The Oakland A’s are headed back to the postseason after clinching their second consecutive AL West championship on Sunday. The title was officially won when the Kansas City Royals knocked off the Texas Rangers 4-0 on Justin Maxwell's walk-off grand slam in the tenth inning.
Much like the Atlanta Braves earlier in the day, it's an anti-climatic ending for Oakland as they were forced to hold off on their celebration until after they defeated the Minnesota Twins, but the crowd at O.co Coliseum did erupt into a long ovation when the news came in. For Oakland, it’s the A’s fifth AL West title since 2000, which is tops in the division over that time frame. They last won consecutive divisions at the height of “Moneyball” back in 2002-2003.
The final standings are not likely to reflect how close the West division race really was throughout the summer. In fact, the A’s only seized control of the division in September, picking up 11 games in the standings since Aug. 29. That's largely due to the Rangers beginning the month 5-15, but the A's have also won 20 of their last 26. A remarkable stretch of baseball.
The circumstances were much different in 2012, when the A's had to rally back from a 13 game deficit at the all-star break to clinch on the final day of the season. This year, they can relax a little bit, though there's still some jostling to be done in terms of home field advantage in the postseason over the final week. Oakland is presently two games behind the Boston Red Sox for the No. 1 seed, but holds a slim one game lead over Detroit for No. 2.
There's work to be done, but the A's deserve a moment to sit back and let their success sink in. Welcome back to October.