With an 11-1 drubbing of the Baltimore Orioles Sunday at Camden Yards, the Oakland Athletics improved to 39-24 this season, while continuing to flex their muscles in the American League this season. It's only June 8, and the A's have outscored their opponents this season by a whopping 128 runs.
Last season, on their way to winning 96 games and a second-straight AL West division title, Oakland only outscored its competition by 142 runs for the entire season. In 2012, the differential for the AL West champs was a mere 99 runs. In comparison, this 2014 edition of the A's looks like a juggernaut.
Take away the strange blown-lead issues of the bullpen this season, and Oakland's dominance of the 2014 MLB season would be the top story in the sport. The A's "luck factor" this year is on the negative side of the ledger, thanks to those late-inning struggles, which means Oakland is even better than its record suggests.
And that means bad news for the rest of the American League in 2014: The A's have been somewhat of an afterthought because of the negative stadium issues and the two recent losses to the Detroit Tigers in the AL Division Series. But perhaps the third time will be a charm for Oakland this October as the club chases its tenth World Series title overall -- and its fifth in California since moving west in 1968 from Kansas City.
The A's also have the best road record in the majors (22-12), and they now head down to Los Angeles for a three-game set with the Angels. Currently, Oakland leads L.A. by five games in the AL West, and if the A's can take another two of three on the road, they'll head back home to face the New York Yankees on Friday night with a comfy division cushion.
After taking two of three from the Yankees in the Bronx earlier this week, the A's moved right on to Baltimore: Oakland scored six runs today in the third inning, on a grand slam that wasn't and a grand slam that was, to effectively end the game quickly.
Designated hitter John Jaso thought he had a grand slam off Ubaldo Jimenez, but an official review turned the hit into a ground-rule double instead. Two batters later, however, left fielder Brandon Moss truly did park the ball on the other side of the fence for the slam, and the A's never looked back.
Scott Kazmir threw seven shutout innings, and Jaso added four RBI of his own on the day to clinch the three-game series against the Orioles. Combined with the 4-3 win in extra innings on Friday night, the A's took their second straight tough matchup against AL East contenders.
The A's did lose, 6-3, to Baltimore on Saturday, but that's the thing about Oakland: when they are losing, they still keep games close. In games decided by five runs or more, unofficially earning that "blowout" label, the A's are 16-2 this year. They're hard to beat soundly, and Oakland often comes back big after a loss.
For comparison's sake, the National League's best team has a run differential of +63 and an 8-4 record in blowout games. And the Toronto Blue Jays, with the second-best record in the AL, clocks in with marks of +48 and 12-9, respectively. Even before today's 11-1 win which no doubt solidified both the following statistical realities, the A's led the majors in scoring (316 runs) and ERA (2.95).
That's a dominant double for a team that shrugs off an overturned grand slam by merely hitting a no-doubter just a few moments later.