Forget the Wild Card — the A's Are Suddenly in Contention for the AL West Title

During this blazing 33-10 stretch, the Athletics have vaulted from 11 games behind the Mariners to two games ahead, a stunning 13-game turnaround in less than two months. Just like that, the A's find themselves in possession of the second American League Wild Card spot.

But there's another team the A's are reeling in, albeit a little more slowly. That's right, the defending World Series champions. The already anointed 2018 division champions. The mighty Houston Astros.

Is it possible? Could the A's really track down the Astros? On June 15, Oakland trailed Houston by 11 1/2 games in the AL West. Fast forward to August 7 and that lead is down to 4 1/2 games (and it could have been 3 1/2 if not for one Will Smith mistake Monday night).

The A's certainly don't show any signs of slowing down. Bob Melvin's club leads MLB with a 12-4 record since the All-Star break. The Astros, on the other hand, are just 8-7 since the Midsummer Classic, and dealing with injuries to key contributors. Sluggers Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Brian McCann are all on the DL, as is talented starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr.

Oakland still has six games remaining against Houston, including a three-game series at the Coliseum next weekend. Imagine of the A's sweep that series. Even if they take two of three, the AL West gets very interesting.

The rest of the Astros' August schedule will not be easy. Their next 13 games come against teams currently .500 or better. Then in September, Houston will have series against Boston, Arizona, Seattle, and the Angels.

Sure, the A's still have tough series remaining too, but 25 of Oakland's final 38 games are against teams currently under .500.

Is it likely the A's will pass the Astros and win the division? Probably not. Houston is the defending champion for a reason. But is it possible? Absolutely.

This season has already surpassed all realistic expectations for A's fans. Oakland was projected to win about 75 games, according to most sportsbooks. With nearly two months left in the regular season, the Athletics are already at 67 wins. So why not keep being "unrealistic"?

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