(OAKLAND) -- The 2013 Oakland Athletics are closing in on a second consecutive American League West division title, as they prepare to host the Los Angeles Angels today having won nine of their last 11 games to take charge of the playoff race.
After completing a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers on the road Sunday with a 5-1 victory, the A's returned home Monday and lost to the Angels, 12-1. The Rangers lost that night, too, though, so Oakland reduced its magic number for clinching the division any way.
And last night, the A's won, 2-1, in the ninth inning, while Texas also won. But the magic number is down to six for Oakland now, meaning any combination of six A's wins and Rangers' losses means the division title will stay in place for another year.
So with 11 games remaining, Oakland holds a 6.5-game edge on Texas for the AL West slot. It was a similar position last season for both teams, with the roles reversed, and we all know how that ended up playing out.
Thus, the A's want to be very focused on winning this week, as they play their final five home games of the regular season (today and four straight against the Minnesota Twins, starting tomorrow).
Oakland closes the season with six straight on the road -- three in Los Angeles against these same Angels and then the final three in Seattle -- but the A's would prefer to have the division locked up before departing on that trip.
With the sweep of Texas, Oakland won the season series, 10-9, against the Rangers, which means if the two teams finish tied for the division lead after 162 games and both are playoff qualifiers -- still possible as Texas is tied currently for the final postseason berth in the AL -- the A's would automatically win the West division without a one-game playoff.
With four games left to play against the Angels, Oakland has already clinched the season series with Los Angeles, too. The A's have won ten of the teams' 15 matchups this season, and they'll look to make it 11 today with A.J. Griffin (14-9, 3.81 ERA) on the mound against Jason Vargas (8-7, 4.20).
Game time is 12:35 p.m., and today's game is the last one at the O.co Coliseum before a MLB-wide implementation of metal detectors goes into effect for Thursday night's games across the country.