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Off day open thread of monumental importance

The things happening today are important.

Take a breath. Let some emotion fade away.
Take a breath. Let some emotion fade away.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals get an off day today (GET SALVY SOME REST!). However, that doesn't mean that important baseball isn't happening. The Texas Rangers of Dallas/Arlington/Fort Worth are taking on the Oakland Athletics of Oakland this afternoon (2:30 CT). Oakland is now tied with the Royals in the Wild Card standings. Use this thread as a game thread for that game!

Oakland will send out budding ace Sonny Gray (2.8 fWAR, ground ball machine) against Nick Martinez, says ESPN. Martinez is not very good. He walks almost as many guys as he strikes out. His last 5 starts have been moderately better, and he is a fly ball guy pitching against a bunch of fly ball hitters in a pitcher-friendly park. Adrian Beltre and Leonys Martin are about all the Rangers have on offense, so I am anticipating an Oakland win.

Detroit also gets an off day today as they prepare to clash with the Royals this weekend. All 3 games will be nationally televised. There is only one other game of Royals relevance today: The Seattle Mariners of Seattle at the LA Angels of Anaheim. That game doesn't start until 9:05pm CT, soooooo...not gonna stay awake for that. It's still important, though, as Seattle sits two games behind the Royals and Oakland for the Wild Card. King Felix gets the start against Jered Weaver. Weaver is continuing his decline, but he's still a moderately effective pitcher. Felix Hernandez, though. Seattle has a great chance to win this one. No games today are nationally televised according to ESPN's website.

If you care about NL stuff, the St. Louis Cardinals of Terrible Place, USA are taking on the Milwaukee Brewers of Milwaukee in St. Louis. Kyle Lohse, former Cardinal, gets the start against Shelby Miller, who's had a rough go in his sophomore campaign. Other games with playoff implications include Boston vs. Pittsburgh and LAD vs. CHC. Pittsburgh is in a very similar position as the Royals, fighting to keep the 2nd NL Wild Card over the Brewers. I think the Brewers are more laying down than Pittsburgh is fighting. LAD has but a 2 game lead over the Giants, so they're in a decent spot playing against the lowly Cubs after being drubbed by the Rockies last night.

Having home field advantage would be nice, but at this point you have to wonder if that whole "Big crowd attendance-team flops" thing is real. Maybe we'll get more information about that "phenomenon" this weekend. Would it really be an advantage for the Royals to play at home? A big, raucous crowd at the K would shatter even the thickest of domes. I think the Royals should take out some dome insurance if they play a Wild Card game at home.

So, take a breath. Eat some BBQ. There will be no new Ned Yost in-game managerial moves to pan. There will be no singles train to rue. The Royals are half a game (1 game depending on your opinion of the suspended game) behind Detroit. The Royals' destiny is in their hands.

Today is the last off day of the regular season.