Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Athletics, Yankees Clinch Division Titles The

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Athletics, Yankees Clinch Division Titles The

Article excerpt

A dropped fly ball by Josh Hamilton, a home run from Ryan Zimmerman and pitch by pitch the baseball playoff picture became completely clear on the final day of the regular season.

"Now the real season starts," New York Yankees star Derek Jeter said Wednesday night.

The playoffs begin Friday with two winner-take-all wild-card matchups. The defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals visit Chipper Jones and the Atlanta Braves in the National League, then Baltimore plays at Texas in the American League as part of the new, expanded format.

Saturday, the newly crowned AL West Division champion Oakland Athletics will face Triple Crown-winner Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and the Tigers in Detroit to open the best-of-five division series.

That night, Johnny Cueto starts for Cincinnati against Matt Cain and host San Francisco in Game 1 of the NL division series.

The low-budget A's clinched their unlikely title, 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.

"It shows how important Game 162 is," Oakland designated hitter Jonny Gomes said. "I don't think it took 162 games to check the character of this ballclub."

The Yankees claimed the AL East a few hours later. They began celebrating in the dugout in the seventh inning when the scoreboard showed second-place Baltimore had lost, 4-1, to Tampa Bay, thanks to three home runs by Evan Longoria.

Jeter, a five-time World Series champion, and the Yankees put an emphatic end on their finish, routing rival Boston, 14-2.

A year after a thrilling, last-day scramble for playoff spots, all 10 slots were filled going into the afternoon. Soon enough, the pairings were set.

Also a done deal: Cabrera won the majors' first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. …

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