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A's Head Into Playoffs on a High Note

October 02, 2000|From Associated Press

Jason Giambi had three words for the New York Yankees.

"Bring them on!" he exclaimed in the champagne-drenched Oakland clubhouse after the Athletics clinched the American League West title and a first-round playoff series against the two-time World Series champions.

Tim Hudson earned his 20th victory, beating the Texas Rangers, 3-0, Sunday at Oakland in the regular-season finale.

It was scoreless until Ramon Hernandez hit an RBI double in the seventh, and Randy Velarde and Olmedo Saenz each added solo home runs in the eighth.

The A's, who will go to the playoffs for the first time since 1992, join Atlanta as the only teams with 11 division titles.

After the game, the A's spilled onto the field in celebration. Teammates Matt Stairs and Frank Menechino hoisted Giambi on their shoulders and paraded him before the sellout crowd, which chanted "MVP! MVP!"

Giambi batted .400 in September with 13 home runs and 32 RBIs. The last Oakland player with that many home runs in a month was Mark McGwire in July, 1996.

Although he was hitless Sunday, Giambi had 43 home runs and 137 RBIs.

With the victory, the Athletics avoided a trip to Tampa Bay for a makeup game today and got a day off to prepare for their playoff opener Tuesday night against the New York Yankees in Oakland.

Cleveland 11, Toronto 4--The charter plane waiting at the Cleveland airport for the Indians never got off the ground, and neither did the Indians. They were eliminated from the wild-card race despite winning their final game.

They had kept their slim playoff chances alive by beating the Blue Jays and David Wells, only to finish one game out when both Oakland and Seattle won their games.

Wells (20-8) lasted only 2 1/3 innings.

Manny Ramirez homered in perhaps his final at-bat for the Indians and Jim Thome, Sandy Alomar and Kenny Lofton had homers.

Baltimore 7, New York 3--The Orioles completed a sweep of the Yankees at Baltimore. It was the Orioles' first three-game sweep of the Yankees since 1991.

The Yankees ended the regular season with a seven-game losing streak, their longest since an eight-game skid in August 1995. It's the worst finish in Yankee history, the first time they have concluded a season with more than five losses.

The AL East champions are in the postseason for the sixth consecutive year, but have lost 15 of 18 overall and nine in a row on the road. The Yankees were outscored, 68-15, in their last seven losses and 137-56 in their final 18 games.

On Sunday, Chris Richard homered and stole home for the Orioles, who closed a miserable 74-88 season by winning seven of nine. Baltimore never trailed in the series and outscored New York, 29-6.

Detroit 12, Minnesota 11--Shane Halter became the fourth major leaguer to play all nine positions in a game, and capped his feat by scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning at Detroit.

Halter became the second player to play all nine positions in a game this season. Texas' Scott Sheldon did it Sept. 6 against the Chicago White Sox.

The only other players ever to do it were Bert Campaneris of the Kansas City Athletics in 1965 and the Twins' Cesar Tovar in 1968.

Kansas City 6, Chicago 2--White Sox Manager Jerry Manuel used the regular-season finale at Chicago as a time to celebrate. With the Royals on the way to victory after a five-run second, Manuel began pulling the starters in the sixth, letting them come off the field so they could be cheered.

The White Sox, whose 95-67 record was the best in the AL, open their first postseason appearance since 1993 at home against Seattle on Tuesday.

The Royals built their lead after pounding James Baldwin for five runs in the second, capped by Mike Sweeney's 29th homer. He finished with 144 RBIs, one behind Seattle's Edgar Martinez, the AL leader.

Baldwin (14-7), who took two weeks off with a sore shoulder before making a relief appearance last week, made his first start since Sept. 8.

Tampa Bay 3, Boston 2--Fred McGriff knocked in the game-winning run with a bases-loaded pinch-hit groundout in the 10th inning as the Devil Rays beat the Red Sox at St. Petersburg, Fla.

Boston's Nomar Garciaparra finished with a .372 average to become the first repeat AL batting champion since Wade Boggs won four in a row the Red Sox from 1985-88.

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