Monday September 19, 1988
A paid total 42,186 Oakland A’s fans and a dejected Minnesota Twins’ dugout looked on as the A’s finished the inevitable. They had led the AL West most of the season and now, two weeks before the regular season ends, the A’s celebrated on the field in front of last year’s champions. Some samples from the local dailies:
The torch was passed from the Twins to the Oakland Athletics on a cool Monday night by the bay. More accurately, it was wrested away – yanked from the hands of a good team by a great team.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The Athletics have been preening atop the division in full view of the American League for 150 games. This team is loaded, at least for one season, playing at a dizzying 41 games above .500.
No question, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The standings have been right there in hard black and white each morning. Even as Twins fans, remembering the unlikely events of 1987, waited for some miraculous intervention that would turn it all right-side up, the Athletics were flexing those muscles one more time.
The Athletics beat the Twins 5-3 at Oakland Coliseum to clinch the American League West Division title. Fans at the Metrodome can stop leaning toward one another and asking “What’d Oakland do?” every five minutes. Oakland has done enough.
-Tom Powers, Pioneer Press
From the other side of the river:
Even when the clinching was close, the entire matter seemed moot, decided weeks ago and accepted by everyone in both clubhouses. That it happened on the road might have softened the blow for the Twins, but it still stung.
The Twins remembered the feel, the atmosphere of that champagne-soaked clubhouse in Texas 12 months ago and they knew that it all belonged to Oakland Monday night. The Athletics marched off with a 5-3 victory and carried the American League West title with them inside the Coliseum, which started shaking in batting practice.
That the A’s should clinch against the Twins seemed fitting. Oakland general manager Sandy Alderson set out nine months ago to deal the A’s into the playoffs after the Twins stole the division with 85 victories. It worked. All of it.
Unlike Twins manager Tom Kelly, who stayed behind and watched the Twins roll around the Arlington Stadium mound last September, A’s manager Tony La Russa followed the last player off the bench and joined the party in progress.
The Twins scored first, but Fred Toliver allowed five runs over the course of the first three innings and they never looked back. With his team behind 3-2, Dave Parker hit a two-run home run off of Toliver in the third inning. A Mike Gallego single later in the inning added an insurance run, and the A’s held on for the 5-3 win.
Dave Stewart was effective for the A’s, allowing only the three runs in 6 1/3 innings pitched. Dennis Eckersley faced six Twins and retired all of them to earn his 42nd save of the year.
The Twins were eliminated from the race despite the fact that they are three games ahead of their pace from a year ago.
Player of the Game
Team Name G W L T PCT GB RS RA Oakland Athletics 151 96 55 0 .636 - 741 582 Minnesota Twins 150 83 67 0 .553 12.5 701 624 Kansas City Royals 150 79 71 0 .527 16.5 658 597 California Angels 151 75 76 0 .497 21.0 679 702 Texas Rangers 149 65 84 0 .436 30.0 593 689 Chicago White Sox 149 64 85 0 .430 31.0 589 720 Seattle Mariners 150 62 88 0 .413 33.5 609 691