With Wild Card hopes fainting, Athletics face most crucial month Of ’15 campaign

The Oakland Athletics are hoping the return of speedy, veteran outfielder Coco Crisp will provide them with one last gasp in their longshot run at reaching the postseason.

Heading into the first week of August, the A’s trailed the Tampa Bay Rays by six games in the chase for the second and final AL playoff Wild Card spot. Six other teams (Rangers, Tigers, White Sox, Mariners, Indians and Red Sox) also currently stand in front of them, but it’s a deficit the club is absolutely capable of overcoming, especially with two full months remaining on the slate.

Oakland will also have a chance to get their licks in against some of those teams they have to pass, with series opposing the Blue Jays (one of the current Wild Card holders), Rays, Mariners, and Orioles all in August. As a result, it’s no wonder Athletics tickets have become a commodity again, with fans of the team just excited that there’s still meaningful baseball to be played in a season that appeared lost only a few weeks ago.

In addition, the A’s will also take part in a couple of intriguing Interleague series in August, when they meet the NL West resident Dodgers and Diamondbacks later on in the month. For sure, the in-state rivalry series between Los Angeles and Oakland should certainly command a lot of attention, as these two clubs rarely meet, but it’s also their three-game set with Arizona that could play a pivotal role in their potential postseason outlook. Both teams currently stand on similar ground within their respective leagues, which is why tickets to see the Diamondbacks and Athletics clash might become a hot item.

Sometimes, it all requires is a spark plug to get a team going, and that’s exactly what the Athletics might have with the return of the veteran Crisp. The versatile outfielder banged out a pair of hits in his official return from the 60-day disabled list with a neck injury during the A’s recent 9-2 loss to Baltimore.

“It was good to see him get a couple hits right away,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Crisp’s return to the lineup. “Because confidence-wise, now he is out there playing.”

Crisp knows his importance to the A’s attack. He may have tried to come back too quickly from an earlier injury this season that he now feels may have only further set him back over the long haul.

“I know last time I came back a little bit too soon, just a couple games, I didn’t really have a chance to find my swing,” he said. “This time when I was down there, there were a couple of things I figured out, all the way down to that last at-bat in A-ball. And when I came back up from rehabbing, I felt close to normal.”

Crisp joins an Oakland attack that, in his absence, has been paced by Josh Reddick (.283, 13 HRs, 58 RBI) and All-Star catcher Stephen Vogt (.261, 14 HRs, 61 RBI). Stranger things have happened before, making it all the more possible that the Athletics climb all the way back up the standings.



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