OAKLAND, Calif. -- Well before the end of their game against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, the Oakland A's knew that they were the American League West champions.
The Texas Rangers' loss earlier in the day gave the A's the division title for the second season in a row, but by that time, Oakland already had taken firm control of its own game, scoring six runs with two outs in the second inning en route to an 11-7 win over Minnesota.
Last year, the A's won the West on the last day of the season. They did it with a week to go this time around, giving the team plenty of time to set up its pitching for the postseason and to rest key players as needed.
In the third inning of the A's game, the Kansas City Royals beat the Rangers 4-0 in 10 innings on Justin Maxwell's two-out grand slam.
Just before that, the A's put up a half-dozen runs on Twins starter Cole De Vries, who retired the first two hitters in the second before walking three in a row and giving up a two-run single to No. 9 hitter Eric Sogard. Coco Crisp followed with a three-run homer to right, and then Jed Lowrie singled and scored on a double by Josh Donaldson.
Daric Barton added a solo homer in the third and Lowrie a solo shot in the fourth; both came off Minnesota reliever Shairon Maris. Josh Reddick hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth, Brandon Moss had one in the sixth, and Crisp knocked a two-out RBI single in the seventh.
The A's have hit 68 homers in the past 43 games, by far a major league high in that span. Washington is next, with 50.
Oakland starter Sonny Gray (4-3) threw five innings of four-run ball. De Vries (0-1) was charged with six runs in two innings.
Crisp's steal in the sixth inning gave him 20 for the season, making him the A's 10th 20-20 player and the first since Ruben Sierra in 1993.
The A's still would like to continue their hot streak in order to secure home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Boston holds the league's best record, at 95-62. Oakland is 93-63 with six games remaining. Detroit is 91-65.
The A's clinched the 17th postseason appearance in Oakland history and 25th appearance in franchise history. Only the Yankees (51) and Dodgers (27) have more. The A' have won 16 AL West titles. Only the Yankees (18) and Braves (16) have more division championships.
The Twins have lost six of their past seven games, and they dropped each of their final six games against the A's -- who scored at least eight runs in all six of those games and outscored Minnesota 68-22 for the season.
NOTES: Twins C Joe Mauer (concussion) had a full workout at Target Field, and he has been symptom free for several days. Mauer potentially could appear in one of Minnesota's final games this week. ... Minnesota RHP Anthony Swarzak remained away from the team for personal reasons but is expected to rejoin the team Monday. ... A's manager Bob Melvin said that 1B Nate Freiman (abdominal strain) was not available Sunday and might not play in this week's series against the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim.