OAKLAND -- For the first time since 2006 the A's are heading to the postseason. They've clinched a spot in the American League Wild Card game with a 4-3 win over the Rangers. As the A's pop champagne and party in celebration they are now tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the top Wild Card spot and Oakland holds the tiebreaker. On June 30, the A's lost 7-2 to the Rangers and fell a seemingly insurmountable 13 games behind Texas. Oakland responded by going 55-26 from that point on and now sit just one game behind the Rangers with a chance to seize the division title with two games to play.
Starting Pitcher ReportEntering Monday, Jarrod Parker was 2-0 in his career against the Rangers. He was surgical in the first two innings. He carved up the Rangers, retiring six of the first seven batters he faced on 21 pitches.Parker got in trouble in the third inning. He allowed a leadoff walk and a single to Mitch Moreland. With runners on the corners and no outs he struck out Ian Kinsler. Elvis Andrus drove home the Rangers first run with a soft single. Then Parker struck out Josh Hamilton swinging and got Adrian Beltre to ground out to end the inning.With just six pitches Parker struck out Hamilton swinging in each of his first two plate appearances. He got him to fly out to end the inning on three pitches in the fifth.Parker's second run allowed came on a solo homer hit by Michael Young. He went opposite field on a 2-0 fastball and drove the ball over the high wall in right-center field. Crisp actually made a leaping attempt on the play as the ball barely cleared the wall. Napoli hit a towering drive to center field to make it a one-run game. It was Napoli's 24th homer of the season. It came on a 3-2 fastball and knocked Parker out of the game. Parker finished his night with six-plus innings pitched. He allowed three runs on six hits and walked three batters while striking out six. The two homers allowed for Parker tied a season-high mark. The Orioles hit two homers against Parker on July 27 in Baltimore.At the PlateThe A's jumped out to an early lead in the first inning. Oakland collected back-to-back hits from Coco Crisp and Jonny Gomes to start the inning, but Yoenis Cespedes grounded into a double play. With two outs and Crisp on third, Chris Carter drew a walk. Josh Reddick, who has been plagued with runners in scoring position this season, drove a two-out RBI single up the middle to score the first run. Josh Donaldson drew a walk to load the bases. Then Rangers' pitcher Martin Perez balked in the second run of the game.The A's got two off Perez in the first, but five days ago when they faced him in Texas they knocked him out of the game in the first inning by scoring five runs on six hits. The young lefty settled down and held the A's scoreless over the next three innings and retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced.Oakland's offense knocked Perez out of the game in the fifth inning by hitting back-to-back doubles. Adam Rosales scorched a ball into the right-center field gap and scored when Crisp doubled to center field. Crisp stole third base, his 39th of the season, and scored on a shallow sacrifice fly to center field hit by pinch hitter Brandon Moss. Crisp made a perfect slide home barely evading the tag of Mike Napoli after he caught the ball just to the left of home plate.The A's rallied with two outs in the sixth inning. Derek Norris drew a walk and Cliff Pennington smacked a pinch-hit single. Crisp stepped to the plate but popped out to second base to end the inning.Bullpen ReportSean Doolittle entered in relief of Parker. He pitched a clean inning and stuck out one batter. Ryan Cook took over in the eighth. He retired Hamilton to start the inning, got Beltre to pop out, and struck out Nelson Cruz looking.Grant Balfour entered in the ninth inning with a trip to the playoffs on the line. He hit 97-MPH on the radar gun and struck out the side.AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 21,162. The Oakland faithful were very loud on Monday. It looks like they got a large walk up crowd.Dot RaceGold wins the dot race after getting rear-ended across the finish line. There goes my theory that the dot color that corresponds with the A's uniform color wins.Up NextTravis Blackley (5-4, 4.00) takes the mound for the A's. He has struggled mightily in his last two starts lasting just three innings. He was knocked out after just one inning in his previous start, which was against the Rangers in Arlington, after allowing five runs.The Rangers will send left-handed pitcher Matt Harrison (18-10, 3.26 ERA) to the mound. Last Thursday he allowed four runs against the A's but got the win.