Athletics

A's make history, take the AL West

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A's make history, take the AL West

BOX SCORE
OAKLAND -- Well, they did it. The Oakland Athletics are the 2012 American League West Champions and it is safe to say no one saw it coming outside of the guys in the clubhouse, and even they looked a little stunned at times when realizing they were wearing grey shirts with the words "2012 American League West Champions" across their chests.

Not a lot of the so-called baseball experts believed this could happen. They weren't being cynical, just realists. The A's were 13 games back on June 30, they were five out with nine games to play -- a deficit no team in Major League Baseball history has ever come back from. They had lost players like Brandon McCarthy, Brandon Inge, Bartolo Colon, and Brett Anderson all in a much-too-cruelly-short span of time. They survived a daunting 10-game road trip through Detroit, New York, and Texas that was supposed to sink their season.

Heck, they traded away almost every player that had any value in the offseason. Yet here they are. Popping the champagne for the second time in the last three days.

They finished the regular season with 94 wins, 26 games over .500, their 10th best win total in Oakland history.

"I don't think any of us have ever been in this situation maybe but three or four guys," rookie catcher Derek Norris said. "I just think we are too young and dumb to know the difference between what's pressure and what's baseball, you know?"

The A's never held sole possession of first place in the American League West until they won the last game of the season to take it from the Texas Rangers. Oakland is only the third team in the history of Major League Baseball to clinch a pennant with just one day alone atop the division.

It's not how you start, it's how you finish.

"One day don't matter," outfielder Josh Reddick said. "It's like a race you can lead 300 of 301 laps if you don't get the last laugh it don't count."

With the back-to-back defending American League Champions visiting the Oakland Coliseum, the A's had a very tough task ahead of them. Sweep the Rangers and win the West. The A's played loose, insisted on having fun, and didn't wear the pressure. As the games played out the guys in Green and Gold didn't look like a young inexperienced team with their backs against the wall. The team with eight players on the 2012 All-Star team, however, looked like they were pressing.

"They were the ones with everything to lose today," Brandon Moss said. "They had the division lead almost the entire season. They were trying to cling to it. We had nothing to lose, everything was ours to win."

The A's took the first game of the series 4-3 which clinched them a spot in the postseason and celebrated like they won the lottery. Then they came back to work the next day and defeated the Rangers 3-1. Then on Wednesday, with everything on the line, they broke out for a 12-5 win and achieved the truly improbable, but apparently not impossible.

"I've seen a lot of things happen before that people say have never happened," Moss said. "In this game anything can happen. Just like how we were supposed to lose 100 games and almost won 100 games. That's not supposed to happen but that's why you play the games."

The A's did it in front of sell-out crowd of 36,067. The fans were on their feet, deafeningly loud at times, and provided the team with a spark. For a fan base that is often ridiculed for it's poor attendance, they showed up when it mattered the most. It didn't go unnoticed.

"When we came out there it was electric from the moment we came out on the field," Melvin said. "And hopefully the fans know that. They went a long way in us coming back and being able to finish it off today, our hats are off to them and we really appreciate the support."

The A's will start the postseason on the road against the Detroit Tigers. Winning the West is a feather in their cap, but the postseason is just beginning. Now they have to contend with a Tigers team that has Justin Verlander, the reigning MVP and Cy Young in the starting rotation, and Miguel Cabrera, who won the first triple crown since Carl Yastremski did it 1967, in the lineup. The A's could be considered the underdogs again, a role that suits them better than Kelly Green, Fort Knox Gold, and Wedding Gown White.

"Ever since the first day I've been here it's always been all about everybody saying the A's can't compete with the payroll, can't compete with this team and that team," Norris said. "You know what? We are better off if we are doubted it just keeps giving us the extra energy and I hope that they keep doing it."

They certainly aren't lacking in confidence.

"I wouldn't want to play us," third baseman Josh Donaldson said. "We've got guys up and down the lineup that are coming through at any given point. We've got a bullpen that is nails right now. Our starting pitching depending on the day has been nails."

"People say this is a miraculous season, or a Cinderella season," Moss said. "With the pitchers we have and the hitters we have all we are doing it playing to our ability."

The A's have reasons to be confident. Their pitching staff finished the season with a 3.48 ERA, which was second best in the American League. Their 111 home runs since the All-Star break led all of baseball. The 53 wins accumulated by rookie starting pitchers were the most in major league history. The A's made history on Wednesday, but maybe it is less of a surprise than we thought.

A's minor league coach Webster Garrison tests positive for coronavirus

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AP

A's minor league coach Webster Garrison tests positive for coronavirus

The coronavirus has touched the A's organization.

A's minor league coach Webster Garrison has contracted COVID-19 and is on a ventilator, his fiancé Nikki Trudeaux said in a social media post Friday.

On Saturday, Trudeaux posted an update on Garrison's condition, stating that he hasn't suffered any setbacks.

The A's issued a statement to MLB.com's Martin Gallegos regarding Garrison:

“We want to extend our sincerest thoughts and prayers to our colleague for a speedy recovery. We are committed to providing him and his family with support and care. Every person on our team plays a critical role to our success and we look forward to his return to the field when he is healthy.

“During this pandemic, the health and safety of our players, employees, and community is our top priority. We are in this together and will get through this together. We are following MLB suggested protocols, CDC guidelines, and local public health recommendations for care. Finally, out of respect for this individual's privacy, at this time, we will not comment further regarding his situation.”

Last season, Garrison served as the manager for the A's High-A affiliate in Stockton, and is expected to coach one of the A's rookie-level teams in Arizona this season, The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reported.

The 54-year-old Garrison was selected in the second round of the 1983 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Garrison, a first baseman and second baseman, signed with the A's organization on two separate occasions (1991 and 1996), and appeared in five big league games in 1996.

Former Astro Evan Gattis takes shot at Mike Fiers, lazily backtracks

Former Astro Evan Gattis takes shot at Mike Fiers, lazily backtracks

A's starter Mike Fiers caused a storm this offseason when he blew the whistle on the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal.

Fiers, who played for the Astros during their 2017 World Series-winning season in which they used technology to steal signs, has been almost universally praised as a hero for bringing the scandal to light.

But one of his former teammates apparently isn't happy Fiers pulled back the curtain on the Astros' trash-can banging ways.

After Gattis' posting caused a stir, the former Astro backtracked, claiming he has no ill-will toward Fiers.

It was a weird attempt at a flex from Gattis, who, even with the help of trash cans and technology, hit just .097 with a .129 slugging percentage on offspeed pitches in 2017.

Oof.

[RELATED: Fiers details mentality behind two career no-hitters]

Gattis isn't the only former player to call out Fiers for his whistleblowing, as both Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz criticized the A's right-hander for the way in which he went about it.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow both were fired after MLB suspended for a season for their role in the rampant cheating.

The season currently is delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. But when the season does begin, the first meeting between Fiers and his old mates will be one for the books.