Giambic Park 

Oakland A's

In search of nail-biting suspense and unpredictable excitement in your entertainment this week? Forget Jurassic Park III. The Network Associates Coliseum is the place to be for thrills, spills, and chills in the East Bay, as the surging Oakland A's take on the Minnesota Twins (now through Thursday) and the Kansas City Royals (Friday through Sunday) at a crucial juncture in the A's quest for an American League playoff spot.

Hell, every game has been a crucial juncture this season.

There's no end of questions for the A's as they try to gain ground on the Twins, the Cleveland Indians, and the dreaded, two-headed Yankees-Red Sox monster in the wild-card race (the Mariners are so far ahead that even with a major Seattle fold the A's would have to win practically every game in August to make a dent in the Ichiro-mobile and challenge for the AL West championship).

Has Johnny Damon finally turned the corner and become the leadoff man the A's hired him to be? Will manager Art Howe ever solve the Number Three Hitter puzzle? Have the A's figured out a way to hit into fewer double plays? What about all those blown saves? Can Barry Zito find the handle? Can you believe the way Jeremy Giambi is hitting lately? Is the team going to stay in Oakland? What are the odds of A's owner Steve Schott getting eaten by a dinosaur? Can we shorten them? And perhaps most importantly for fans as the team enters the Dog Days stretch: Will Schott, Billy Beane, and company finally bite the bullet and sign Jason Giambi to the contract he so plainly deserves?

These and other riddles will fill the minds of nervous A's fans (what other kind is there?) this week as Tom Kelly's AL Central-leading Minnesotans pay a visit. It's the Twins' first and only stop at the Net this year, and the A's' last look at them. They're followed by the hapless Royals -- whom the A's roasted last weekend in KC -- for a weekend barbecue. For tickets call 510-762-BALL.


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