OAKLAND -- Exactly four weeks after taking a line drive to the head that fractured his skull and led to emergency surgery, Brandon McCarthy was in the A's clubhouse handing out beers to teammates and spraying champagne Wednesday to celebrate winning the American League West title.
And with the A's bound for the postseason, McCarthy said he could potentially be ready to pitch if the A's make a deep enough October run.
"At this point, nothing is impossible," McCarthy said, adding that it may take the A's reaching the World Series in order for him to return. "I'm not going to be putting myself in any danger, and we'll see how it goes. We might as well win it at this point."
"It wouldn't surprise me if he was able to do that, and that's about as far as I'll go with that," a smiling manager Bob Melvin said after the A's beat the Rangers, 12-5, to take their first division lead on the last day of the regular season.
McCarthy began joining his teammates in the A's dugout starting last Friday for the Mariners series, watching alongside them as Oakland won its final six games of the season.
"It was very inspirational for us," Melvin said of having McCarthy in the dugout for the last week. "Just having his jersey in the dugout for a while, that was an inspiration itself. You could see everybody go to it every game and touch his jersey, and then to actually have him in the dugout was just terrific. He's just another piece that brought us here, not just his contributions as a pitcher, but afterwards, just inspirationally."
The raucous A's celebration Wednesday followed Monday's celebration for clinching a postseason berth, and McCarthy said it would have been hard to imagine joining his teammates in the fun a few weeks ago when he was recovering from surgery to alleviate pressure from his skull after a CT scan showed an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture.
"It's better than watching it at home, I'll tell you that," McCarthy said as teammates doused him with champagne and beer. "This is what you want to be a part of, and to do it twice in a week is pretty spectacular, and we're pretty fortunate. I got to do this once in my rookie year, and since then I haven't even sniffed it. I realized then how lucky I was to have one opportunity at it, and then the older you get, you realize how fortunate you are and really try to soak it in."
Inside the numbers of the A's remarkable run
OAKLAND -- A closer look at the A's amazing dethroning of the Rangers as American League West champions, by the numbers:
The Rangers were on top of the American League West for 178 days this season, but the A's dethroned them just in time. The 178 days the Rangers spent in first place are the most by any team that did not end up winning the division since divisional play began in 1969.
The A's held sole possession of first place in the AL West for just one day -- the one that counted the most -- after defeating the Rangers, 12-5, on Wednesday. "If there ever was a good day to do that, it's today," manager Bob Melvin said of spending one day in first place.
Oakland became the first team in Major League history to win a division or pennant after having trailed by five or more games with fewer than 10 games remaining, and just the third team in history to clinch a division or pennant after having spent just one day in sole possession of first place, joining the 2006 Twins and 1951 Giants.
The A's are the fifth team in history to erase a deficit of 13 games on the way to a division title, having trailed the Rangers by 13 games as of June 30 before going a Major League-best 57-26 (.687) since, while Texas went 43-40 (.518). Oakland joins the 1914 Braves, 1978 Yankees, 1951 Giants and 1995 Mariners in having mounted such comebacks.
Trailing the Rangers by five games as of Sept. 24, the A's ended the regular season by going 6-0 in their final homestand, sweeping both the Mariners and the Rangers.
The 94 wins this season is the 10th most in team history.
This is the A's 15th AL West title.
The A's spent a total of four days of the season tied for first place this year. The only other division or pennant winners to have spent five days or fewer with a share of first place are the 1951 Giants (three days), 2006 Twins (four) and 2007 Phillies (five).
The last time the A's made it to the postseason. Oakland swept Minnesota, 3-0 in the AL Division Series, but fell to Detroit, 4-0, in the AL Championship Series.
Anderson on track to return for playoffs
OAKLAND -- Prior to Game No. 162 on Wednesday, A's general manager Billy Beane said rehabbing lefty Brett Anderson is "more likely than unlikely" to be available for playoff action.
"That's probably fair," manager Bob Melvin added. "When [he'll pitch,] we're not sure."
The 24-year-old Anderson, recovering from a right oblique strain he suffered two weeks ago, threw a bullpen session Monday and came out of it feeling a bit tender on Tuesday, which wasn't unexpected.
Should the A's play in the American League Wild Card game on Friday, they will have to decide whether it will be Anderson or rookie Tommy Milone on the mound.
"We're not going to rush him into anything, so he's going to have to be very confident in what he's doing," Melvin said.
"You really can't simulate in a bullpen what you do out there in a game. If anybody throws as significant bullpens and goes at it pretty hard, it's Brett. You can't impede the progress he's made right now by trying to rush him too quickly."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. Jay Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.