Khris Davis hit his major league-leading 48th homer and the A's locked up their winningest season in 16 years with a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night. Jed Lowrie homered and drove in two runs for the A's (97-64), who hadn't won 97 games since going 103-59 in 2002. Oakland has made a stunning turnaround from losing at least 87 games in each of the past three seasons.
"It means we've had a nice year, and we've had quite a run since the middle of June," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "Ninety-seven is a nice number, especially after what we've been through the last three years."
A majors-best 42-22 since the All-Star break, the A's are already locked into a trip to New York on Wednesday night to face the Yankees. But while they prepare mentally for that one-game showdown on arguably baseball's biggest stage, the A's are taking care of the final bits of remaining business in September — including a chance to preview a possible pitching strategy for the Yankees.
Liam Hendriks pitched the first inning, allowing one single, before Trevor Cahill (7-4) threw four innings of one-hit ball for the A's. Hendriks also could start Wednesday, depending on how Melvin decides to approach the one-game playoff.
"It's different, but I feel like I didn't change too much about what I do," Cahill said. "We're going out and trying to win games. We're all thinking about New York, but we're all trying to play well and work on some things, too. We're excited the regular season is over, and more excited the postseason is going to start."
Davis connected in the first off Tyler Skaggs (8-10), driving a two-run shot for his ninth homer in September and his fifth in seven games. The 30-year-old slugger matched Jimmie Foxx's 48 homers in 1933 for the fourth-most in a single season in A's history.
Davis, who was born in nearby Lakewood and played a few miles away at Cal State Fullerton, also drove in his 122nd and 123rd runs. "It's just a number," Davis said. "I don't keep score. I play and try to get as many as I can. I basically just try to keep getting better."
After driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third, Lowrie got his 23rd homer on Angels reliever Jim Johnson's first pitch in the sixth, giving him 99 RBIs. Davis and Lowrie both seem likely to get one more day to add to their impressive regular seasons in Sunday's finale.
"That's the balance right now," Melvin said. "We want to get some guys some rest, but you also want to take care of some milestones, too." Blake Treinen got pinch-hitter Eric Young Jr. on a groundout with two runners on in the ninth to secure his 38th save.
FALLEN ANGELS Kaleb Cowart had an RBI single for the Angels, whose four-game winning streak ended with a landmark loss. The Halos (79-82) are guaranteed to finish with three consecutive losing records for the first time under manager Mike Scioscia, who hasn't announced whether his 19-year tenure is over.
Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton each went 0 for 4 for the Angels, who have made the playoffs just once since 2009 despite their annually bulky payroll. The club hadn't had three straight losing seasons since 1992-94.
"We got behind quickly and didn't get much going until later," Scioscia said. "We talked to the guys about making sure we finish hard this weekend. The quest for a championship doesn't start in the spring. It starts now."
SCIOSCIA'S FAREWELL? Although Scioscia has steadfastly refused to confirm reports that he won't be back next year, the Angels essentially treated this game as a potential farewell: They gave away a bobblehead doll in his likeness and aired several video tributes to the winningest manager in franchise history. Scioscia led the Angels to their only World Series championship in 2002, but the Halos haven't won a playoff game in nine years.
When asked after the game if he had noticed the tribute videos, Scioscia claimed he had not. TRAINER'S ROOM Athletics: Melvin is unlikely to play many of his regular position players for full games in the season finale, giving them ample rest before Wednesday.
Angels: RHP Felix Pena won't take his rotation turn for the series finale because he's already pitched much more than expected this season. The former reliever will rest after seizing a chance to pitch in the Halos' injury-ravaged rotation and posting a 4.18 ERA in 17 starts and 92 2/3 innings.
UP NEXT Athletics: Brett Anderson (4-5, 4.42 ERA) is likely to make his fourth start since returning from the disabled list. He has a 3.69 ERA since the All-Star break. Angels: Matt Shoemaker (2-2, 4.82 ERA) makes his seventh start of the season. He missed 134 games over five months with a right forearm strain, but has returned in solid form for September.
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