Texas 3, Oakland 1 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
Oakland 3, Texas 1 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
Texas 7, Oakland 4 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 51-50
Despite playing three close games with the AL West leading Rangers, the A's lost one or two more than they needed to in order to keep their remote playoff hopes within a dream's reach. Now, according to Baseball Prospectus, the A's odds of reaching the playoff sits between 1 and 5 percent. With the Rangers acquiring Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman, these low figures may even be overstating the A's chances.
Even though this series probably was the death knell for the A's postseason hopes, there were several promising performances that bode well for next season and beyond. First and foremost were the pitching performances of Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill. Gio managed to stay neck and neck with Cliff Lee for six innings, though he did struggle a bit with his pitch count. Gio's final line of 6 innings, 1 run, 8 baserunners, and 6 Ks was nice to see given that he was pitching in Texas, a place where A's starters always seem to wither. Trevor Cahill did even better, going eight innings while giving up only one run on two hits. He also struck out 4 and walked 3. Key to his success was getting groundballs; he got 13 in all and gave up just two line drives.
It really can't be said enough, the development of Gio and Cahill is the key to the A's ability to compete in the near future. A rotation that includes Brett Anderson, Gio, Cahill, and Dallas Braden gives the A's a strong core of talent on the mound.
And then there's the hitting. Eight runs in three games at Texas is simply not going to cut it. It's a pretty obvious sign that you're not actually a contender when Matt Carson and Matt Watson are getting key at bats in one of the most important series of the year. (They should really just be allowed to count as one switch hitting outfielder named Matt Warson as I don't think anyone really knows the difference between the two.) Yes Cliff Lee is amazing, and expecting a win against him is probably a little crazy, but even against CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis the A's couldn't muster much offense.
We'll see what storylines emerge as the rest of the season progresses. I think battling the Angels for 2nd place is a worthwhile goal and I'll also be watching for growth from Cliff Pennington, Adam Rosales, and Daric Barton and awaiting the potential call ups of Chris Carter and Michael Taylor (which I really don't think should happen until the AAA season is over).