Athletics 6, Angels 1
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Dan Haren ended his first season in Oakland on a winning note even if the Athletics will be staying home for the playoffs again.
Haren won his last start of the season to guarantee himself a winning record, beating Los Angeles 6-1 on Wednesday, one night after the Angels clinched the AL West and eliminated Oakland from the postseason.
“It was an important game for me, just being able to finish the season on a good note,” said Haren, who signed a $12.65 million, 4-year contract earlier this week. “This was a start that I’ll think about a little longer because there’s no chance to redeem myself.”
Haren (14-12) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings to wrap up a successful year. Acquired in the offseason from St. Louis in a deal for Mark Mulder, Haren proved to be a reliable starter.
After starting the season 1-7 with a 4.87 ERA, Haren went 13-5 with a 3.30 ERA in his final 24 starts.
“He certainly has had a terrific season,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “He’s going to be a guy on this staff next year that will carry a big load. It’s a good way to celebrate getting a long-term contract.”
With the AL West title clinched, the Angels rested most of their regulars. Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson, Chone Figgins, Adam Kennedy, Bengie Molina and Darin Erstad sat out, and Orlando Cabrera left after batting in the first inning.
Chavez and Kielty provided the bulk of the offense with two-run homers against Paul Byrd (12-11), who is competing for a spot in Los Angeles’ playoff rotation. Byrd allowed five runs—three earned—and six hits in six innings.
“We’ll see how things play out,” Byrd said. “I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I want to win a World Series. Since I was a little kid it’s been on my to-do list.”
Despite clinching the playoffs, the Angels still have something to play for over the final few days of the season. They trail the New York Yankees by two games in the race for the second-best record in the AL and home-field advantage in the first round.
Manager Mike Scioscia said his focus was on giving his starters some rest, pointing out the Angels opened on the road in the first two rounds in 2002 when they won the World Series and had home-field advantage last season when they were swept by Boston in the first round.
“What’s important is how you’re playing, not who you’re playing or where you’re playing,” Scioscia said. “It would be great to have home-field advantage, no doubt about it. But not at the cost of putting some of these guys at serious risk of missing the playoffs.”
The A’s had scored four or fewer runs in all 16 of their losses—six by one run—since taking a two-game lead over the Angels on Aug. 30. But they broke out early against Byrd when Chavez hit his 27th homer in the first inning, giving him 100 RBIs for the fourth time in his career.
Chavez led off the fourth with a double and scored on Nick Swisher’s single to make it 3-1. Kielty, starting for the second time since straining his oblique muscle on Sept. 4, followed with his 10th homer.
Scioscia said the game would have little impact on his playoff rotation. Bartolo Colon and John Lackey have solidified the first two spots with Jarrod Washburn, Byrd and rookie Ervin Santana fighting for the other two.
“There are not any tryouts going on,” Scioscia said. “By now we know the roles the guys can fill. It will be what moves we can make to help win ballgames. That’s what it comes down to.”
A’s CF Mark Kotsay was ejected by 2B umpire Mike Everitt after being called out trying to steal in the third inning. Kotsay had argued with Everitt on Monday night as well, when he was called out on a checked swing. … The A’s can post their sixth straight 90-win season by winning their final four games. Only San Francisco and Oakland won at least 90 games each of the past five years. … Colon will start Thursday on three days’ rest in order to be on his regular turn for the playoff opener next Tuesday.