The Oakland Athletics finished a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers today to capture the American League West crown. Reminiscent of Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, the Rangers never knew what hit them. Josh Hamilton‘s misplay on a fly ball opened the flood gates and the A’s went on to score a 12-5 win. The entire city of Dallas is stunned. Needing to win only one game in the three-game series and leading today’s game 5-1, the Rangers flat-out choked.
Watching and listening to the Rangers telecast was oh so entertaining- talk about a bunch of unhappy campers. I love it! Now the Rangers must wait and see if they will host a one-game wildcard showdown or travel to the East Coast. The two time defending A.L. Champs will be facing possible elimination against either the Orioles or Yankees on Friday.
Like most of the baseball world, the Rangers may have underestimated the upstart Athletics. Once again, Billy Beane did an unbelievable job of putting a playoff team on the field on a shoestring budget.
Beane traded away his closer and two of his best starting pitchers in the offseason and everyone assumed the A’s wouldn’t be a factor in 2012. But three of the players acquired in those trades payed immediate dividends and helped carry the team over the top. Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone aptly filled the two vacated rotation spots and Ryan Cook became a dependable arm at the back end of the bullpen.
People thought Beane was crazy when he signed unproven Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a long-term contract after making the previously mentioned trades. But, once again, Beane proved to be a genius.
The Athletics trailed Texas by 13 games in the standings on the first day of July prior to staging the most unlikely of comebacks. A.J. Griffin, a thirteenth round pick by Oakland in the 2010 draft, started today’s game but was knocked out early. Despite today’s rough outing Griffin played a key role during the A’s late season surge, winning seven of eight decisions while posting a 2.71 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 14 starts.
Free Agent castoff Brandon Moss also had a huge impact for Oakland down the stretch, posting a .287/.354/.594 slash line in 83 games. The arrival of the A’s as a playoff team means the Astros will face even tougher competition than expected when they move to the A.L. West next season. But seeing how the Athletics made it happen lends a certain amount of hope to Astros Fans.