I'm attending the playoff game between the Twins and A's this afternoon, and while I'm excited, I am under no delusions that Oakland will actually win. This is the third time in six years that the A's have taken a 2-0 lead in the first round of the playoffs. Both times, in 2001 and 2003, they proceeded to lose three straight games and the series. Since 2000, the A's have lost four first-round series, all of them in five games. When they have a chance to eliminate their opponent in the Division Series, the A's are 0-9.
But Sean, you might say. The A's are in great shape. They beat Johan Santana, the best pitcher in baseball, in Game 1. He hadn't lost at home in over a year! They won another game on the road, meaning that they've got two home games before Minnesota even has a chance to tie it up. The opposing pitcher in Game 3 has a "stress fracture in his right shoulder that keeps him in near constant pain". Minnesota's Game 4 pitcher has a 5.94 ERA and weighs over 250 pounds. Forget it. They're losing in five.
What can go wrong? Plenty.
- Dan Haren injures his shoulder in a bar fight at Crogan's. He leaves Game 1 after an inning and a third. Reliever Gil Heredia is ineffective.
- Milton Bradley is ejected and suspended for biting an umpire.
- Nick Punto stops sliding head-first into first base and legs out three infield hits a game.
- Marco Scutaro and D'Angelo Jimenez break their hands high-fiving one another.
- Joe Mauer fouls a ball off his shin, which bounces up and breaks Jason Kendall's nose.
- Rich Harden spends Saturday morning enjoying some "socialized medicine" with fellow Canadian Justin Morneau, and his effectiveness drops quicker than the value of the loonie.
- Federal agents burst into the Oakland dughout and arrest Ken Macha for his participation in an elaborate Dot Racing gambling ring.
- Oakland decdides to prove they can play "little ball". Jay Payton strikes out twice trying to bunt, and Frank Thomas is caught stealing four times. Joe Morgan cheers.
- When Ron Washington falls ill, the team brings in Jeremy Giambi to coach third base.
- Radke heroically keeps the game close for six innings, and Minnesota's stellar bullpen handcuffs the A's hitters for the remainder of the game. Also, Nick Swisher is stabbed by a drunken Raider fan in the parking lot.
- Every time an A's runner heads home, they shove the catcher and yell at the umpire instead of simply touching home plate. Somewhere in Arizona, Eric Byrnes weeps with pride.
- Relief pitchers Kiko Calero and Justin Duchscherer fall into severe depressions when they realize how silly their names are.
- Frank Thomas eats fifteen rancid Dollar Dogs and falls ill, not realizing that Two Dolla Wednesday was a full nine days ago.
- Bobby Kielty tears his ACL running on the torn-up, football-destroyed outfield turf.
- In the ninth inning of Game 5, the A's pinch-hit Adam Melhuse for Thomas in order to get the platoon advantage. "It's called playing the percentages," explains Billy Beane. "It's what smart general managers do to win ballgames." Melhuse strikes out looking.
- Eric Chavez continues to play exactly the same as he has every postseason.