ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Now that the Oakland A's have locked up the American League West title and a spot in the playoffs, it's time for them to coast a bit, take it easy for the next week, right?
Not so much. If there's one thing Monday's 10-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels displayed in graphic color, it was that the A's aren't going to half-step to the finish line.
By winning Monday and the Detroit Tigers losing, the A's magic number for clinching home-field advantage for the American League Division Series shrunk to two, meaning any combination of A's wins and Tigers' losses totaling two sews up home-field advantage for Oakland for the first round of the playoffs.
Manager Bob Melvin could have rested most of his regulars after Sunday's clinching celebration and subsequent flight to Southern California, but the lineup he put forward was representative of lineups he's used for six months now.
It's true that he pushed all his starting pitchers back a day by starting Tommy Milone and Yoenis Cespedes got a day off, but for the most part, Melvin played it straight up.
There is every indication that he'll continue to do that for most of the rest of the final week of the season.
For one thing, the A's have a chance to catch Boston for the best record in the American League. The A's are 94-63 and the Red Sox 95-62. And if that happens the A's would draw (as things currently stand) Cleveland or Tampa Bay rather than Detroit.
That would also mean the A's would have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, which would be close to priceless given that the club was 52-20 when playing at the Coliseum.
"We still have games to play," Melvin said. "We still have games to win. We'd like to secure home field advantage."
And they have questions to answer.
--Will Cespedes's sore shoulder allow him to play in the field? He threw on the side Monday, didn't play in the game but could play Tuesday or Wednesday.
--Will Nate Freiman recover from the abdominal pain that has sidelined him for a week and make the postseason roster or will the A's carry three catchers and use Derek Norris as their right-handed hitting first baseman? Norris worked out there Monday but hasn't played the position this season.
--Will the A's go with four starting pitchers or three when the playoffs roll around? Melvin isn't talking, but it seems likely that Jarrod Parker, Bartolo Colon and A.J. Griffin will all start, but it's less clear if the club will go with a fourth starter. And if they do, will they take the kid with all the electricity in his right arm, Sonny Gray (4-3, 2.90), or Dan Straily who is only 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA in his past five starts?
And there are other stories that have to play themselves out.
One of those is Milone, who gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings Monday. Does it help his postseason roster status that three of the five runs he allowed were unearned? He's won both of his starts this month and has a 2.70 September ERA.
Another is the ongoing A's power saga. Homers by Jed Lowrie, a three-run blast in the third, and Brandon Moss, a two-run bomb in the fifth, accounted for half of the A's runs Monday.
It was the sixth consecutive game in which the A's have hit two or more homers, matching the club record. That's also 70 homers in the past 44 games and 84 homers since the All-Star break, both of which are the best totals in the major leagues.
--Josh Donaldson had two singles, giving him 56 multiple-hit games, one shy of the A's club record co-held by Miguel Tejada (2002) and Mark Kotsay (2004).
--Moss, who hit his team-best 28th homer, made just his second start of the month at first base. With Josh Reddick and Cespedes both likely to play in the outfield, the A's will need Moss either at first base or at D.H. in the postseason, depending on how much time another left-handed first baseman, Daric Barton, gets.
--Melvin said the hope was that his cleanup hitter Cespedes would get "multiple games" in left field the final week of the season, because the A's are fielding their best lineup when Cespedes is in the field.
--Every A's starter had at least one hit, the third time in the past 13 games that's happened.
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