A's join Mariners in AL playoffs, clinch wild card
September 23, 2001
JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY (TICKER) -- The hottest team in baseball has clinched an American League playoff berth -- and it isn't the Seattle Mariners.
Hours after clinching the wild card, the Oakland Athletics completed their weekend statement Sunday by polishing off a three-game sweep of the Mariners.
Oakland, which is a major league-best 66-31 since June 2, became just the seventh team ever to fall 10 games under .500 and bounce back to make the postseason. The last team to accomplish the feat was the 1989 Toronto Blue Jays.
The A's are a remarkable 57-18 in their last 75 games and on Sunday got another dominant effort from 20-game winner Mark Mulder in a 7-4 triumph over Seattle. Oakland was a preseason favorite and added Jermaine Dye -- who hit a key three-run homer Sunday -- at midseason.
"It feels great," said center fielder Johnny Damon, who made the postseason for the first time. "I mean, it is my first time and it's exactly why I wanted to get traded. (The Royals) sent me to a very good team, a team that can make things happen."
"Now I have a chance to go to the postseason," added Dye, a teammate of Damon's in Kansas City last season. "I am a laid back guy, I just go out there, have fun and play the game hard."
With Seattle already having clinched the AL West title and home-field advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the teams have switched places from 2000, when Oakland won the division and Seattle was the wild card.
Following Sunday's final out, Oakland took a page from the Mariners' book and, after a brief celebration, took a moment to reflect on the terrorist attacks that stunned the nation nearly two weeks ago.
"After we got the final out, we all went out there and cheered," second baseman Frank Menechino said. "Then we said a prayer for all the families and paid our respects to the people going through some tough times right now."
The New York Yankees, who defeated Oakland in the Division Series before vanquishing Seattle in the Championship Series last year, has a magic number of two for clinching their fourth straight Eastern Division title.
The Cleveland Indians' magic number for wrapping up another Central Division title is six.
All four playoff spots in the National League remain up for grabs