Tuesday was not a good day for the A's.
Not only did they lose 3-2 to the Los Angeles Angels, but the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians both won, thus erasing any cushion Oakland had enjoyed in the AL wild-card race. Oakland now leads Tampa Bay by just half a game for the top spot and Cleveland by one game for the second position with five games remaining.
"I think it just wasn't a good day for us overall offensively," manager Bob Melvin told reporters in Anaheim after the loss Tuesday. "I think we maybe expected to do a little bit more early in the game. We've been pretty good against left-handed pitching here this year. Give (Angels starter Dillon Peters) credit. He threw a lot of changeups and curveballs in backwards counts and kept us off balance."
The A's record fell to 94-63, with the Rays right on their tails at 94-64 and the Indians close behind at 93-64. In other words, Oakland has no margin for error in these last five games of the regular season.
"I don't think any of us our panicking," said A's starter Homer Bailey, who allowed three earned runs in five innings to take the loss. "You're not going to win them all. We just kind of all had a little bit of an off day. It cost us a game and we lost 3-2. Big deal. Show up tomorrow, keep doing what we've been doing over the last week and-a-half or so."
Melvin added: "It's always been tight and it's going to continue to be tight. We've just got to take care of ourselves. You can't get too consumed in what other teams are doing. It's always been tight. It's going to be tight till the end, probably."
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The A's do own the tiebreaker against both the Rays and Indians, meaning Oakland would have home-field advantage in any play-in game. A three-way tie gets complicated, however. In that scenario, the A's would host the Rays on Monday, with the winner earning the top wild-card spot and the loser traveling to Cleveland to face the Indians the next night. The winner of that game would then capture the second wild-card position.
Of course, the A's would prefer to just lock up the first wild-card spot without relying on any tiebreakers. On Wednesday, they'll turn to Frankie Montas, the team's ace from the first half of the season.
Montas is set to return from an 80-game PED suspension and will now start the biggest game of the season, at least to this point. While he will not be eligible for the postseason, the right-hander at least has an opportunity to help his team get there.