Colon sharp as A's clinch home field for ALDS
Veteran righty earns 18th win; Moss, Norris power offense
By Jane Lee / 9/28/2013 3:05 AM ET
SEATTLE -- The A's are geared to start the postseason at home -- and with Bartolo Colon. They didn't have either advantage last year.
"That's huge," Josh Reddick said. "Any team going into the postseason is going to be good, but to start at home, that's big, because we get our No. 1 and 2 at home and didn't have the benefit of that last year. Our ballpark, anything can happen."
Colon has more than likely earned the nod for that first game.
The veteran's last start of the regular season on Friday night in Seattle was no more impressive than any of the others leading up to it. That's because the majority have been equally remarkable.
With another six solid innings tucked away in an 8-2 victory over ace Felix Hernandez and the Mariners, Colon finishes his 16th Major League season with a 2.65 ERA. That ranks second in the American League only to Detroit's Anibal Sanchez (2.64), who pitches Saturday in Miami.
Colon, whose 18 wins as a 40-year-old tie the A's record set by Jack Quinn in 1928, tossed 190 1/3 innings this year, his most since compiling 222 2/3 in 2005 with the Angels.
"Eighteen wins is pretty phenomenal for anyone," said manager Bob Melvin, "let alone a 40-year-old."
Given these contributions to an A's club that didn't have his services at this time last year, when Colon was serving a 50-game drug suspension, it was fitting that it was he who clinched his team home-field advantage for the AL Division Series with his latest win.
Combined with a Tigers loss in Miami, the A's now know they will be playing at home on Oct. 4, though their opponent has yet to be determined.
Detroit seems to be the logical fit at this point, but Oakland is mathematically still in the hunt for the top seed, which would not only secure the A's home-field advantage throughout October but a favorable matchup with the AL Wild Card Game winner.
Boston still holds a two-game lead over the A's, meaning the Red Sox would need to lose their final two games in Baltimore and the A's would have to beat the Mariners on Saturday and Sunday for this to happen.
Regardless, "we know we're going to be home for a week, and that's a good thing," Melvin said.
"That's key," he said. "That's something we were really looking, hoping to do. And with more people in there, it's going to be rocking. It's our place to another level with more people in there, so it's pretty exciting. Certainly a goosebump day."
"That's very important, no matter who we play," Brandon Moss said. "I have to feel like coming into our place in the playoffs, with the way it was last year, and there's now going to be even more people there, that's a tough place to play for anyone, and it plays into our advantage for sure, because we play pretty well at home. That's huge. That's what we were playing for. Obviously we won the division a few days ago, but everyone's been giving it everything they had because this is what we've been trying to get."
The A's, who have secured their first 95-win season since finishing 2003 with a 96-66 record, are feeling every bit confident these days, particularly after beating Hernandez for the first time this year.
Oakland hadn't even scored a run off the right-hander this season before the first inning on Friday, when Moss belted a three-run homer to right field, his 29th in just 439 at-bats. Hernandez didn't allow a run in his final five innings, and the A's celebrated his departure in the seventh by way of another long ball.
Derek Norris hit one off lefty Oliver Perez, a two-run shot that made Norris just the fifth player in A's history with three or more pinch-hit home runs and the first since Jeff Burroughs in 1982 (four).
Josh Donaldson added an RBI groundout in the inning, providing plenty of support for Colon, who allowed two home runs -- to Franklin Gutierrez and Kendrys Morales -- for the first time since May 9. He gave up just one other hit on the night, striking out eight and walking only one.
"When you go out there and play behind a guy like that," Moss said, "I feel like we're going to win every single time. There's no question marks."