Playoff spots undecided
Oakland, Calif. The seemingly endless playoff possibilities are inconsequential to Jason Giambi. It's all really very simple.
The Oakland Athletics, with 19-game winner Tim Hudson on the mound, must beat Texas today, he said.
"Final day. Down to one. The big gun going. You can't ask for much more than that," Giambi said.
Giambi hit his 43rd home run and Miguel Tejada had a grand slam as the AL West-leading A's beat Texas, 23-2, Saturday in the highest scoring game in franchise history.
With nine runs in the first inning and eight in the seventh, the A's remained a half-game ahead of Seattle for the division lead. The Mariners routed Anaheim, 21-9.
Cleveland kept the Athletics' champagne on ice, beating Toronto, 6-5, to stay alive for the wild-card berth. A Cleveland loss would have assured the A's their first playoff appearance since 1992.
If the A's win today, they claim the West and host either New York or Cleveland in the division series on Tuesday. They will not have to travel Monday for a makeup game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to decide the final playoff picture.
"We just know that we have to play good baseball and not worry about the 29 possible scenarios," Giambi said. "We want to control our own destiny and that's the way we've wanted it all along."
The 23 runs Saturday were a franchise record for the A's. In June they scored 21 runs against Kansas City to match their record against Boston on June 14, 1969. The 23 runs were the most ever allowed by the Rangers.
Texas manager Johnny Oates was stunned.
"Even in batting practice we don't hit the ball that well," he said.
Barry Zito (7-4) allowed one run on five hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out seven. Zito is now 5-1 in six September starts.
With the A's ahead 10-1 in the fifth inning, Terrence Long and Randy Velarde both singled before Giambi's RBI single. Olmedo Saenz walked and Tejada hit the second grand slam of his career.
The A's have a major league-record 14 grand slams. Atlanta had 12 in 1997 and Cleveland matched that last season.
When Giambi hit his solo shot over the center field wall in the third inning, the Coliseum crowd chanted "MVP! MVP!" It was his fifth homer in seven games.
Mariners 21, Angels 9
Anaheim, Calif. Alex Rodriguez broke out of his slump with two homers and seven RBIs as Seattle pounded Anaheim the most runs ever against the Angels to send the race for baseball's final two playoff spots down to the wire. With the AL West champion and a wild-card berth still to be decided, only one game separates Seattle, Oakland and Cleveland heading into today, the final scheduled day of the regular season.
Rodriguez, who had only three hits in his previous 29 at-bats, hit a two-run homer in the first inning, singled home a run in the fourth, then added three-run shot his 40th in the sixth. Rodriguez capped his day and equaled his career high of seven RBIs with a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Indians 6, Blue Jays 5
Cleveland Chuck Finley recorded his sixth win in September and Roberto Alomar hit home run as Cleveland put the pressure on Seattle and Oakland in the AL wild-card race. Manny Ramirez also homered. Cleveland, which coasted into the postseason the past five years, will now play a 162nd game that could mean a sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs. But to stay alive in the playoff picture, they'll probably have to beat Toronto's David Wells today.
Wells, a longtime Indians' nemesis, is 17-3 including 4-0 in the postseason with a 3.08 ERA in his career against Cleveland. He's 2-0 with 0.53 ERA in 17 innings against the Indians this year.
Red Sox 4, Devil Rays 2
St. Petersburg, Fla. Morgan Burkhart hit a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth inning as Boston beat Tampa Bay, ending the Devil Rays' six-game winning streak. Burkhart's third homer of the season came off Roberto Hernandez (4-7) and put the Red Sox up 3-2. Rico Brogna added a run-scoring double to complete the three-run rally.
Tigers 6, Twins 5 (11)
Detroit Dean Palmer's single scored the winning run in the 11th inning as Detroit beat Minnesota. AL saves leader Todd Jones (1-4) earned the win with three scoreless innings.
Orioles 9, Yankees 1
Baltimore Mike Mussina, pitching what could be his final game with the Orioles, turned in a solid performance as Baltimore beat David Cone and New York. Derek Jeter collected his 200 and 201st hits for the Yankees, who have lost six straight and 14 of 17.