(Photo Courtesy of Keith Allison)
Bartolo Colon starts a big game against Yu Darvish and Texas this weekend

by Jim Turvey

With MLB’s move to a two Wild Card set up, the emphasis on winning one’s division is higher than ever. First and foremost, it guarantees a spot in the playoffs, while a slip down to the Wild Card means having to win a play-in game, and then go on to play the top seed in the league. This becomes even more challenging because most teams keep their playoff rotations shorter, and having to use a starter in the play-in game, before the Divisional Series even starts, is just another handicap the Wild Card teams have to face.

In the 2013 American League playoff race, however, there will be more emphasis on winning the Wild Card than ever. I say this because of how incredibly tight the race is at this moment. The race for the second Wild Card spot (the first spot is currently filled by Nolan Ryan’s sacks of crap) includes the Rays, Yankees, Indians, Orioles, and Royals all within two games of each other. This means that whoever is able to come out of this mess is going to be playing good baseball, seeing as they will have fended off four other teams for that spot. A hot Wild Card team is about as dangerous a thing as the MLB playoffs offer, and why avoiding that play-in game at all costs is a must.

If the A’s manage a victory today (they’re off to a good start), then they can guarantee themselves the division lead, through their weekend series with the Rangers even if the Rangers were to take all three (let’s not go hoping for that scenario, however). On the positive side of this series, however, if the A’s could sweep it would most likely be the knock out punch for the AL West crown.

The A’s certainly look strong at the moment, and if the playoffs were to start today would be hosting the Tigers in the Divisional Series, but we certainly wouldn’t want to count our eggs before they hatch. The A’s need to stay vigilant, and keep up their winning ways. One final note, make sure to check out Saturday’s match up of Colon vs. Darvish for the battle of “The Most Horizontal Movement on Pitches,” the crown jewel of the weekend series.

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