The Athletics' Eric Sogard, right, stole third base in front of the Twins' Trevor Plouffe and third base umpire Marvin Hudson during the sixth inning Sunday.
Beck Diefenbach, Associated Press
La Velle Neal Star Tribune (incorrect spelling is Lavelle)
Jemile Weeks, left, and Coco Crisp celebrated Oakland’s second division title in a row.
Oakland finishes off sweep against the Twins
- Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III
- Star Tribune
- September 23, 2013 - 6:58 AM
OAKLAND, CALIF. – The Twins have a long way to go to get where the Athletics are, but hopefully they paid attention this weekend.
In case they didn’t, they could get a couple more chances to see what success looks like.
Oakland made mincemeat of the Twins and roared to its second straight AL West crown during an 11-7 win Sunday. In the second inning, two time zones away, the Royals’ Justin Maxwell was hitting a walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning to beat the Rangers, dropping the A’s magic number to zero.
A’s fans let loose with cheers when the result was posted on the scoreboard, waving towels and flags. Oakland was in the middle of a six-run inning at the time and didn’t let up, scoring a run in each of the next five innings, crushing fat pitches and continuing an undeniable dominance of the Twins this season.
Oakland won six of the seven games in the season series by a cumulative score of 68-23. The A’s batted .354 and slugged 16 home runs.
“Everyone was running to the bat rack against this team,’’ said A’s outfielder Josh Reddick as champagne was poured over him.
Twins pitchers gave up 59 earned runs in 59 innings, a beatdown in every way imaginable.
“Look at what they have done,’’ Twins righthander Liam Hendriks said. “They have blown us out of the water the last three days. It will be interesting to see how they do in the playoffs.’’
The Twins scored on Oswaldo Arcia’s single in the first — the first of a career-high six RBI for Arcia, which tied the Twins’ rookie record set by Tony Oliva in 1964. Twins righthander Cole De Vries, however, walked three batters during Oakland’s six-run second.
Oakland completed a four-game sweep of the Twins for the first time since 1981 — that’s the old Met days — and the first time ever at home. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was asked before the game if the pummeling by the A’s was demoralizing his players.
“They should be just the opposite,’’ Gardenhire said. “It should be about making them hungry to see what the other guys are doing over there. Right now, it is demoralizing when you’re sitting there in the dugout and you’re getting beat like that.’’
More could be in store for Gardenhire’s gang. The manager remains three victories shy of 1,000 for his career, but that milestone is becoming elusive.
The Twins flew home Sunday after going 34-47 on the road this season and now face two more teams, Detroit and Cleveland, in the thick of the playoff race.
Detroit’s magic number to clinch the AL Central is two, which will likely disappear at Target Field in the next three days. Don’t think so? Come on, Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and 20-game winner Max Scherzer are lined up to start.
After the Tigers leave, Cleveland will arrive, and the Indians are only 1 ½ games ahead of Texas in the wild-card race. They, too, could use Target Field as their own VIP section if they clinch a playoff spot. Three teams in one week’s span could pop corks because of the Twins.
The Twins, meanwhile, have clinched their third straight 90-loss season.
“We don’t want to see all this,’’ Gardenhire said. “We need to play good baseball this last week and see if we can stay away from those things.’’
Sorry, the Twins have no choice this week. Success will be all around them, just not in their dugout. If their noses get rubbed in it, they might as well remember the smell.
La Velle E. Neal III • email@example.com
© 2013 Star Tribune