For the first time since July 1, Oakland fell from the top spot in the American League West following a loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday.
With the Orioles, Rays, Indians and suddenly-hot Royals also fighting for a pair of Wild Card spots in the AL, earning the top spot in AL West becomes that much more important. Second place might not be good enough.
The A's get a chance to take three of four from the struggling Blue Jays on Monday. And the friendly stretch of the schedule for the A's continues with the Astros, Indians and Mariners making the trip to Oakland over the next two weeks.
This could be the time for the A's to make a run.
To clinch the four-game set on Monday, they'll have to get the best of J.A. Happ (2-2, 5.84 ERA), who will start in place of Josh Johnson, suffering from a sore forearm.
"He's good," Toronto manager John Gibbons said of Johnson, who is 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA this season. "We don't think it's a big deal."
In the reshuffled rotation, Happ will pitch on normal rest on Monday, followed by Todd Redmond on Tuesday, Johnson on Wednesday, Mark Buehrle on Thursday and R.A. Dickey on Friday.
"Johnson was a little stiff after his last start, so this gives him a couple of days," Gibbons said.
The A's offense gets to work having left 26 runners on base over the last three games.
But Josh Reddick is on a tear. After smacking five homers in two games on Friday and Saturday, Reddick reached base three more times Sunday. A healthy and productive Reddick could certainly do wonders for a team in the middle of a playoff race. The 26-year-old outfielder was hitting .203 with five homers until he erupted on Friday.
Oakland will likely need some of Reddick's magic to back Sunday starter Dan Straily, who has not completed the fifth inning in three consecutive starts.
A's: Anderson still a question mark
Brett Anderson could certainly give the A's a lift during this final third of the season. The talented left-hander is progressing from a right foot injury and has no timetable for a return, but if the A's become desperate for pitching during the stretch run, Anderson could come back as a reliever.
"I think anything is an option at this point. We'll see what our needs are, and we'll see how far we can speed him along," said manager Bob Melvin.
Blue Jays: Reyes powering through pain
Jose Reyes has driven in at least one run in six straight games, playing through pain in his right ankle. He has nine homers and 29 RBIs in 51 games this season, in addition to 12 stolen bases and a terrific glove and dynamite arm at shortstop.
The power has been a plus, though it's not unexpected.
"We knew he had some pop in his bat, and then you come into this ballpark. He can hit 20 a year," Gibbons said. "He missed so much time because of the ankle, but in a full season, that wouldn't surprise me one bit. He has such a good short, little swing."
• A's catcher Derek Norris was unavailable again on Sunday with back spasms. Josh Donaldson is the backup catcher while Stephen Vogt gets most of the action behind the dish.
• Toronto closer Casey Janssen has converted all but two of his 23 save opportunities this season.