Oakland turned to Travis Blackley to stay in the AL West race, and the journeyman left-hander pushed the A’s into a tie with the Texas Rangers with one game remaining.
Blackley’s outstanding outing was fitting. Expectations were low, after two starts in which he had not made it past the second inning, but he came through, which sums up Oakland’s astonishing season. Blackley led Oakland to a 3-1 win, limiting Texas to one run on three hits in six innings.
The A’s, not expected to contend, have 93 wins and hold a share of first place for the first time since March 29, when they split the season-opening series with Seattle in Japan.
The winner of Wednesday’s Oakland-Texas game at the Coliseum will be the division champ. The loser will play in the wild-card game Friday against the Baltimore Orioles or the New York Yankees.
Blackley said he put his previous two outings, when he allowed nine runs in three innings, out of his mind entirely. He was facing a Texas team that knocked him out in one inning last week.
Blackley is not a lock for a postseason roster spot, and if he does make it, it would be as a long reliever.
A.J. Griffin will try to give the A’s the division title Wednesday. A rookie, like everyone else in the Oakland rotation, including Blackley, Griffin is 7-1 with a 2.71 ERA. He’s allowed more than three runs in just two of his 14 starts.