If Oakland plays well in the final weeks of the season, it could have serious ramifications on the division races, especially in the West.
"It should be a motivator for you," manager Bob Melvin said of playing against contenders. "You always want to go out and win the game, obviously, but knowing that the teams you're playing have that much more to play for should incentivize the games for you."
Typically, teams that are eliminated -- or nearly eliminated -- from postseason contention still field the best lineups they can when playing contenders down the stretch.
"That's kind of the norm when you're playing against teams like that," Melvin said. "Now, if you have a younger player who's playing better than a veteran, you're [more] apt to do that, plus there are some guys we want to take a look at. But I don't think we'll be affected that much by it."
When teams without playoff hopes meet, managers feel free to use younger players and evaluate prospects -- but Melvin may have to wait to do that until the final series of the season, against the Mariners.