Published October 03, 2012
| Sports Network
Oakland, CA – It took all 162 games, but the Oakland Athletics overcame a monumental mid-season deficit to clinch the AL West title for the first time since 2006 with a 12-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
Oakland trailed Texas by 13 games on June 30, but the A's have gone a Major League-best 57-26 since, including a three-game sweep of the Rangers to finish the season and claim the 15th AL West crown in franchise history.
Coco Crisp plated a pair and scored twice in Wednesday's clincher, while Brandon Moss added three RBI and a run scored for the A's (94-68), who will visit the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers in the AL Division Series on Saturday.
"We're in the postseason now and the slate is clean," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We have to go out there and play with the same intensity. Just because we're in this position right now doesn't mean you deem this a complete success. We have a lot more work to do."
Evan Scribner (2-0) earned the victory after tossing three scoreless frames in relief of starter A.J. Griffin, who allowed five runs -- four earned -- on seven hits in just 2 2/3 innings.
David Murphy knocked in two runs and Adrian Beltre added an RBI for the Rangers (93-67), who will continue their quest for a third straight World Series appearance when they host the Baltimore Orioles in the first-ever wild card game on Friday.
"You're not going to sit there and lick your wounds going into Friday," Rangers third baseman Young said of losing the division. "You move on and get ready to play. It isn't the way we drew it up, but we can still make our run starting on Friday."
Derek Holland (12-7) was tagged with the loss after giving up three runs -- one earned -- on three hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
The A's grabbed a 1-0 lead on Moss' RBI double in the first, but Texas answered with a five-run third to grab control.
Ian Kinsler smacked a leadoff single, moved to second on a fielder's choice, found third on Josh Hamilton's base hit and finally scored on Beltre's single into left field.
Nelson Cruz followed with a flare into shallow right field that found grass, but second baseman Cliff Pennington alertly fired to second to catch Beltre and leave runners on the corners with two outs.
But Young came through with a two-strike, two-out double that drew chalk down the right-field line to score Hamilton before Murphy followed with a single into right-center field, plating Cruz and Young for a 4-1 advantage.
Mike Napoli then skied a fly ball that catcher George Kottaras was unable to catch and Geovany Soto made the A's pay with a line-drive single into center field to score Murphy for a four-run lead and chase Griffin from the contest.
Scribner entered and induced a Kinsler groundout to end the frame before the A's used a six-run fourth to take a lead they would not surrender.
Moss worked a leadoff walk and scored on Josh Reddick's double. Josh Donaldson followed with a base hit to put runners on the corners and Seth Smith plated Reddick with a line-drive single into center field to bring the A's within 5-3 and knock Texas starter Ryan Dempster from the contest with no outs.
Holland then entered to face pinch-hitter Derek Norris, who moved both runners up a base with a groundout. Two batters later, Crisp sliced a double into the right-field corner to score Donaldson and Smith and tie the game.
Stephen Drew then worked a walk and Yoenis Cespedes followed with a shallow fly ball into center field. Hamilton appeared to have a beat on the ball, but it tipped off the top of his glove and dropped into center field, allowing Crisp and Drew to score for a 7-5 advantage.
The A's tacked on a two-out run in the fifth as Donaldson stroked a one-out single, moved to second on a groundout and then scored when Norris snuck a single past a diving Elvis Andrus at shortstop for an 8-5 lead.
Texas threatened in the seventh as Beltre singled before Ryan Cook entered from the bullpen and served up a double to Cruz.
Cook pitched his way out of trouble however, as he grounded out Young before fanning Murphy and Napoli to strand runners at second and third.
Sean Doolittle recorded a scoreless eighth and the A's plated four in the bottom half to provide some breathing room as Norris began the frame with a blast into the left-field seats.
Crisp then worked a one-out walk before Stephen Drew reached on Kinsler's throwing error. Cespedes walked to load the bases and Robbie Ross entered to face Moss, who scorched a single into right-center field to clear the bases after Cruz bobbled the ball in the outfield.
In the ninth, Grant Balfour retired the Rangers in order, getting Young to fly out to center field for the final out before the celebration ensued.
The A's are just the third team in MLB history to win a division while spending only one day in sole possession of first place, joining the Minnesota Twins (2006) and the Giants (1951) ... The A's are the fifth team in MLB history to win a division after trailing by as many as 13 games ... Texas lost seven of its last nine games to close the year.