A’s rout Rangers to clinch AL West title

TOP OF THE PILE::While the Athletics secured the AL West title in California, the Yankees were also celebrating as they won the East crown with the league’s best record

AFP, OAKLAND, California

Fri, Oct 05, 2012 - Page 20

AMERICAN LEAGUE

The Oakland Athletics routed the Texas Rangers 12-5 to secure the American League West title for the first time in six years.

The New York Yankees were also celebrating on Wednesday night as they claimed their 13th American League East crown in 17 years with a 14-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

The win also gave New York (95-67) the best record in the American League and home-field advantage throughout the post-season.

The Yankees are due to face the winners of today’s wild-card contest between Baltimore and Texas in the Amercian League Division Series, which starts on Sunday.

Oakland stood 13 games behind the Rangers on June 30, but the Athletics have gone an MLB-best 57-26 since then. That included their three-game season-closing sweep of the Rangers to clinch the 15th American League West crown in team history.

“We knew this is a beast of a team we would have to beat, and to be able to beat them three games in a row and win the division on top of it, really it’s a magical type thing,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.

Coco Crisp drove in two runs and scored twice, while Brandon Moss added three RBIs and a run scored for the A’s.

A’s pitcher Evan Scribner earned the win after throwing three scoreless innings in relief of starter A.J. Griffin. Griffin allowed five runs on seven hits in just 2-2/3 innings. Four of the five runs he allowed were earned.

Slugger David Murphy knocked in two runs and Adrian Beltre drove in one run for the Rangers, who will continue their quest for a third-straight World Series appearance when they play in a wild-card game today.

Baltimore finished second in the American League East after losing 4-1 to Tampa on Wednesday.

“You never know,” outfielder Josh Hamilton said. “This could be a blessing in disguise.”

Hamilton dropped a fly ball in the outfield for a two-run error that put Oakland ahead 7-5 in a six-run fourth inning.

Pitcher Derek Holland suffered the loss after giving up three runs on three hits and two walks in 2-2/3 innings of relief. Holland won 12 games and lost seven this season.

“You can have all the experience you want, but when you run into a team that is hot, experience has nothing to do with it,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

The A’s are just the third team in MLB history to win a division while spending just one day in sole possession of first place, joining the Minnesota Twins (2006) and the Giants (1951).

Japan’s Hiroki Kuroda pitched seven solid innings, while Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson each homered twice as the Yankees crushed the Red Sox.

Cano led a 15-hit assault by going four-for-four with three runs scored and tying a career-high with six RBIs.

Granderson drove in four runs for New York, who have belted a league-best 245 home runs to eclipse their previous season record of 244.

Kuroda (16-11) did his part by limiting Boston to just two runs and scattering seven hits. He is an impressive 4-1 over his past six starts.

Red Sox starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-7) was roughed up for five runs and six hits in just 2-1/3 innings. Japan’s Matsuzaka, who finished with a dismal 8.13 earned run average, was likely making his last start of a lucrative six-year contract with Boston.

Cody Ross went two-for-three with an RBI single for Boston.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AFP, WASHINGTON

Michael Morse, Tyler Moore and Ryan Zimmerman each blasted home runs as the Washington Nationals clinched the National League’s top seed with a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.

The National League East champions entered into Wednesday’s regular-season finale needing a victory, or a loss by the Cincinnati Reds, to get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

“It’s quite an accomplishment [to have the best record],” Zimmerman said of the Nationals, who finished with an MLB-high 98 wins. “Obviously, winning the division was a goal, and now we have done that, and now we have a chance to go do some stuff in the playoffs.”

No Washington baseball team has made the playoffs since 1933.

Washington next play on Sunday against the winner of today’s wild-card game between Atlanta and St Louis.

Right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson gave up one run on six hits over 6-2/3 innings for the Nationals, who won the final two games of the three-game series against Philadelphia. Jackson fanned six and walked one batter.

Darin Ruf knocked in the only run for Philadelphia, who missed out on the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

Philadelphia were trying to finish with a record above .500 for a 10th straight season.

“It didn’t happen this year,” Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. “It’s pretty obvious the reasons why, no excuses. Reasons that we weren’t in the race pretty much for a lot of the season. We gave ourselves a chance when we got healthy.”

Nationals manager Davey Johnson left Wednesday’s game early because he felt numbness in his left leg, which was later diagnosed as a nerve issue.

In Pittsburgh, Ben Sheets made the 250th and final regular season start of his MLB career on Wednesday as the Braves shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0. The 34-year-old Sheets announced his retirement on Tuesday.

Matt Carpenter hit the go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift St Louis to a 1-0 victory over the Reds.

Defending champions the Cardinals, who clinched the second wild-card spot on Tuesday, travel to Atlanta for today’s wild-card contest.