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<  The Idiot Zone  ~  Champagne flowed in the clubhouse as players

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SEATTLE (AP) — bopped around and screamed in a wild celebration after the Oakland Athletics clinched their first playoff berth in four years.“It’s a lot of fun Kris Bryant Jersey ,” a soaked Khris Davis said. “We’re just trying to enjoy the moment. It’s a blast. We’ve been waiting for this day for a while. I feel so much excitement. It’s just a dream come true.”The surprising Athletics were assured no worse than an American League wild card Monday night when Tampa Bay lost to the New York Yankees. A few hours later, Oakland finished off a 7-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners behind Davis’ major league-leading 46th home run.Jonathan Lucroy, Jed Lowrie and Matt Chapman also went deep for the A’s.And then, it was time to party.Oakland was one out into the game when Tampa Bay was eliminated with a 4-1 loss to the Yankees. The A’s went on to win after Chapman broke a 3-all tie with a two-run drive in the seventh off Shawn Armstrong (0-1).Coming off three straight last-place finishes in the AL West, the A’s (95-62) are 4½ games behind AL West-leading Houston. They trail the Yankees by 1½ games for home-field advantage should they meet in a wild-card matchup.“No matter who we play or where it is, we’ll be ready,” Chapman said during the celebration. “I can’t really put it into words, but this team is special.”Few predicted the A’s could make the playoffs this season, a young team with few proven stars after going 75-87 a year ago. Oakland won only 68 games in 2015 and 69 in 2016. The A’s have the third-lowest payroll among the 30 major league clubs at $78 million for their 40-man roster, ahead of only the White Sox and Rays.“This happened for us quicker than most people thought it would,” manager Bob Melvin said. “This is the best group I’ve had in all my years of managing. It’s everybody playing for the guy next to him. We really wanted to win this game. Even though we knew we had clinched, we wanted to celebrate right after a win.”Oakland was 34-36 and 11 games behind Seattle in the wild-card race on June 15. The A’s have gone 61-26 since.“We’ve had some younger players mature and become, for me, stars,” Melvin said before the game. “We’ve gone from last year being one of the worst defenses in the league to now one of the best. Our bullpen has been a strength for us all year. We don’t just rely on one facet. We seem to be able to win in different ways.”One big contributor is Davis, the team’s designated hitter http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-addison-russell-jersey , with 120 RBIs. Davis has hit at least 40 homers and driven in more than 100 runs in each of this three seasons with the Athletics.Blake Treinen, who pitched a perfect ninth inning, is 9-2 and one of the top closers in baseball this season with 37 saves and a 0.80 ERA, the lowest of all major league relievers with at least 75 innings pitched. Opponents have a .091 batting average against him with runners in scoring position.“It’s amazing,” Melvin said. “Not only is he doing it closing games, he’s doing it in games when we’re tied and he’s pitching two innings at times. The numbers are absolutely fantastic. I don’t know that I’ve seen numbers like that from any closer in quite some time. He’s meant a lot to this team.”The A’s are the only team in the majors with an undefeated record this season when leading after seven innings (68-0). They have the best record in one-run games at 31-13.“Oakland is a different team than early in spring, quite a bit different,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “Certainly they had a number of players step up. That happens throughout baseball as the season goes. Guys get better, and they build confidence.”Oakland made key moves to bolster the pitching staff via trades over the summer by adding veteran relievers Jeurys Familia and Fernando Rodney and starter Mike Fiers, who is 5-1 with a 2.90 ERA since joining the Athletics. Fiers could be the starter in the wild-card game.“I would love to pitch that game, but whatever this team needs me to do I’m happy to do it,” Fiers said. “Anything to get us to the next round. It’s been fun to help a winning team like this. They had a plan for me to come in and help this team win and that’s what I’ve been doing.”The A’s overcame losing key starters from their rotation down the stretch. That included left-hander Sean Manaea, who pitched a no-hitter on April 21 against Boston and is done for the year recovering from arthroscopic shoulder surgery that took place this past week.The Athletics will be making their fourth playoff appearance in the last seven seasons, all under Melvin, and their 27th overall. The A’s lost at Kansas City 9-8 in 12 innings in the 2014 wild-card game, the last time Oakland reached the postseason.The last time the A’s reached the World Series was 1990 http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-sammy-sosa-jersey , losing in four games to Cincinnati. Oakland won the 1989 World Series after the Bay Area earthquake, sweeping San Francisco.The Mariners (85-71) have gone 40-46 since June 15, when they were 11 games ahead of the A’s.“Of course it hurts, especially because it was looking so good in the first half,” pitcher James Paxton said. “They surged, and we stumbled. It was a heartbreaking way to go for us. None of us are happy about those guys celebrating on our field right now. Hopefully we can get some payback next year.”Robinson Cano and Dee Gordon homered for the Mariners.TRAINER’S ROOMAthletics: Starting pitcher Daniel Mengden was on the ground writhing in pain after he took a liner off his right foot that was hit by Denard Span. Mengden was on the ground for about five minutes, but got up and surprisingly stayed in the game. LHP Ryan Buchter (5-0) got two outs, and three more relievers completed a six-hitter.Mariners: Paxton, making his first start since Sept. 7 after a bout with pneumonia, allowed two runs — both on homers— and three hits. He left after four innings and 71 pitches because he was on a pitch count.UP NEXTAthletics: LHP Brett Anderson (4-5, 3.96 ERA) will make his third start Tuesday since coming off the 10-day disabled list on Sept. 13. He is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA since returning from a strained left forearm.Mariners: RHP Mike Leake (10-10, 4.10 ERA) will make his 31st start Tuesday. Leake gave up five runs over 6 1/3 innings last time out at Houston, but allowed only one run over 13 innings in his two previous starts. CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs realize if they are going to maintain their cushion in the National League Central that winning on a consistent basis will go a long way.And as the Cubs prepare to welcome the New York Mets to Wrigley Field for a three-game series starting Monday, they may have found the kind of rhythm they have been looking for all season — and precisely at the right time.The Cubs are riding a five-game winning streak after sweeping the Cincinnati Reds with a 9-0 victory on Sunday. Daniel Murphy continues to pace the offense from the leadoff spot and David Bote added another home run to keep the Cubs rolling.Article continues below ...The Cubs finished the four-game series by scoring 29 runs. They have scored at least seven runs in four of their past five games.But if the Cubs hope to continue to keep their streak intact, Monday starter and ace Jon Lester will have to deal with a Mets team that has found its stride as well.The Mets couldn’t finish off a sweep of the Washington Nationals in a 15-0 loss on Sunday, but New York has been finding success of late just the same.The Mets will enter the series having won four of their past six games and hope to bounce back from Sunday’s lopsided loss.Lester (14-5 Joe Maddon Jersey , 3.64 ERA) takes the mound on a bit of a roll after winning his last two starts. He hit a speed bump three starts ago when he was shelled for nine runs (eight earned) in 3 2/3 innings against the Nationals on Aug. 11, but since then has given up just one earned run in 11 2/3 innings in his past two outings and has found the groove he had settled into earlier this season.Now, Lester will look to continue moving in the right direction against the Mets, against whom he is 6-1 with a 3.26 ERA in eight career starts.Lester departed his last start against the Detroit Tigers earlier than he would have liked after he was pulled by manager Joe Maddon after 5 2/3 innings.“As a competitor, I don’t have to like his decision,” Lester told reporters, according to the Cubs’ official website. “It doesn’t mean I don’t respect our manager and what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to win a baseball game and he feels if that’s the time to make the move, that’s the time to make the move.”Still, Lester likes the way he’s pitching of late.“The biggest thing is getting my fastball to the angle that it should be so you’re seeing the missed hits and foul balls and swings and misses on it,” Lester said. “I’ll keep working on that.”Lester will face Noah Syndergaard (9-3, 3.38), who has won three of his past four outings. Syndergaard surrendered two runs while scattering five hits and striking out six in six innings of his last start against the San Francisco Giants. He is 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs.Syndergaard has seemingly found his rhythm after missing nearly two months with a finger injury.“Obviously, he’s had a bit of a strange year in terms of injuries and sicknesses,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters earlier this month, according to mlb.com. “He’s going to be an elite pitcher if he can get his routine underway.”


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