A's oh so close, look to clinch West title today
09/22/2013 12:00 AM
10/08/2014 10:47 AM
OAKLAND – As with the final day of the 2012 season, the A's awoke Saturday morning needing a win and a loss by the Texas Rangers to secure the title of American League West champions. Unlike last year, they could not take care of both themselves.
The A's waited out a two-hour, one-minute rain delay before beating the Minnesota Twins 9-1, then had to wait some more for the Rangers' game against the Royals to go final in Kansas City. It did so with Texas winning 3-1, postponing the A's celebration for at least one more day.
It made for an odd postgame scene in the Oakland clubhouse, where lockers were draped in plastic for a potential champagne celebration while players gathered around watching the final innings of the game in Kansas City.
After the final out, clubhouse attendants quickly began taking down the plastic as the A's filed out for the evening.
"I mean, we know it's right there," said Jarrod Parker, the winning pitcher for the A's on Saturday. "It's something where if we handle what we do and we win games, it's going to happen."
Their win trimmed the A's magic number to 1, meaning they would clinch the West with a win today regardless of what happens with the Rangers. The Rangers, though, are scheduled to begin play two hours before the A's, allowing for the possibility of the A's becoming division champions in the middle of their own game, should Texas lose.
"It's just one of those ordeals," third baseman Josh Donaldson said.
"Whatever happens, happens. We'll take care of it when the game's finished."
Rain battered O.co Coliseum on Saturday morning – causing flooding in the dugouts and sending A's players onto the field to survey the downpour – and postponed play until just after 3 p.m. The A's then mounted a deluge of their own, collecting 16 hits and taking a 2-0 lead after two innings against Twins left-hander Pedro Hernandez.
Four of the hits belonged to Alberto Callaspo, who drove in the A's first run in the first with a two-out single to score Jed Lowrie, then capped a five-run second with a home run to left off Hernandez that scored Yoenis Cespedes. In between, Chris Young hit a sacrifice fly and Cespedes drove in a pair of runs with a two-out single.
Kurt Suzuki added a two-run home run off reliever Liam Hendricks in the seventh, and Cespedes hit a solo shot in the eighth, giving the A's 65 homers in their last 42 games, the most in the majors by double digits.
Donaldson singled and doubled and now has 55 multiple-hit games this season, two shy of the Oakland record.
Donaldson, who has reached base in 26 consecutive games and is batting .306 with a team-high 91 RBIs, was met with chants of "MVP!" during his later at-bats from an announced crowd of 26,393 at the Coliseum.
"That was cool," Donaldson said. "I mean, I'm 0 for 2 with two (strikeouts) with it, so I don't know how good it is. But it's nice, just the respect the fans showed me with that."
Parker, in his first outing since having his 19-start unbeaten streak snapped, retired 12 of the first 14 hitters he faced before Josmil Pinto's solo homer leading off the fifth.
Parker said he benefited from a more normal week leading up to the start – his last was pushed back a day because he was sick – and that he didn't mind the rain delay at the start.
"It just brought me back to some (Double-A) Southern League memories, where every day you're almost rain delayed," Parker said.
It was the first of two delays, as the A's had to wait overnight for another opportunity to clinch. Today's series finale against the Twins marks their last chance to do so in front of a home crowd – they finish the season with two road series, at Los Angeles and Seattle.
"It'd be nice for our fans," Donaldson said. "But really anytime we can clinch, especially a division, we'll take it anywhere."
Notes – Coco Crisp was scratched from the A's original lineup during the rain delay. Manager Bob Melvin said he had been meaning to give Crisp a day off, and the playing conditions Saturday made for a good reason.
Along with the rain, the A's dealt with another sewage issue Saturday, with flooding in the coaches' locker room in the home clubhouse before the game.
Melvin said afterward that everything had been cleaned up, and the A's have "somebody on call these days."
"It kind of comes with the territory," he said.
Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015, and read his online reports at blogs.sacbee.com/bay-area-baseball.
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