The plastic wrap and chilled champagne were brought into the A’s clubhouse long before the end of the regular season home finale ended Sunday in Oakland, as the Texas Rangers loss sealed the second consecutive AL west championship for the A’s.
But that didn’t stop the Oakland players from once again throttling the Minnesota Twins.
After building a five-run lead after two innings, the A’s and 30,589 raucous fans at the Coliseum learned that Kansas City had beaten Texas, however Oakland did not let up en route to an 11-7 victory to sweep the four game series against the Twins.
Then it was time to celebrate.
Champagne and beer plumes rocketed towards the roof, and often towards the goggle-clad gleeful ballplayers, as “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang blasted from the speakers in the Coliseum clubhouse.
Only this year the A’s did it with a week left in the season and playoff incentives of home field advantage still on the table to scrap for, rather than waiting for the last game of the season as was done in 2012.
After the well deserved party and celebratory cigars, the A’s players were quick to describe that their focus still remains on winning, and putting themselves in the best possible position for the playoffs.
“We still are playing for something, and we’re not going to stop. Just because we won this division, we know that playing a team like the TIgers is going to be huge,” said Brandon Moss.
As of Sunday evening the A’s find themselves two games ahead of Detroit in a probable division series in the postseason, and a game and-a-half behind Boston for the best record, and home field advantage in the AL.
The A’s will need to use the same ingredients that have excelled them through the majority of the season: pitching, power and speed, to win in the playoffs. During the course of the game Sunday, that’s exactly what they exhibited. Coco Crisp, Daric Barton and Jed Lowrie all homered, and with a stolen base in the sixth, Crisp became the A’s 10th 20-20 player, and first since Ruben Sierra in 1993.
Sonny Gray did not have his best day on the mound, but managed to navigate through five innings to earn his fourth win of the season, and continued to put himself in strong consideration for the playoff roster.
The A’s offense continued to roll, totaling 39 runs in the four-game series against Minnesota which ties the most ever runs scored in a four game set for Oakland.
Next up for the A’s will be a set of road series against division rivals in Anaheim and Seattle.
Bob Melvin chose to give the starting pitching staff an extra day of rest, giving the nod to Tommy Milone to open the series in Anaheim. The lefty has put together an 11-9 record over his 151 innings in 2013,
The A’s only have six games left in the season to catch Boston for the best record in the league, and can sew up home field advantage with a little bit of luck and the same style of baseball that Melvin has implemented all season long.