A's win AL West, Yanks & O's to settle AL East

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 04, 2012 01:45 hrs

, the baseball playoff picture became a bit more clear on the final day of the regular season.

The Oakland Athletics clinched the AL West, trumping Texas 12-5 by taking advantage of Hamilton's error. Trailing by 13 games a week before the All-Star break, the A's overcame a four-run deficit Wednesday to relegate the Rangers to a wild-card spot.

The Athletics' next destination — for the moment, anyway — was uncertain. Not that they seemed to mind.

"I'll get there when I get there," manager Bob Melvin said.

The New York Yankees hoped to claim the AL East crown a few hours later when they hosted Boston. The Yankees owned a one-game edge over the Baltimore Orioles, who played at Tampa Bay.

A year after a thrilling, last-day scramble for playoff spots, all 10 slots had already been filled. But the AL pairings were still to be determined, plus another monumental achievement was at stake: Miguel Cabrera was in position to win the majors' first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

The playoffs begin Friday when the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals visit Chipper Jones and the Atlanta Braves in the winner-take-all NL wild-card matchup.

Kris Medlen will pitch for the Braves, who have won a record 23 straight games when he's started. Kyle Lohse starts for St. Louis.

"Now we've got to get over this one-game playoff thing to give ourselves a legitimate shot at what we were all shooting for out of spring training," said Jones, retiring at age 40.

On Saturday night, Johnny Cueto will start for visiting Cincinnati against Matt Cain and San Francisco in Game 1 of the NL division series.

Zimmerman and the Washington Nationals got sized for hats with postseason patches, then beat Philadelphia 5-1 to earn home-field advantage all the way through November, if necessary.

There was another winner at Nationals Park, too. The Teddy Roosevelt mascot took the in-game Presidents Race for the first time. Ol' Teddy had lost more than 500 dashes to the 10-foot foam representations of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

"I am so glad Teddy won, so we can stop talking about Teddy. People get more excited for a mascot race than a game," Zimmerman said.

Washington and well-rested 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez will play Sunday at the NL wild-card winner in Game 1 of the best-of-five division series.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson is expected to be all right for the opener. He left the dugout in the seventh inning Wednesday because of numbness in his left leg, the result of pinched nerves in his back.

"I'm OK. Nothing wrong with me," he said.

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