Jed Lowrie

Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports

How A's could screw up everything for Red Sox in more ways than one this postseason

John Tomase
August 24, 2018 - 11:21 am

In a perfect world, the Red Sox would draw the Yankees in the Division Series. New York is battered and bruised, its starting pitching is shaky, and under rookie manager Aaron Boone, the squad has been plagued by an August malaise that could easily carry through September.

In an imperfect world, the Red Sox would draw the Astros in the first round. The defending champs have been besieged by injuries, but recently welcomed back reigning MVP Jose Altuve and slugging shortstop Carlos Correa, with leadoff man George Springer, catcher Brian McCann, and All-Star reliever Chris Devenski soon to follow.

There's one team with the power to control this narrative, and it's upending the AL playoff picture -- the Oakland A's.

Not since the halcyon days of Moneyball has an Oakland team so perfectly blended dominance and anonymity. Even after losing two straight to fall a game and a half out of first place in the AL West, the A's have been on a tear. As recently as July 10, they trailed the Astros by 10 games. They erased that entire deficit in a little over a month, pulling into a tie for first last weekend.

They've won 25 of their last 36 to zoom past the Mariners and within sight of the Astros. If Oakland wins the West, the Astros and Yankees would meet (probably in Houston) for the Wild Card play-in game, with the winner heading to Boston for the Division Series.

In that scenario, the Red Sox would face the unpalatable possibility of drawing a healthy Astros squad that's as talented and battle-tested as any in baseball for a five-game series. That's far from ideal.

If Houston manages to hold off Oakland down the stretch, the A's would likely visit the Yankees for the wild card game, since New York currently holds a four-game lead in that race.

Oakland would pose a serious threat to everyone's dream ALDS matchup of Red Sox-Yankees. DH Khris Davis has emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate -- and serious threat to J.D. Martinez on the AL leaderboards -- with 39 homers and 103 RBIs. Matt Chapman is already being discussed as the best defensive third baseman in a generation. Old friend Jed Lowrie is on pace for his first 100-RBI season and has already set a career-high with 20 homers. The bullpen, led by closer Blake Treinen, is one of the best in baseball.

The A's, it should also be noted, are 4-2 against the Red Sox and dealt them their most memorable loss of the season with Sean Manaea's April no-hitter. The A's also have the power to disrupt the postseason, making them a threat to the Red Sox in more ways than one.