OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland Athletics are AL West champions again.
The A's clinched their 16th division title and 26th postseason appearance when Texas lost 4-0 at Kansas City on Sunday. Oakland was hosting the Minnesota Twins.
With the Twins batting in the third, word started to circulate around the Oakland Coliseum of Justin Maxwell's two-out grand slam that beat the Rangers in the 10th inning to seal the division title for the A's. Some players, noticing the high-fives and hollers in the stands, kept glancing at the manual scoreboard in left field.
The ending of the Royals-Rangers game was shown on the video board between innings. There were no noticeable celebrations in the dugout.
It was quite a different scene than a year ago, when the A's won the AL West on the final day of the regular season by beating Texas. This year's run to the postseason is far less surprising but equally remarkable.
The A's had the fourth-lowest opening day payroll at about $65 million. They have a roster full of mostly anonymous and up-and-coming players. And their home is an old, dual-sport stadium where sewage has leaked in the clubhouses and the dugouts in one sickening scene after another this summer.
The A's still emerged as the team to watch this October in the Bay Area with the San Francisco Giants — winners of two of the last three World Series — far out of the postseason picture. Oakland had won three straight, 11 of 12, and 12 of 15 to move a season-high 29 games over .500 entering play Sunday.