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09/25/10 4:44 PM ET

Day after clinch, Rangers face A's in finale

With the American League West settled, the Rangers and A's hit the field Sunday with less at stake than they might have otherwise.

But they won't do it with less focus on the job at hand, which for the Rangers is to stay on a roll into October.

"I'm a lifer in baseball and I'm a veteran in baseball and I've been around teams that have won divisions," Rangers manager Ron Washington said after his club clinched its first division title since 1999. "I do know that you got to keep things in perspective and your main focus is to get to the World Series. But we've accomplished what we needed to accomplish to get an opportunity to do that, and I don't think I'm going to let myself go until we get there."

For the A's, finishing strong as a team is high on the list, but so is finishing individual seasons on a strong note. And for AL Cy Young candidate Trevor Cahill, that means maintaining a high level of performance -- and continuing what has been a roll against the Rangers and possible Sunday starter Colby Lewis, who may get the day off. Michael Young and a few other position players may also sit in the finale.

They've met four times already this year, and Cahill and the A's have come out on top each time, the last one coming Aug. 8 in a 3-2 Oakland victory.

Cahill enters the game with the AL lead in opponents' batting average at .210, ranks third in ERA at 2.81 and is one of just four pitchers since 1986 to win 17 or more at age 22 or younger. The last to win more than 17 was Bret Saberhagen in 1985.

Rangers: Cantu can do
It was a long time coming, but Jorge Cantu's first RBI proved to be quite large in their postseason clincher. His second one was even bigger, as it proved to be the game-winner in a 4-3 victory -- his first homer with the Rangers. He actually earned his second straight start at first base with a couple of excellent defensive plays the night before. "It's not always offense," Washington said. "He has been doing a great job at first base since we got him." Cantu may be the Rangers' best option against left-handed pitching. "I'm just trying to get on a roll," Cantu said. "All I can do is get ready for the playoffs. I've made a lot of progress, and I'm just trying to carry it into the game."

Athletics: Mazzaro to the 'pen
Right-hander Vin Mazzaro will spend the remainder of the season in the bullpen. With Bobby Cramer thriving in the A's rotation, Mazzaro has made 22 appearances (18 starts) for the A's this season. He was sent down to Triple-A Sacramento on Sept. 6 after an eight-start stretch that saw him go 0-6 with a 5.60 ERA. "I'll approach it the best I can," Mazzaro said. "Just do my job, stay loose, be ready in the bullpen for whatever happens." ... The first 10,000 fans at the Oakland Coliseum for the A's home finale will receive a special Dallas Braden Perfect Game bobblehead, which features the left-hander pumping his fist and shouting, with May 9, 2010, on the base, marking the date of his perfecto vs. the Rays.

Worth noting
The season series is tied at nine apiece entering Sunday's finale. The A's won last year's series 11-8, but had lost the previous three season series to Texas.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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