The Oakland Athletics are the hottest team in the American League, and even Mother Nature couldn't steal their thunder on Saturday. She did her best to rain on their parade, but, after a two-hour delay, the A's improved their AL-best September record to 15-5 with a convincing 9-1 victory over the Twins. Things were looking cloudy at the end of August, but Oakland now finds itself one win away from clinching its second straight AL West title with a week left in the regular season.
The game was supposed to begin at 1:05, but a heavy rainstorm foiled those plans. The sewage acted up again, poop jokes abounded, and fun was had by all (except for whoever had to fix the problem, who probably had a really crappy day). The rain finally ended, and, after two hours and one minute, the field was ready for a baseball game.
The A's got out to a lightning-quick start in the 1st, stringing together three singles to get on the board right away. The run-scoring hit came courtesy of Alberto Callaspo, who made on the ugliest swings I've ever seen (pictured above) and somehow pulled a pitch several inches off the plate into left field. He would ultimately go 4-for-5 today; he's got a five-game hitting streak and is 7-for-11 in this series.
Unlike the morning's rain, Oakland didn't let up after that early run. They scored five more times in the 2nd inning to sink starter Pedro Hernandez and make the rest of the game a formality. Michael Choice started things off by beating out an infield single and then advancing to 2nd on an errant throw despite the fact that it bounced up and hit him in the giggleberries. Barton lined a single to left to move Choice to 3rd, and Chris Young followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in the rookie. The A's then decided that small ball wasn't working quickly enough, so they searched for faster ways to score runs. Josh Donaldson scorched a double off the left field wall, and Yoenis Cespedes smashed a single through the hole in the left side to plate Barton and Donaldson. Alberto Callaspo then capped the inning with a monster two-run homer to left. Hernandez eventually got out of the inning, but the damage was done -- Oakland now led 6-0.
While the A's were flooding the scoreboard with runs, Jarrod Parker cruised through six easy innings. Minnesota never put more than one runner on base in any inning, and the only run came on a solo homer by Josmil Pinto. Parker wasn't particularly sharp, going to seven three-ball counts and recording only one strikeout, but he got away with it against a lineup consisting mostly of made-up names.
The A's tacked on two more in the 7th on a home run by Kurt Suzuki, and finished off their scoring with a solo shot by Cespedes in the 8th. Suzuki is now hitting .313/.353/.563 in 34 plate appearances as an Athletic this season, and Cespedes has homered in his last three games. The A's have 79 homers since the All-Star Break, which is the most in the Majors. I could go on about this game, but the point is that the Twins are really bad right now and the A's are really, really hot. Let's just leave it at that.
It's mid-September, and this is the time that you want to play your best ball. We all know that the team who wins the World Series is not necessarily the best one, but rather the hottest one. Well, the A's are one of the best teams and the hottest team, so they just need to keep rolling for a few more weeks. This is what we've all been waiting for, folks. The playoffs are one win away from being a reality, home-field advantage is a distinct probability for at least the first round, and the team is healthy and firing on all cylinders.
They've beaten the good teams. They've beaten the bad teams. They've beaten Mother Nature. And, with one more win, they will have beaten the odds and won the AL West. Just plain crazy.
The A's go for the sweep tomorrow at 1:05pm. Sonny Gray faces right-hander Cole De Vries. Nico will have your thread. I'll be at the game, hoping to see a celebration on the field -- who else is going?