The A's have dealt with their share of injuries this season, most recently losing starting outfielders Ramón Laureano and Stephen Piscotty to lower-leg injuries. But Oakland is not the only wild-card contender that has been bitten by the injury bug this month.
Both the Rays and Indians have lost key contributors in recent days. Tampa Bay announced that All-Star second baseman Brandon Lowe will likely miss the rest of the season with a quad injury, while Cleveland placed third baseman and annual MVP candidate José Ramírez on the injured list with a fractured right hamate bone (A's fans are certainly familiar with that injury).
These are both enormous losses. Lowe, 25, was slashing .276/.339/.523 with 16 home runs and 49 RBI in 76 games this season, ranking second on the Rays in OPS. Ramírez, 26, is tied for third on the Indians with 20 homers, second with 75 RBI, and first with 24 stolen bases.
Ramírez had caught fire after the All-Star break, slashing .327/.363/.705 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 41 games. He underwent hamate bone removal surgery on Monday and will miss 5-7 weeks, essentially ending his regular season.
Ramirez's absence leaves a huge hole in the middle of the Indians lineup. A two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger, he finished third in the MVP voting each of the last two years. Without his explosive bat in the lineup, Cleveland's offensive production figures to take a major hit.
As for Lowe, it's been a terrific rookie season for the talented second baseman. He was the frontrunner for the AL Rookie of the Year Award throughout the first half of the year, though Houston's Yordan Álvarez has probably passed him at this point.
Lowe initially suffered a right shin bone bruise back in early July, before sustaining the quad injury in a rehab game for Triple-A Durham. Before the shin bone injury, he batted everywhere in Tampa Bay's lineup -- literally. He started at least one game from one through nine in the order, though he got most of his action batting first, third, fourth, and fifth.
Both the Rays and Indians rank in the bottom half of MLB in runs scored. Those numbers will likely continue to go down following these injuries. We'll see if the A's can take advantage.