The 94-68 A’s will face the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS
Once 13 games out, the A’s occupied first place by themselves for the first time all season after Grant Balfour retired Michael Young on a fly out to secure a 12-5 victory on Wednesday. Oakland joined the 2006 Minnesota Twins and the 1951 New York Giants as the only clubs who only day atop the standings was the last day of the season.
Last season, the low-budget A’s were 74-88. Featuring a roster that is composed of the lowest payroll in the American League, Oakland trailed Texas by five games with nine remaining on the schedule.
The 94-68 A’s will face the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS.
“It’s been a pretty special year,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said. “We wanted to create a team that had a chance to get better from the first day forward. That was the expectation set. We just didn’t know where we were going to start from, and in fairness, maybe we were a little further ahead when we started than maybe anyone anticipated.”
On Wednesday, the A’s received three RBI from first baseman Brandon Moss, a former Red Sox prospect who bounced around from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia before signing as a free agent with Oakland last off-season. He had 15 Major League home runs over parts of five Major League seasons before slugging 21 in 265 at-bats this year.
Pitching (supported by just enough offense) is why the A’s are American League West champions, and it was on display again on Wednesday. Rookie right-hander A.J. Griffin was roughed up, allowing five runs (four earned) and seven hits in 2.2 innings. The bullpen emerged to toss 6.1 scoreless frames, led by three innings from Evan Scribner in relief of Griffin.
Even without Bartolo Colon (who was suspended for using illegal PEDs), in-season injuries to Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson, and minus left-hander Dallas Braden (who missed the entire season), the A’s maintained the second-best pitching staff in the American League with a 3.48 ERA.
Anderson is expected to pitch against the Tigers in the ALDS, bolstering Oakland’s chances to continue their improbable run.