Can July Success Translate into Playoff Spot?

Athletics manager Bob Melvin is hoping his team can turn its fantastic July into stellar stretch run. "We've played really well to get to where we are," Melvin said. "A lot of that happened this month." Oakland, which set a franchise record for winning percentage in July has pulled up within 5.5 games from the division leader Rangers and lead the american league wild card race.

Timely hitting has played its part in the recent success in Oaktown. Oakland leads the league by far with 13 walk-off wins, and Coco Crisp leads the team with three walk-off hits. It seems like every player has delivered a walk-off or game-winning hit at some point in the year, especially in July and August. Reddick leads the team in walk off antics. Reddick delivered his historic first pie May 8 after Brandon Inge hit a walk-off grand slam to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-3. And because the dramatic victories kept rolling in, so did the dessert cart. The most recent antic involved a spider man costume and of course, a well placed pie in the face of Coco Crisp.

Closer Ryan Cook has blown some saves recently, but he's been great this year and was the only Oakland A to make it to the all star game. As long as the starters keep the A's in the game, Oakland has a pretty good chance to win, especially with the exceptional pitching coming from the bullpen. It seems like Yoenis Cespedes and his .367 OBP always come through, and if he doesn't, Crisp, Smith, Reddick, Jemile Weeks, Jonny Gomes, Brandon Inge or someone else usually does, just in time.

Pitching has not been living up to the A.L leading ERA in the last 10 games. This is ok however because there are very capable arms just about ready to step in at the mound. First, the A's unofficial ace going into the year, Brandon McCarthy. Before he re-injured his shoulder just before the All-Star break, McCarthy had an ERA of 2.54, which would have been good for fourth in the American League at the time. He makes his first start since mid-July against the Chicago White Sox August 10th.

As for Brett Anderson, his return has been nearly 13 months in the making. Out since July 2011 after Tommy John surgery, the A's lefty is primed to return after a promising rehab start for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. The veteran combination could ultimately fit seamlessly into a rotation that has scuffled just a touch and with rookie A.J. Griffin on the disabled list, is in immediate need of another arm.

They will be important because the A's are ultimately going to need more than guts and guile to win in September. They are going to need quality. They are on pace to win 87 games but have a difficult road ahead and they need their pitching staff to continue to lead the A.L in ERA.

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