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Angels in heaven as they clinch West

Angels in heaven as they clinch West

Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2008 9:54 pm
By: By The Associated Press

Torii Hunter missed the game because of a suspension. He certainly took part in the celebration.
Wearing a pair of goggles, he got down on the clubhouse floor to do the butterfly and backstroke in a puddle of champagne and beer Wednesday after the Los Angeles Angels became the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot this season.
“I love it. I’m Michael Phelps,” the center fielder hollered.
The Angels won the AL West for the fourth time in five years, beating the New York Yankees 4-2 and waiting an hour to watch second-place Texas lose to Seattle 8-7.
Much later, after the clock passed midnight at Fenway Park, Tampa Bay beat Boston 4-2 in 14 innings. The Rays increased their AL East lead over the Red Sox to 21/2 games.
Carlos Pena hit a three-run homer in the 14th — the Rays had been just 1-for-35 with runners in scoring position during the season. Then when closer Troy Percival’s back stiffened, Jason Hammel took over with the bases loaded and no outs and retired three straight batters for his first save since Class A in 2002.
Hammel had started throwing in the bullpen in the 14th, not expecting to get into the game.
“I figured I’d just get some work in,” Hammel said. “I hadn’t pitched in five days. I wanted to get up and keep the arm fresh. I figured Perc would close it out.”
In other AL games, it was: Chicago 6, Toronto 5; Minnesota 7, Kansas City 1; Oakland 5, Detroit 2; and Cleveland 7, Baltimore 1.
Several hundred fans were still in the stands at Anaheim when the clinching became official, and they got to party with the Angels as the scoreboard flashed “2008 AL West champions.”
Team owner Arte Moreno came back onto the field, clapping his hands and giving the thumbs-up to the crowd. A couple of players took the hose behind the pitcher’s mound and sprayed their teammates and fans.
“Right now I’m more interested in how we finish out the season and get prepared to play in the playoffs,” Moreno said. “Obviously you always like to have home-field advantage in the playoffs. I told them during spring training that I needed some jewelry.”
The win put Mark Teixeira into the postseason for the first time. The Angels got him from Atlanta in a late trade, and the star first baseman is part of the reason his new team has the best record in baseball.
“I can say it now, but the first thing I thought about when the Braves told me I was traded to the Angels was the playoffs. Some great players play their entire careers without ever getting a taste of the postseason. And I’m going to have that opportunity this year,” Teixeira said.
Rays 4, Red Sox 2
Tampa Bay took more than five hours to finish off yet another improbable win. The teams will meet next week for three games at Tropicana Field, where the Rays are 6-0 against Boston.
After each team squandered chances, Pena put the Rays ahead when he connected against Mike Timlin for his 28th home run.
The Red Sox tried to rally in the 14th and quickly loaded the bases. Hammel came in with a 4-1 lead and gave up a sacrifice fly to Kevin Youkilis, struck out Jason Bay and got Alex Cora on a fly ball.
Timlin (4-4) tied Kent Tekulve for the most appearances by a right-handed reliever with 1,050.
White Sox 6, Blue Jays 5
At Chicago, Mark Buehrle (13-11) outpitched Roy Halladay (18-10) and the White Sox ended Toronto’s 10-game winning streak.
A.J. Pierzynski drove in three runs as Chicago held its one-game lead over Minnesota in the AL Central. The Blue Jays came within one victory of matching the longest winning streak in team history.
Twins 7, Royals 1
At the Metrodome, Kevin Slowey pitched seven effective innings and the Twins posted consecutive wins for the first time in almost three weeks.
Minnesota (80-65) passed last year’s win total. Kansas City lost for the 13th time in 15 road games.
Indians 7, Orioles 1
At Baltimore, Scott Lewis made an impressive major league debut by pitching three-hit ball for eight scoreless innings.
Lewis struck out three, walked none and came within three outs of being the first Cleveland pitcher since Luis Tiant in 1964 to throw a shutout in his first big league game.
Kelly Shoppach hit two solo homers. Baltimore has lost 10 of 11.
Athletics 5, Tigers 2
At Detroit, Ryan Sweeney and Jack Cust hit back-to-back homers in the first inning to lead Oakland. Sean Gallagher came off the disabled list and pitched four hitless innings.
Mariners 8, Rangers 7
At Seattle, Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez each had four hits for the Mariners.
Nelson Cruz, Taylor Teagarden and Hank Blalock hit two-run homers for Texas.

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