The A’s swept the mighty Yankees over the weekend, the highlights of which could be spliced into “Moneyball 2.”
Is another underdog story brewing in Oakland, where the A’s are suddenly surging into the American League wild-card race?
Maybe. Billy Beane’s made a few great moves in the past months, and they seem to have hit on the intangibles.
Why: They’re believing. “I don’t think there was anybody in the dugout or in the stands who didn’t think we were going to win,” outfielder Seth Smith said after Sunday’s comeback win. The A’s are 14-2 in July.
Why not: The A’s are still last in the league in runs and are hitting .228 as a team. And they’re in a division with two strong contenders: the Rangers and Angels. This is still a roster of virtual no-names, even as stars-in-the-making such as Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes and Jarrod Parker emerge.
There’s two months to play. But Oakland is turning into a big story.
On to this week’s Monday Morning Manager:
Jason Kubel, Diamondbacks: Quietly having a big year in his first NL season. He’s got 10 homers in July and has raised his average to .300.
Albert Pujols, Angels: Wasn’t an All-Star, but by the end of the season, the stats will be there and he’ll probably be playing in the playoffs. He has six homers in July and three last week. His average is up to .280 with 18 homers and 60 RBI.
David Freese, Cardinals: Last year’s World Series hero is red hot again, hitting .556 last week and .434 in July. He’s having his career-best season at .305 with 14 homers and 55 RBI.
Rickie Weeks, Brewers: One of the best hitting second basemen the last few seasons, his production has fallen off a cliff in Milwaukee. He’s hitting .195 with nine homers.
Carlos Pena, Rays: He never hits for a high average, and he was 3 for 30 last week. He has 14 homers and is solid at first base, but Rays need a long-term answer there.
Jair Jurrjens, Braves: Atlanta was 3-1 in his first four starts since coming back from the minors, but he’s fallen off again. Nationals blasted him with six runs in 2 1/3 innings, five days after the Giants teed off on him. He has struck out one batter in the last 36 he’s faced, and allowed 17 hits.
1. Washington Nationals (55-39, last week No. 3)
2. Cincinnati Reds (55-40, last week No. 4)
3. Texas Rangers (56-38, last week No. 1)
4. New York Yankees (57-38, last week No. 2)
5. Detroit Tigers (52-44, last week NR)
26. Philadelphia Phillies (42-54, last week NR)
27. Minnesota Twins (40-55, last week NR)
28. Chicago Cubs (38-56, last week No. 27)
29. Colorado Rockies (36-58, last week No. 29)
30. Houston Astros (34-62, last week No. 30)