Twins find themselves playing baseball at Oakland's party

BY foxsports • September 22, 2013

Before the Oakland Athletics topped the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, they had already clinched the American League West. A loss by the Texas Rangers sealed that fate for the A's.

Unfortunately for the Twins, the game still had to be played.

Even after they clinched the AL West, the A's beat Minnesota by an 11-7 final to complete a four-game sweep -- the first time ever that Minnesota was swept in four games in Oakland -- and dropped the Twins to 34-47 on the road as Minnesota closed out its road schedule. As catcher Josmil Pinto struck out for the game's final out, Oakland's players celebrated near the pitcher's mound as the champions of the West.

"Congratulations to the Oakland A's. They're a fun baseball team to watch," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "They get after the game pretty hard. They believe in themselves.  . . . They play the game the right way. They respect the game, so congratulations to those guys."

The Athletics swept the series by scoring at least eight runs in each of the four games, outscoring the Twins 39-14 over those games. Minnesota has now allowed double-digits runs in ten games this year, including three times in the last seven games. Twins starting pitcher Cole De Vries put his team in an early hole, allowing six runs on four hits in just two innings of work. As Oakland took a big lead early, it seemed evident that the A's would indeed be popping champagne and celebrating a division title Sunday as the Twins watched.

Midway through the game, Oakland's fans began to stir and cheer in the stands when it was announced that the Rangers lost to Kansas City on a walk-off grand slam. That loss by Texas clinched the division for the A's, who began to hug each other in their dugout.

Still, there was a game to be played.

"You just try to keep winning ball games," Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki said of hearing the cheers. "It's one of those things where you've got to keep playing. It's tough to do, but you've got to do it."

There's a chance the Twins could see yet another team clinch a division against them when Detroit comes to Minneapolis this week for a three-game series beginning Monday. The Tigers are on the cusp of clinching the American League Central -- their magic number is at two -- and could do so at Target Field over the next few days. The Cleveland Indians are off Monday, meaning the Tigers can only lower that number to one with a win in the series opener. Still, it's possible that Detroit could be celebrating its AL Central crown in Minnesota.

After seeing Oakland celebrate in front of them Sunday, the Twins will do whatever they can to avoid watching the Tigers party at Target Field this week. That won't be an easy feat, however: Detroit is scheduled to start its three best pitchers in Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer.

FOX Sports North's Kevin Gorg contributed to this report.

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