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AL Wild Card open thread

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Jon Lester vs. James Shields

Jamie Squire

Some people say that the single game wild card is manufactured drama, and while they have a point, it doesn't make it any less fun. You play 162 games, use at least five different starting pitchers to get you there, and then get forced to choose one of them to get you into what's really the true playoffs, at least a series that uses a bigger sample to decide the better squad.

But that's kind of the point of the second wild card, really. A few amazingly stressful and impactful games, and an extra inventive to get the job done in that huge sample size so you don't have to leave something up to random chance, which is what could easily happen tonight.

The A's limped into this game, but they have a pitching advantage here, sending out Jon Lester, who had a marvelous season between Boston and Oakland. Adam Dunn is in his first playoff appearance and is retiring after the year, and...he's on the bench. The Royals send out "Big Game" James Shields, who has a 4.98 ERA in playoff games.

While I wouldn't fault anybody who rooted for the A's, you won't find me cheering for a division opponent to win in the playoffs very often, but if there's one I'd do it for, it's Oakland. On the other hand, Kansas City is a somewhat similar franchise to the Mariners over the past decade, full of bad decisions, bad players, and bad breaks. It would be a damn shame to see them exit the playoffs for the first time since 1985 before they even began.

The game begins at 5:00 PM PST and is televised on TBS.

Today's Lineups

OAKLAND A'S KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Coco Crisp - CF Alcides Escobar - SS
Sam Fuld - LF Norichika Aoki - RF
Josh Donaldson - 3B Lorenzo Cain - CF
Brandon Moss - DH Eric Hosmer - 1B
Josh Reddick - RF Billy Butler - DH
Jed Lowrie - SS Alex Gordon - LF
Stephen Vogt - 1B Salvador Perez - C
Geovany Soto - C Omar Infante - 2B
Eric Sogard - 2B Mike Moustakas - 3B
Jon Lester - LHP James Shields - RHP