The A's got their wish on Sunday, clinching a second straight American League West title in front of their home crowd in Oakland, but their sights are ultimately set on October.
For now, the A's are just looking to finish the excellent run that got them here in the first place.
"It doesn't surprise us. Hopefully, we surprise some people," A's outfielder Coco Crisp said. "We still have some time left in this season that we have to finish. We just have to keep going out there playing. Hopefully, we can make our situation [better] going into the postseason, but I'm happy that we're at least going there. Anything can happen in the postseason. Obviously, where we finished is not the ultimate goal, I don't believe, for any team. Hopefully, we can finish up on top."
Having gone 18-5 since Aug. 29, when Texas held a three-game division lead, Oakland will hit the road to take on the Angels in Anaheim on Monday, the opener of a three-game series at Angel Stadium. The A's will send left-hander Tommy Milone to the mound, while the Angels will counter with righty Garrett Richards.
Right-hander A.J. Griffin was scheduled to start for Oakland, but Milone was named his replacement Monday afternoon, presumably to allow the A's to set up their rotation for the playoffs.
While the A's are trying to make a run at the best record in the AL, the Angels (76-79) are aiming to get to .500, a meaningful accomplishment in a disappointing year.
"These guys have gone through a long season, and they've played hard. We're just not going to have anything to show for it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I know for them, a goal of .500 is something they can at least look in the mirror and say, 'We had a bad year, but we kept playing hard and played better at the end.' For me personally, you always want these guys to feel positive and moving forward. But finishing .500, we can't let it mask any of the things that we need to improve on."
Richards doesn't appear to be one of those areas in need of improvement, at least not recently. The right-hander has posted a 2.90 ERA in 11 starts since July 27, making the most of his opportunity to replace Joe Blanton in the rotation. Richards allowed just one run in seven innings on Tuesday in Oakland.
Milone, a regular member of the rotation through much of August, has made one start since them. He made that start at Texas on Sept. 15, and held the Rangers to one run on six hits in five innings in a 5-1 victory.
A's: Barton surging since return
First baseman Daric Barton went 3-for-3 with a double and a home run in Sunday's 11-7 win against the Twins, continuing to make an impact in the A's lineup since coming back to the Majors in August. Could Barton, hitting .319 and playing standout defense since his return, find his way on to Oakland's postseason roster?
"A lot like last year, when we brought players to the big leagues, we brought them when they were playing well, and he was playing really well at the time. He has continued that here," Melvin said. "The timing of it was really good, not only for us, but for him, confidence-wise, and he continues to perform for us."
• Nate Freiman hasn't swung a bat since suffering an abdominal strain last week, and Melvin doesn't see him playing during this series against the Angels.
Angels: Trout on historic pace once again
Outfielder Mike Trout is just the seventh player in Major League history with at least 100 runs in his age-20 and age-21 seasons, the first to do so since Alex Rodriguez (1996-97). Trout has also became the first player in MLB history with 50-plus homers and 70-plus stolen bases before turning 22, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He turned 22 on Aug. 7.
The 2012 AL MVP runner-up is also in exclusive company as one of four players all-time with 50 or more homers, 200 or more runs and a .320 batting average over his first two full Major League seasons. The other three? Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Albert Pujols.
• The Angels outrighted right-hander David Carpenter to Double-A Arkansas and fellow righty Daniel Stange to Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday.
• The A's lead the season series, 10-6, and the Angels took two of three games last week in Oakland.
• The Angels have dropped 11 of their past 16 games to the A's at Angel Stadium.