The Texas Rangers finally clinched the AL West on their own, and they did it in grand style.
Rafael Palmeiro hit Texas's second grand slam in as many games, powering the Rangers to a 10-3 victory over the visiting Oakland Athletics yesterday that sealed their second straight division title and third in four years.
Texas finished off second-place Oakland with a weekend sweep that enabled the Rangers to celebrate on their own field for the first time. Another first was doing it with a victory; Texas learned it had clinched in 1996 and '98 during games it lost.
"This is probably the best way to do it," a soaking-wet Palmeiro said in the locker room as bench coach Bucky Dent handed him a victory cigar. "It's nice for the fans to see what it's like. Hopefully we can do it twice more."
The Rangers are on course for a first-round meeting with the New York Yankees, the only team they've played in the postseason.
DEVIL RAYS 6, YANKEES 5: In New York, Tony Graffanino hit Tampa Bay's team-record seventh double, capping a two-run rally in the eighth inning.
Bubba Trammell homered and doubled twice as the Devil Rays beat the Yankees for the second straight day after losing their first nine games at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees' magic number for clinching the AL East was trimmed to three. New York held its five-game lead over Boston, which lost to Baltimore.
INDIANS 11, BLUE JAYS 7: Wil Cordero hit a tie-breaking homer in the ninth inning as Cleveland spoiled Toronto's last home game of the season.
The Indians' Manny Ramirez drove in a run to reach 160 RBI, the most in the major leagues since Jimmie Foxx had 175 in 1938.
"Manny is MVP. If people don't vote for him, it's a shame," Indians center fielder Kenny Lofton said.
MARINERS 3, ANGELS 2: Raul Ibanez led off the ninth inning with a home run to give Seattle a victory over Anaheim in the Mariners' final home game of the season. The Mariners had their 30th sellout of the 42 games at Safeco Field.
TIGERS 6, ROYALS 1: Deivi Cruz, Dean Palmer and Gabe Kapler homered to back the strong pitching of rookie Dave Borkowski, and Detroit won in the next-to-last game in Tiger Stadium. Borkowski (2-5) gave up one run and four hits over eight innings.
WHITE SOX 3, TWINS 0: In Minneapolis, James Baldwin took a shutout into the ninth inning, and Chris Singleton and Paul Konerko hit consecutive homers for Chicago.