by Morris Phillips
With their magic number reduced to one, the A’s won’t be doing a whole lot of scoreboard watching on Sunday.
In fact, if the burdened Rangers lose or the A’s top Minnesota for the fourth straight day, all eyes will be on uncanny, unlikely back-to-back division winners in Oakland. The A’s set up the comfy scenario on Saturday, by routing the Twins at the Coliseum, 9-1.
“Right now we got to do what we do,” Jarrod Parker said of capturing the AL West title. “We know it’s right there. If we handle what we do and we win games, it’s going to happen.”
So self assured were the A’s on Saturday that they shook off a two-hour rain delay and more clubhouse sewage issues only to smash the Twins in basically two acts—inning number one and number two. Alberto Callaspo’s two-run shot capped Oakland’s five-run second inning and basically ended the afternoon for Minnesota starter Pedro Hernandez. The A’s led 6-0 at that point and Parker did his part, shutting down the Twins through six innings.
Afterwards, the A’s watched intently in their clubhouse—as did a smattering of fans in the stadium—as the Rangers closed out the Royals in Kansas City, 3-1, to keep their divisional hopes alive. Earlier, Cleveland also won, 4-1 over the Astros, to keep the A’s from clinching a wild card playoff berth.
But none of that seemed to matter to the A’s even as the attendants removed the plastic covering the lockers, if only for one more day. Now the best case scenario would be the A’s clinching the division title while they’re on the field Sunday, if Texas loses their game that starts approximately two hours prior to the A’s game at 1:05pm.
“We’re going to continue to go out there and try to play our kind of baseball,” Josh Donaldson said. “We’re going to try and win tomorrow even if (Texas losing) comes about. I’m sure if we’re playing they’ll do something on the loudspeaker or something.”
Since trailing the Rangers on August 30 by three games, the A’s have won 17 of 22, the best run in the major leagues since that date. With 92 wins under their belt, the A’s are just two short of their 2012 total of 94 with seven games yet to play. And the Twins will be happy to see the A’s go away: in the last two weeks, Minnesota has dropped games to the A’s by 15 runs (18-3), 11 runs (11-0) and six runs (8-2) prior to Saturday’s eight-run difference.
Callaspo, Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes each homered on Saturday to support the A’s 16-hit attack. Parker picked up his 12th win of the season and Jerry Blevins pitched two scoreless innings to end it.
On Sunday, the A’s have rookie Sonny Gray slated to throw the first pitch of the afternoon with Minnesota’s Cole De Vries as his opposition.