09/18/12 7:30 PM ET
One-day-at-a-time mentality key on A's road trip
Club treating crucial stretch like any other as they eye a postseason berth
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
The American League Wild Card leaders, having already played seven of the last 10 on the road with wins in all but one of them, play 10 more away from the comforting confines of the Oakland Coliseum, each against teams also in prime position for a playoff spot.
Following a three-game set with the host Tigers, the A's will make their way to New York for the first time this season for three games, a series to be followed by perhaps the most challenging of them all: four games against division foe Texas, which entered Tuesday three games ahead of Oakland in the AL West race.
The A's aren't downplaying the daunting excursion, but they're also not letting it interfere with their year-long "one day at a time" mantra that has proven significant to their success. They have an AL-best 40-31 ledger on the road this season.
"I know it's a cliché, but we play for the day and try not to look too far ahead," manager Bob Melvin said. "You start looking at scheduling and road games and it all becomes very much distracting. I've been pretty good about staying on that line of thought."
And it's trickled down to his players.
"This stretch is really crucial, but you can't really dwell on it and let it get to you," Brett Anderson said.
"We've had our fair share of doubters," Jonny Gomes said, "but, up to this point, we haven't let anything get in our way here. I don't foresee that changing."
The A's were sitting right around .500 when they split a four-game set with the Tigers in Oakland in mid-May. Entering Tuesday, they were 22 games past that mark, having won 41 of 60 since the All-Star break.
Oakland's offense has greatly improved, ranking third in the AL in runs scored since the break, and its pitching -- the rookie-laden A's have a 3.46 ERA -- continues to excel against any of the league's lineups.
"As a group, collectively, we feel like we have a good team, and we try to stay in the moment," Melvin said. "It's a group that enjoys each other, a very loose group that enjoys being around each other.
"I think every series is important. You knew this trip is coming, but based on the fact we've been playing well on the road, I don't think anyone is putting too much thought into it. We're just trying to go out and win that game on that particular day."
"It's a big road trip, and against teams you have the potential to play in the postseason," Anderson said. "Playing meaningful games in September, it's fun, obviously -- but you don't really know how to treat it, because most have us have never been in that position, so you just treat it like any other game."
The A's consider that an advantage, since it's "one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of thing," as Anderson described it.
"We just know how to play like we've been playing, rather than let any hype get to us, and if we continue to do that, good things will happen. The pressure is on the other teams, for the most part, especially the teams that have big payrolls."
Count the Rangers among them. The A's will play seven of their final 10 regular-season contests against the boys from the Lone Star State, whom Oakland is very much still eyeing to overtake.
"For any team that still has the chance to win their division, that's what you look at first and foremost," Melvin said. "For me, the whole Wild Card thing is way too confusing for me to follow, to tell you the truth. We're just looking, right now, winning on a particular day and knowing there is still a chance we can win the division."