Melky Cabrera and the Giants are locked up with the Dodgers for the NL West crown while Bartolo Colon and the A's are fighting tooth and nail for a wild card spot in the American League.
After losing one of their best pitchers for the next 50 games, the Athletics are now in a precarious position. They enter Thursday night trailing the Rangers by five games in the standings, but leading the second wild card spot by a 1/2 game over Detroit and Baltimore. Will they be able to hold on?
The A's after all, weren't supposed to be the team that contended for a wild card out of their division — that was supposed to be the Angels, who signed Albert Pujols this offseason. Instead, the surprising Athletics capitalized on key performances by players having breakout years, like Josh Reddick, and also leaning on players like Colon or Coco Crisp, who are enjoying a rejuvenation of their careers.
While losing Colon will be a blow to a staff relying heavily on young arms, the A's also just had starter Brandon McCarthy return from the disabled list. Their pitchers may be dealing with unfamiliar workloads, but they've gotten them this far. Without Colon, how much further can they go?