Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/20/13
Coco Crisp sent the ball high into the Oakland night and suddenly all the talk about the worrisome A's bullpen was put on hold. A few hours after receiving the Catfish Hunter Award as the team's most inspirational player Crisp hit a tie-breaking home run in the eighth inning to lift the A's to an 8-6 victory over the Twins before 11461 at the Coliseum. The magic number for the A's to clinch the American League West dropped to four and the only question seems to be whether the A's will clinch this weekend in Oakland or push back their celebration to next week on the road. Their magic number for clinching at minimum a wild-card spot is three but that's hardly front and center for a team banking on back-to-back division titles. The A's are far enough ahead of second-place Texas - 6 1/2 games with nine to play - that their fans need to keep the month of October open. "I know we're close but we've got to keep the same philosophy" said Crisp who has a career-high 21 homers. "You can't look too far ahead. I know it's very difficult especially at this stage. Hopefully you'll get there and win this division. In order to do that we have to win tomorrow. That's our main focus the next game." Alberto Callaspo's solo homer and Jed Lowrie's three-run shot in the sixth inning helped the A's take a 6-3 lead but the bullpen coughed it up. Starter Dan Straily lasted 5 2/3 innings and Dan Otero Brett Anderson Ryan Cook and Jesse Chavez didn't do a great job shutting the door. Only Sean Doolittle was dominant among the relievers entering with two outs in the eighth inning and retiring all four of his batters to earn the win. The bullpen has a 5.29 ERA in the past 10 games. "That was huge" Doolittle said of Crisp making the bullpen woes a secondary story. "He's been such an integral part of the team all season long. We've been riding him all year and tonight was a case where he put us on his back and got a win."
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