OAKLAND – There was only one fitting way to cap this day.
Having learned they clinched a division title early Sunday via a Texas Rangers loss, the Oakland A’s added the exclamation point with an 11-7 victory to cap a four-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins.
They hammered out 11 hits and hit three homers, and when it was over, the team poured out of the dugout and formed a mob in the infield. Players embraced and quickly started changing into gray T-shirts commemorating their second straight American League West championship.
It’s the A’s 16th A.L. West title, and their 17th postseason appearance since moving to Oakland in 1968.
Starting pitching report
It wasn’t the sharpest outing from Sonny Gray (4-3), but it didn’t have to be. He gave up a run in the first. Then, shortly after fans delivered a standing ovation when the A’s officially clinched, Gray served up Oswaldo Arcia’s three-run homer in the third that closed the gap to 6-4.
Perhaps the unusual circumstances threw the rookie off. Regardless, he still seems squarely in the mix for a postseason rotation spot. The only question is whether the A’s decide the 23-year-old is piling up too many innings. He’s at 177 1/3 innings right now, eclipsing his old career high by about 25.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said before the game that he didn’t feel Gray’s workload was an issue at this point.
Brett Anderson gave up a run over two innings with three strikeouts and no walks.
Ryan Cook turned in one of the most eventful scoreless innings of relief that you’ll see. The right-hander walked his first batter, Arcia, on four pitches. Then he struck out Josmil Pinto and Chris Parmelee but issued two more walks to load the bases. He finished his inning by striking out Eric Fryer on a nasty slider.
His velocity was good, touching 96 mph, and considering his recent struggles of late, Melvin and A’s pitching coach Curt Young probably considered it encouraging he was able to get through a full inning unscathed.
At the plate
Big scoring rallies have marked this four-week rush in which the A’s grabbed control of the division. It was fitting that they took the lead in Sunday’s game with a six-run second inning off Twins right-hander Cole De Vries (0-1).
All the damage happened with two outs. Three straight walks loaded the bases, then Eric Sogard blooped a two-run single to left field. De Vries hung a 1-2 breaking ball to Coco Crisp, who drove a three-run home run just inside the right field foul pole. After Jed Lowrie singled, Josh Donaldson lined a double off the wall in right-center to score him and make it 6-1.
After learning they clinched an inning later, the A’s didn’t let up. Daric Barton homered in the third, Lowrie added a solo shot in the fourth and single runs in the fifth and sixth pushed Oakland into double digits.
The A’s entered the day with 65 home runs over their past 42 games since Aug. 9. No other team in the majors had more than 49 over that same span.
Remember when we all thought of Crisp as that speedy table-setter? Over his last 29 games, he has 12 homers and 25 RBI.
In the field
Gray made a throwing error on a pickoff throw to first base that helped set up Minnesota’s first-inning run. In the next inning, Donaldson made a diving stop and throw to first to get Darin Mastroianni.
A crowd of 30,589 showed up expecting a party and got one.
The A’s open a six-game road trip Monday at Angel Stadium that will conclude the regular season. A.J. Griffin (14-9, 3.78) takes the mound, with right-hander Garrett Richards (7-6, 3.77) facing the A’s for the second time in six days. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.