Before the Oakland Athletics took the field on Sunday for their final home game of the regular season, they needed a win against Minnesota or a Texas loss to clinch the AL-West title. Fortunately, they got both.
The A’s sealed the division crown -- their second in as many years -- after the Royals’ Justin Maxwell hit a walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning to defeat the Rangers 4-0.
Wind of Maxwell’s walk-off first started to circulate in the third inning of the Athletics’ Sunday afternoon tilt in Oakland. But it wasn’t until the left-field scorekeeper changed the end result to the Texas-Royals matchup that the Coliseum erupted into cheers.
Just a few hours later, the Athletics surged past the Twins with a flurry of home runs (3) and extra base hits (3) to post an 11-7 victory and complete the four-game sweep.
“We weren’t going to take it easy, even with the Rangers pretty far behind,” Josh Reddick told MLB.com after the game. “We know how far back we were last year and how easy it can be taken away.”
For now, the Athletics fan base can celebrate a lofty accomplishment, especially for a team that ranks near the bottom in payroll every season. But there’s still room for improvement. As it stands right now, Oakland (93-63) will host Detroit (91-65) in the ALDS, a team that ousted them in the Fall Classic last season. But they still have a chance to overtake the AL-leading Boston Red Sox (95-62) with six games remaining in the season to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Not all is rainbows and sunshine.
The scene looked a bit more discouraging out at Candlestick Park on Sunday, where Jim Harbaugh met his former pupil Andrew Luck for the first time in the professional ranks.
But it was Luck who played the spoiler in Indianapolis’ 27-7 rout against San Francisco. The former Stanford product threw for 164 yards and ran an additional 24 (including a 6-yard touchdown run) to outpace Colin Kaepernick and the reeling 49ers.
Oracle Team USA isn’t ready to give up just yet.
Battling shifting and erratic winds, the team owned by Larry Ellison swept Sunday’s races against Emirates Team New Zealand on the San Francisco Bay to close their deficit to 8-5 in the best-of-17 series.
Team USA has won four straight meetings against New Zealand with their backs against the wall. But Oracle still needs to post four more in order to capture the America’s Cup title. The next race is at 1:15 p.m. today.
MNF: Oakland’s tall task
The Oakland Raiders will visit the Denver Broncos in a division rival matchup on Monday Night Football. But the Black and White have more to fear than just the bright lights of a nationally televised game.
The Broncos’ Peyton Manning has been supremely special in the first two weeks of the season, posting a league-best 131.0 passer rating and setting an NFL record-tying mark with seven passing touchdowns in their 49-27 Week 1 victory over Baltimore.
Kickoff is set for 5:40 on ESPN.
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