Now that the Oakland Athletics have secured their second straight American League West title they turn their attention to the best overall record in the league when they start a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium.
Oakland wrapped up the division crown on Sunday, as Coco Crisp finished with a three-run home run and four RBI to help the A's get past Minnesota, 11-7. Eric Sogard added two hits, two runs scored and drove in two for the Athletics, who received solo homers from Daric Barton and Jed Lowrie en route to a series sweep.
The division title had actually been wrapped up earlier Sunday when Kansas City beat Texas with a 10th-inning grand slam.
"It's just a whole different feel this year," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of the A's securing their second straight AL West crown. "Because we did expect to be here this year."
Sonny Gray (4-3) allowed four runs on seven hits over his five-inning start for the win.
Oakland, which has won 13 of 16, now finds itself 1 1/2 games back of AL East- champion Boston for the league's best record. It also has a two-game edge over AL Central-leading Detroit for home field in a possible division series.
"It doesn't surprise us. Hopefully, we surprise some people," Crisp said. "We still have some time left in this season that we have to finish. We just have to keep going out there playing. Hopefully, we can make our situation (better) going into the postseason, but I'm happy that we're at least going there. Anything can happen in the postseason. Obviously, where we finished is not the ultimate goal, I don't believe, for any team. Hopefully, we can finish up on top."
Oakland had planned to start A.J. Griffin, but it appears as if Tommy Milone will get the call instead. Milone is 11-9 with a 4.17 ERA and beat Texas last Sunday in his most recent start.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, will counter with righty Garrett Richards, who is 7-6 with a 3.77 ERA. Richards had won three starts in a row before receiving a no- decision on Tuesday against Oakland. Richards pitched well in that one though, allowing just a run in seven innings of a 2-1 loss.
"I feel like I've some major strides this year in a positive way," said Richards, who has pitched to a 2.10 ERA in his last four starts. "I feel good about where I'm at right now."
Los Angeles was denied a sweep on Sunday, as it fell to Seattle, 3-2. Still, it was only the second loss in the last eight tries for the Angels, who are only three games under .500.
"These guys have gone through a long season, and they've played hard. We're just not going to have anything to show for it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I know for them, a goal of .500 is something they can at least look in the mirror and say, 'We had a bad year, but we kept playing hard and played better at the end.' For me personally, you always want these guys to feel positive and moving forward. But finishing .500, we can't let it mask any of the things that we need to improve on."
Oakland is 10-6 against the Angels this season.