The Cleveland Indians clinched their fifth straight AL Central title last night despite a 3-0 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Hours after the Indians left the ballpark in Arlington, Tex., they clinched the title when second-place Chicago was eliminated with a 6-5, 10-inning loss at Anaheim.
Cleveland could have clinched on the field, but John Burkett humbled the highest-scoring team in the majors for the second time in three weeks, then got some clutch relief from Tim Crabtree.
Burkett (7-7) used a variety of slow but well-located pitches to baffle the Indians for 6 2/3 innings. He retired the first batter in every inning and wasn't in trouble until Cleveland put runners on second and third in the seventh. That's when he left to a chorus of cheers.
After Mike Venafro walked Roberto Alomar, loading the bases, Crabtree ended the threat by striking out pinch-hitter Manny Ramirez on a 98 mph fastball.
"I couldn't have located it any better and he swung and missed," said Crabtree, who retired all four batters he faced.
ATHLETICS 6, RED SOX 2: Kevin Appier pitched six innings and host Oakland benefited from three Boston errors leading to four unearned runs.
YANKEES 9, ROYALS 5: In Kansas City, Mo., Luis Sojo hit a three-run double and Darryl Strawberry scored three runs. Mariano Rivera got the final five outs to become the first Yankees' pitcher with two 40-save seasons.
TIGERS 5, DEVIL RAYS 1: Dave Mlicki won his seventh straight start and Deivi Cruz had three RBI, leading visiting Detroit to its third straight win.
MARINERS 4, BLUE JAYS 3: In Seattle, Tom Lampkin hit a two-run homer in the ninth to give host Seattle the win. Ken Griffey Jr. hit his AL-leading 44th homer in the eighth.
ANGELS 6, WHITE SOX 5: In Anaheim, Calif., Chicago lost in 10 innings, to hand Cleveland the AL Central title.