Bay City News Service—Oakland fans who have long been thirsty for good news from their beloved A's were quenched with Champagne Wednesday.
In their final game of the regular season, the Oakland A's came from behind in a stunning victory to match the improbable story of their season and beat the Texas Rangers 12-5 in the Oakland Coliseum.
And today's victory means A's baseball is far from over. The A's clinched the American League West division, toppling the two-time division champion Rangers and leading the division standings for the first time this year.
The Rangers have now been placed in the precarious position of having their playoff hopes dependent on one game. They will play the Baltimore Orioles in a single elimination game on Friday, while the A's rest up and prepare to travel to Detroit to begin the best-of-five American League Division Series.
An Oakland A's flag was raised over Oakland City Hall today, and Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement, "Just like the great city where they play, no one should count them out or underestimate what they can do."
When the 2012 Major League Baseball season opened in late March, not even the most avid Oakland A's fans could have guessed how the year would play out.
Coming off a 74-88 year in 2011, finishing in third place in the American League West, 22 games behind the division champion Rangers, not many baseball pundits expected much in 2012. But the A's finished the year with a 94-68 record, one game better than the Rangers, after fighting their way back from 13 games behind earlier in the season, and even still trailing by five games last week.
Oakland never gave up this year, winning the last six games of the season, and completing a three-game sweep of the Rangers in Oakland Wednesday.
"To be able to come back from where we were, to be able to take the western division, I was just thrilled with the other night let alone tonight," A's manager Bob Melvin said after the game. "This is a pretty amazing season. You don't see this happen too often."
Melvin went on to call the A's team, "a selfless group that was just in it to win."
"They didn't care about anything else," Melvin said. "It was all about the team and I think that showed up certainly."
First baseman Brandon Moss said the low expectations for the team this season led them to enjoy the game rather than worry about whether they were performing as expected.
"We've enjoyed every step of the way, there was never any pressure on us because we were supposed to lose 100 games. I think we just came to the park every day and played the best baseball we could," Moss said.
It looked like the division might have slipped away from Oakland's grasp early in Wednesday's game, after Texas took a 5-1 lead in the third inning. But for a team used to coming from behind, that was no problem, and the A's managed to tie up the score at 5-5 on a two-RBI double by veteran outfielder Coco Crisp in the bottom of the fourth inning.
A fielding error by center fielder Josh Hamilton then let the A's take the lead 7-5, and Oakland never looked back, never letting Texas score again and adding to their lead for a final score of 12-5.
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