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Oakland A’s clinch 2020 AL West division crown

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On an off-day for Oakland, the Astros lost to push the magic number to zero

Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners
Don’t worry, this is a photo from 2019
Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s didn’t even play a game on Monday, but they still won.

Thanks to a loss by the Houston Astros, the A’s clinched the 2020 AL West division crown, with seven games left to play. Oakland had already guaranteed themselves a postseason berth on Friday, as no worse than a second-place team, but they entered Monday with a magic number of one to finish atop the division in first place. Houston fell to the Seattle Mariners 6-1 to push that magic number down to zero.

This is the first time the A’s have won the division since 2013, though they’ve gone to the postseason three times since then as a Wild Card. It’s their seventh division title in the 21 seasons of the 21st century so far (also 2000, ‘02, ‘03, ‘06, ‘12, ‘13), their 17th since moving to Oakland in 1968, and their 21st overall postseason appearance in Oakland (Wild Card in ‘01, ‘14, ‘18, ‘19).

This trip to October will differ from their last few because they’re guaranteed more than one game. Their last three playoff attempts came in the one-and-done Wild Card Game, and each time they lost and were eliminated. In this year’s expanded bracket, they’ll play a best-of-three series in the new Wild Card Round, with all three games happening at home in the Oakland Coliseum beginning Sept. 29.

The winner of that Wild Card Round series will move on to the normal best-of-five ALDS. That divisional series, along with the subsequent ALCS, will be held at neutral sites in Southern California, with the World Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Click here for the full postseason schedule.

As for who the A’s will face in the first round of the playoffs, that still remains to be seen. At the moment they have the worst record of the three division leaders, which would make them the No. 3 seed and put them up against the No. 6 seed — which is virtually guaranteed to be the Astros, as by far the worst second-place team. However, Oakland is tied in the loss column with the No. 2 seed White Sox, with only one loss more than the No. 1 seed Rays, so those top three clubs could still shuffle over the final week of the regular season.

Here are the seedings at the end of Monday. The Games Back values are separated into tiers for first-place teams (seeds 1-3), second-place teams (seeds 4-6), and wild cards (seeds 7-8), followed by how many games back they are of jumping up to the next tier.

  1. TBR (E-1), 36-19, — GB
  2. CHW (C-1), 34-20, 1.5 GB
  3. OAK (W-1), 33-20, 2 GB
  4. MIN (C-2), 33-22, — GB (or 1.5 GB of CHW)
  5. NYY (E-2), 31-23, 1.5 GB (or 4.5 GB of TBR)
  6. HOU (W-2), 27-27, 5.5 GB (can’t catch OAK)
  7. CLE (WC1), 30-24, — GB (or 2.5 GB of MIN)
  8. TOR (WC2), 28-26, 2 GB (or 3 GB of NYY)

There aren’t any champagne celebrations this year, but that didn’t stop national treasure Dallas Braden from having his own at home.

The season has only been one-third as long as a normal campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the A’s have still packed in plenty of memorable moments. From an Opening Day walk-off grand slam and then another walk-off slam several days later, to a pair of epic 9th-inning comebacks against the Giants amid a season series thrashing, to a benches-clearing brawl with the villainous Astros, to the long-awaited debut seasons of top prospects Jesús Luzardo and Sean Murphy, to a game played on Mars and a doubleheader played in the smoking section of an ‘80s bar, they did their best to squeeze a full summer’s worth of highlights into just two months.

Game 1 is one week away!