Oakland Athletics' Jemile Weeks, left, Nate Freiman, center, and Derek Norris, right, celebrate as they run out of the dugout after defeating the Minnesota Twins 11-7 in a baseball game to become American League West champions, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, in Oakland, Calif.
AL West champions!
So you thought last year was a fluke? Forget that. The A's are division champs again. But how do these guys do it? They only had two players make the All-Star team this past summer and they were both pitchers. When the season began, all the forecasters were talking about the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels. It's time to wake up, America! Last October, the A's lost a five-game series to the eventual AL champion Detroit Tigers. This October, Bob Melvin's club plans to avoid an early exit and is eyeing the franchise's first World Series trophy since 1989. Here are five reasons the A's are back in the playoffs. The clincher: Oakland wins on Texas loss Video: Kurt Suzuki thanks fans
Who are these guys?
The lineup isn't made up of household names. Brandon Moss? Jed Lowrie (center)? Josh Donaldson (right)? The A's didn't have one offensive player make the AL All-Star team, but here they are as AL West champs. Four A's have at least 20-plus homers — first baseman Moss leads the club with 27, followed by left fielder Yoenis Cespedes' 26, third baseman Donaldson's 24 and center fielder Coco Crisp's 22. At .306, Donaldson is the only A's player hitting above .300. Excluding Bartolo Colon, the rotation — A.J. Griffin, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Millone and Dan Straily — isn't well know either. That's just the thing. Everyone contributes, which makes Oakland a dangerous foe in October. — Statistics through Sept. 22.
The old man
Bartolo Colon has been nothing but phenomenal as the staff's ace. The 40-year-old veteran, in his 16th year in the majors, is 17-6 with a career-best 2.64 ERA. The Dominican-born righty last won that many games when he was the 2005 AL Cy Young winner, going 21-8 with a .3.48 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels. The 17 victories are only his second double-digit win total since then, too — he was 10-9 last season. Colon and closer Grant Balfour (38 saves) were the only two A's to make this past summer's AL All-Star roster. — Statistics through Sept. 22.
It's a party!
They've been called the most entertaining fans in sports. That's Section 149 in the right-field bleachers of O.co Coliseum. They even have their own Facebook page. The A's feed off the energy of this diehard group — how can they not — and it shows as the club finished with a regular-season home record of 52-29. The rotation owns the best home ERA in the American League at 3.30 — the next best AL team is Tampa Bay at 3.52. Check out this video of the 149 gang from an April game. — Statistics through Sept. 22.
Thank you, Texas
The morning of Sept.6, the Texas Rangers were in first place of the AL West, leading the Oakland A's by a half game, but Ron Washington's club stumbled, allowing the A's to build a 6½-game lead 11 days later. Oakland went 8-2 in that span, while Texas lost nine of 10, including three in a row to the Oakland in Arlington. The losses to the A's were part of a seven-game skid for the Rangers, their longest of the season, and they never could recover.
Here's the poop
Several times this season, O.co Coliseum had sewage problems, causing flooding in both dugouts. Recently, the A's coaches' bathroom suffered a plumbing backup. In June, the Seattle Mariners and A's had to shower in the Raiders' locker room because the baseball clubhouses were flooded. Did this help the A's run to a division title? Maybe. They might have grown used to the stench — or worn nose plugs — while visiting teams were unprepared, leaving them flustered and unable to completely focus on winning a game on the road.