OAKLAND -- Three of the first four years the A's made the playoffs representing Oakland in the early 1970s, their opening opponent was the Baltimore Orioles. They haven't met in the postseason since 1974, though, before any of the players on either current team was born.
But come Oct. 5, might the two franchises be playing each other again at the Coliseum in the first-ever one-game American League wild-card playoff?
Nobody in either "stay in the moment" clubhouse wanted to venture a bold answer on that far-reaching question after the Orioles' 9-5 victory at the Coliseum on Sunday. But there's little doubt both sides have to be contemplating the possibility of an A's-O's nine-inning rematch for a whole lot more marbles than were at stake this weekend.
"You do, but that's looking really far ahead," A's catcher George Kottaras said. "We're going to try to play well so we don't have to be in that predicament. At the same time, we took two of three from them, so it's an exciting time for all."
Early on, when the A's jumped to a 2-0 first-inning lead on Josh Reddick's two-run homer, it looked as if Oakland had laid the groundwork for a three-game sweep and perhaps some serious mental mojo for an October return engagement.
But after the crowd of 20,539 was worked into a good froth in the bottom of the first, the day unraveled. A's starter Dan Straily (2-1) didn't have his customary command, Matt Wieters hit two early solo home runs and
It got worse from there. Baltimore tacked on three more runs in the seventh against Oakland's fifth of seven pitchers, Tyson Ross, and added two in the ninth against Jesse Chavez. A's pitchers surrendered 13 hits and nine walks for the day.
Manager Bob Melvin, while hardly distressed, lamented the lost opportunity.
"When you win the first two games you want to get greedy and take that third game," he said. "Especially after the first inning, scoring a couple of runs on Reddick's home run, we really thought we had a chance to win this game as well."
It might have left a damaging scar for a prospective one-game playoff, too, but if nothing else, Baltimore left town knowing it can win here.
Speaking of leaving town, the A's now hit the road for a 10-game monster trip to Detroit, New York and Texas that will go a long way to determining their postseason permutations.
Kottaras, for one, isn't worried about his team based on what he's seen since coming over from Milwaukee just before the July 31 trade deadline. He believes there are a lot of similarities between the A's and the Brewers team that made a strong August-September run to reach the playoffs a year ago.
"This team's young and loose, and even though it didn't go so well today, if we just keep doing what we're going, it's going to help us," he said. "In Milwaukee last year, we got hot at the right time."
Even though the A's lost Sunday, they still have won eight of 10, 17 of 22 and 23 of 30.
They have an off day Monday, and then it's 16 straight days to the regular-season finish line.
"At this time of a year, I don't think 16 in a row is going to bother us, because every game is going to have such magnitude, and everyone's going to be looking forward to getting to the park and playing," Melvin said.
Straily, to be sure, can't wait to get to the mound again to erase the foul taste of Sunday's outing. He surrendered five hits and four earned runs with just one strikeout, but what really left him burning were the five walks he allowed.
"I'm pretty sure that's the most I've ever walked in a game in my life," he said. "That's out of character for me, and it's frustrating. I was trying to be too fine and missing. I wasn't even coming close to the strike zone."
Oakland's magic number to clinch an American League wild-card spot remained at 12. The A's, who had cut the Texas Rangers' lead in the A.L. West to two games after Saturday's win, dropped a game in the standings with the Rangers' 2-1 victory against Seattle.
A's (A.J. Griffin 6-0) at Detroit (Max Scherzer 16-6), 4:05 p.m. CSNCA
A.L. WEST race
W L Pct. GB
Texas 87 59 .596 --
A's 84 62 .575 3
A.L. Wild-card race
W L Pct. GB
A's 84 62 .575 --
Baltimore 82 64 .562 --
L.A. Angels 80 67 .544 2
Tampa Bay 78 68 .534 4
Detroit 77 68 .531 4
Note: Top two teams earn wild-card berths.