"Sky high," Parker said of his team's confidence. "This is a team that knows it can do a lot of things. It's no surprise to me. It might be a surprise to everybody else."
The right-hander is the latest in a rotation of rookies to come through for an Oakland staff that in trades last winter lost Gio Gonzalez to Washington, Trevor Cahill to Arizona and All-Star closer Andrew Bailey to the Boston Red Sox. Dependable catcher Kurt Suzuki was shipped to the Nationals during the season, and starter Bartolo Colon was suspended in August for testing positive for testosterone.
Melvin emerged as a Manager of the Year candidate with the way he mixed and matched and kept running out a winning club despite injuries to so many players and new faces arriving in the clubhouse seemingly every day for the small-budget A's.
Oakland moved a season-high 24 games over .500 for its best mark since ending that '06 season at 93-69.
"They play with no conscious. They're not afraid of nobody right now," said Rangers manager Ron Washington, Oakland's longtime third-base coach before leaving to manage Texas. "I'm never surprised what happens over in that clubhouse with the Oakland A's. They've always got pitching, and when you've got pitching, you never know what can happen."
This one sure had the feel of a fall October playoff game despite the unseasonably warm 82-degree temperature at first pitch.
The Rangers now must wait at least one more day as they try to clinch their third straight division title. Texas won the second game of Sunday's doubleheader at home against the Angels to secure a third straight playoff appearance for the first time in franchise history and sixth overall.
"I'm not sending any message. My team knows what needs to be done," Washington said. "The message was sent yesterday."
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