- Gary Gillette, ESPN.com MLB insider contributor
Defying roster turnover, inexperience, critical injuries and a dreadful start to the season, the Athletics valiantly kept themselves in contention for both the AL wild card and the division title for most of the 2005 season. Now out of the AL wild-card race, the Boys from the East Bay still have a chance -- albeit an outside chance -- to cop the AL West title. To do so, however, they must sweep the four-game series with the Boys from L.A. of Orange County, beginning Monday.
The odds are heavily stacked against Oakland, four games behind Los Angeles after Sunday's loss to Texas. Since the advent of divisional play 36 years ago, no team has come back from a three-game deficit in the final week of the season. And only one team, the 1987 Detroit Tigers, has come back from more than three games behind in the last two weeks; the Tigers were 3½ games back with eight days to go. Detroit beat the division-leading Blue Jays on Sept. 26 to close the gap to 2½ games, then watched the deficit get reduced to one game as the Blue Jays were swept in their next series.
The final weekend of the 1987 season was an old-fashioned barnburner, as the top two teams in the AL East went head-to-head in Detroit. The Tigers won all three games by one run, stunning the Jays and giving Detroit the AL East title by two games.