http://youtu.be/Rv_OykUNS64) and are currently tied with fellow surprises Baltimore and Chicago for the final wild card spot in the AL. They're threatening to overtake Mike Trout and the Angels for 2nd place in the AL West.
Yet, this is a franchise that's still seeking a new stadium. Yet, this is a franchise that will likely be moving in the future. Yet, this is a team that ranks dead last in Batting Average (Josh Reddick leads the team in BA with .272 because Yoenis Cespedes hasn't had enough at-bats to qualify for the category) and near the bottom in almost every offensive category. Yet, this is a team that averages 20,987 people for every A's home game in 2012 (28th in MLB). You'd figure that Oakland fans would be flocking to the games to see a streaking MLB team.
Anyways, what has been the secret to Oakland's success? Why, it's been nothing more than the pitching. In all but one of their thirteen wins in their last fifteen games, the A's allowed three runs or less in these games (By the way, none of those were shutouts). Another interesting fact during this run has been that nine of the thirteen wins were either in extra innings or by one run. SP Jarrod Parker has been impressive for the A's, pitching an ERA of three and going 7-4 this year. His WHIP is a bit high at 1.22, but July hasn't been his month this year. He hasn't been the only Athletic pitcher who's been impressive, though. Tommy Milone's 9-6 with an ERA of 3.34, 86 SOs and a WHIP of 1.20 so far while Bartolo Colon (Yes, that Bartolo Colon), despite having a record of 6-8, has thrown for an ERA of 3.88 and a WHIP of 1.25. Just as eye-opening is Brandon McCarthy, who's 6-3 with an ERA of 2.54, nine quality starts, 52 SOs and a team pitching-best WAR (Wins Above Replacement; ESPN has gone gaga over this stat) of 2.3. But the starting rotation doesn't get it done all alone.
Former Ray Grant Balfour has helped anchor Oakland's bullpen with Ryan Cook this season. The two relievers have combined for a 6-4 record, 17 saves, 23 holds and 79 SOs this year. Cook has appeared in 42 games this season while Balfour has been in 45. While Cook's ERA may be a lot more impressive than Balfour's (Cook's ERA is 1.70 compared to Balfour's ERA of three), both pitchers have thrown for incredible WHIPs. Cook's WHIP is at 0.90 while Balfour's is at 1.02. Sean Doolittle has been notably good in his fifteen appearances as well with his ERA of 1.86.
As a whole, the Oakland Athletics are in the Top 5 in ERA, opponent's BA, shutouts and WHIP. But there have been some bright spots in Oakland's lineup. Josh Reddick has hit 21 homers while driving in 46 RBIs. Cespedes has been just as advertised with a .306 BA, thirteen home runs and 45 RBIs. Even everyone's favorite former Tiger Brandon Inge has delivered some production, driving in 40 runs this season.
Who knows what the next two to three months hold for the Athletics? The trade deadline is fast approaching and believe it or not, the A's are in prime position to be buyers. Could Oakland make a move and add a bat to their lineup? Yes, they have plenty of switch-hitters in their lineup. But the A's could use a productive left-handed bat since none of the switch-hitters can actually hit. Whatever way you cut it, the Athletics will definitely be a factor in the MLB playoff race come September. *Bow wow wow yippee yo yippee yay bow wow yippee yo yippee yay!!
*This is a reference to Oakland's home run song, i.e. George Clinton's "Atomic Dog".