Oakland, CA – The celebration began when the Texas Rangers dugout cleared as players ran onto the field. The Oakland A’s looked on in despair and were eliminated from the American League West contention after losing 4-3.
The victory on field was something the A’s wanted to prevent, they put up a good fight but not enough to stop Texas from winning their first division title. It’s been 11 years since the Rangers have clinched and they have Jorge Cantu to thank.
“It’s a special feeling,” Cantu said. “I have great teammates who support me, believe in me and what can be more perfect than this?” “I want to thank all of them, this is such a great feeling!”
Ending a streak of 83 plate appearances without a RBI, Cantu hit a solo homer off Michael Wuertz top of the eighth. The longest such streak to begin a career in Texas was now over and awarded in a big way.
Texas has led the AL West for majority of the season but were unsure on when they would reach their mile stone. Oakland kept pace trailing behind by seven games but could not acquire the winning steak needed to catch them.
“I’ve never managed a team that won anything,” manager Ron Washington said. “When we commit, we can make anything happen, these guys had to learn on the job unlike the veterans of years past.”
Through cigar smoke and champagne being sprayed all over the locker room, players and coaches remained humbled. With eight games left in the season they know there’s more baseball left to play.
“We have a lot of guys going through this for the first time,” first base coach Gary Pettis said. “This is what hard work comes from so, we have every reason to celebrate this win.” “These guys paid attention to detail and that’s why we’re enjoying this moment right now.”
The A’s locker room was somber and silent. The loss put Oakland back to .500 where they have spent most of the season, 21 times since the All-Star break and a record 32 times this year.
Now the attention shifts to their first winning record under manager Bob Geren. At 77-77 they want to end in second place which would be the highest finish since 2006.
Lefty Gio Gonzalez got off to a rocky start when he pitched six innings giving up a leadoff double to Ian Kinsler, who quickly scored on a single from Cantu. Gonzalez allowed seven hits, two runs (both earned), three walks, two strike outs and one home run.
“Hopefully we won’t be in this spot next year,” Gonzalez said. “Today was just one of those games where you try to keep your team in the game.” “I tired to do my best to go deep in the game and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t an easy battle for them.”
It wasn’t an easy win by far, both teams battled throughout the entire game. Kurt Suzuki hit an RBI single bottom of the first to give the A’s the lead but the Rangers responded immediately tying the game 1-1 with Michael Young’s home run in the third frame.
Rangers hero Cantu hit a single RBI to take the lead back in the sixth. Then it was Cliff Pennington who gave Oakland hope when he tied the game 3-3 with a two-run homer off Clay Rapada in the seventh. But Cantu’s home run in the eighth put Texas back on top for the win.
“At the time, down two, hit a home run, tying it up was nice,” Pennington said. “But in the end, it wasn’t enough.”
Written by: Malaika Bobino