin Mazzaro, who was probably the team's number 7 starter when the season began (and he was a Sacramento River Cat) has the chance to get the A's closer to the top than they have been all month.

If the team can take two of three from the Rangers, after taking the set from the Chicago White Sox, and before that the Boston Red Sox, and before that the Kansas City Royals and before that the L.A. Angels, it may be time to get officially excited. As opposed to the excitement that those of us long since bit by the baseball bug carry with us until the day of mathematical elimination.

If the A's win tomorrow, August baseball will not be in vein. It will mean that the A's will play meaningful baseball well into college football season. And it will be time to believe that the young pitching staff is for real. Brett Anderson returns Friday after months of injury time, and Ben Sheets is through for the year, which means it will be more Mazzaro than anybody could have predicted when the year began. It is also a better and more interesting A's team than anyone could have predicted.

Today, catcher Kurt Suzuki crashed another home run, drove in more than half of the team's runs and stole a base, and directed a dynamite pitching performance, without ace closer Andrew Bailey. Lefty specialist and Yale grad, Craig Breslow shut down Texas with brawn more than brains tonight, gunning six fastballs past the last two Texas batters for his first save of the season.

With a Thursday win, the A's will be road warriors, and plant in seed for the rest of the league that says, we aren't going away. With a series win, actually, we're gaining on you.