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LAA@OAK: Gray strikes out five over six strong frames

The A's are ruthlessly taking care of their own business.

Faced with a joint proposition on Saturday -- Oakland could have clinched the American League West with a victory and a loss by Texas, its closest rival -- the A's did what they do best. Oakland hammered out a one-sided win against Minnesota, but with Texas also emerging victorious against the Royals, the A's will again look to clinch on Sunday.

Oakland manager Bob Melvin, when asked about how the team would celebrate a division championship, shared some key perspective with the media on Saturday.

"First we have to win and then potentially talk about those type of things," he said. "Until we win it's moot."

Sure, perhaps that's true. But with the A's magic number at one, the time is drawing near. The A's have won nine of their last 11 and 12 of their last 15 games to improve to a season-high 29 games over .500, and they'll match rookie right-hander Sonny Gray against Minnesota's Cole De Vries in Sunday's series finale.

Gray is 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA and a .219 opponents' batting average over his last four starts, and he has been especially good at home. Gray, the 18th overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, has gone 2-1 with a 1.26 ERA in his first five starts at home, and he has just six walks in that span.

De Vries will be making his first big league start of the season, and he has 16 Major League starts on his resume from prior campaigns. De Vries gave up two earned runs in Oakland during the 2012 season, and he'll have to work with a young Minnesota catcher in the series finale.

The Twins are trying to break in three catchers -- Josmil Pinto, Chris Hermann and Eric Fryer -- who all have less than a full year of Major League service time. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Saturday that he'd like to see those catchers get some more time to work on game-calling in the Majors.

"We have that issue. Some of our kids like to, 'One here, one here, one here,' " Gardenhire said of calling the fastball. "Sometimes they forget about using all those pitches. It's understanding how to set up a hitter, seeing a hitter on the fastball and trying to get him off the fastball."

Twins: Arcia has room to improve
The Twins have had a tough season, but they've had the opportunity to evaluate some of their best prospects. Oswaldo Arcia, a 22-year-old Venezuelan-born outfielder, batted .313 with a .426 on-base percentage in 38 games for Triple-A Rochester before getting his first big league promotion.

Arcia, a .314 hitter in six Minor League seasons, has had a rough transition to the Majors and is batting just .249. But Arcia has hit 13 home runs in his debut season for the Twins, and seven of them have come in 35 games since the All-Star break.

Athletics: Donaldson piling up the hits
Josh Donaldson is one of the biggest reasons for Oakland's playoff push. Donaldson has had 55 multihit games this season, tied for the second-highest total in franchise history (Mark Kotsay and Miguel Tejada hold the top spot with 57). Donaldson has reached base safely via hit or walk in 26 straight games, the longest streak by an Athletic in five years.

Worth noting
• Outfielder Coco Crisp is one stolen base away from being the 10th player in A's history to have 20 home runs and 20 steals in a season. Crisp already has a career-best 21 homers. Comments