Once they got their chance to go head-to-head, the Anaheim Angels showed Oakland which team was best in the AL West.
After chasing the Athletics all September, the visiting Angels scored three times in the eighth inning to beat Oakland, 5-4, yesterday and clinch their first division title in 18 years.
The teams were tied for first place when the series began Friday, and many expected the race to come down to the last day of the season. But Anaheim ended the suspense with two consecutive wins.
"I knew our guys weren't going to melt," Manager Mike Scioscia said moments before getting soaked in champagne by several players. "We have a lot of very, very talented players."
That's for sure.
Darin Erstad hit a tying, two-run double, then scored on Garret Anderson's single as the Angels earned their first playoff berth since 2002, when they won the World Series as the wild card.
Vladimir Guerrero homered for the Angels, who trailed Oakland by one game last Monday. But after beating the A's, 10-0, Friday night, Anaheim won again to wrap it up.
The Angels have won seven of eight overall and are 20-7 in their last 27 road games.
It's still not clear who the Angels will face in the first round of the playoffs -- it will either be the New York Yankees or Boston.
After seven strong innings by A's starter Barry Zito, the lefty told Manager Ken Macha he couldn't go out for the eighth because his legs had become stiff the past two innings and it was affecting his pitching.
Then, A's relievers Jim Mecir, Ricardo Rincon (1-1) and Octavio Dotel couldn't hold a 4-2 lead.
"I asked [pitching coach] Curt [Young] if he was confident in the bullpen right now and he said yes," Zito said. "In retrospect, it was the wrong call. But my legs were tightening up for the last couple of innings. I have to trust myself. I'm going to pitch as long as I can."
* BLUE JAYS 4, YANKEES 2: Roy Halladay pitched eight strong innings to help Toronto beat Kevin Brown at SkyDome.
Brown (10-6), auditioning for a spot in the Yankees' postseason rotation, held the Blue Jays to one hit -- Vernon Wells's double in the fourth -- and one unearned run through five innings.
* INDIANS 5, TWINS 5 (suspended): Minnesota and Cleveland were tied after 11 innings when the game was suspended because the Metrodome field needed to be changed over for the later Penn State-Minnesota football game.
The Twins and Indians will resume at 1:10 p.m. today, followed by the regularly scheduled season finale between the two teams.
* TIGERS 5, DEVIL RAYS 1: Marcus Thames had his first two-homer game and drove in three runs, and Gary Knotts pitched solid ball into the eighth inning in Detroit's victory at home. Craig Monroe also homered for the Tigers, who set a major league record by having 11 players with at least 10 home runs.
* RANGERS 10, MARINERS 4: Texas's Michael Young had a two-run homer and got three hits, spoiling Edgar Martinez Day in Seattle.
The sellout crowd of 45,817 got a special treat when Martinez, Seattle's retiring designated hitter, started the ninth inning at third base. He stayed in for one pitch, leaving to a standing ovation. It was Martinez's first appearance at third since July 2, 1997.
* ROYALS 10, WHITE SOX 2: Ruben Gotay drove in four runs with his first major league homer and a triple, helping Brian Anderson and host Kansas City snap a seven-game losing streak.