With several star players sporting quiet offensive numbers this season, the Los Angeles Angels depended on their reliable defense and deep pitching staff to get them back to the playoffs.
And a little improvising didn't hurt either.
Manager Mike Scioscia recently converted Kelvim Escobar into a reliever after the right-hander spent three stints on the disabled list for a right elbow injury that required surgery in June to shave down a bone chip and remove a bone spur.
"We were able to stay positive and optimistic because it wasn't going to take a lot of offense," Scioscia said.
The Angels became the first American League team to clinch a postseason berth Tuesday night with their second straight 4-3 victory over the Athletics in Oakland, Calif. Los Angeles won its second consecutive division crown.
Now, the Angels believe they have the right mix to make a run at another World Series title after winning a ring in 2002 as a wild-card team loaded with dangerous bats.
"This is just a preview, man," said SS Orlando Cabrera, who won it all last October with the Red Sox. "I think we can do more than this."
The Angels are in the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in franchise history. They celebrated their latest title in the very place they won the West a year ago on the season's final Saturday, partying more wildly than ever.
"To go to the playoffs, at this stage, after what we've done, we deserve this celebration," said C Bengie Molina in the champagne-soaked clubhouse Tuesday.
Said P Jarrod Washburn: "We're capable of great things."
* LAWSUIT: Ichiro Suzuki sued a Taiwanese advertising company for unauthorized use of his image. The company, Chuanghsin, used pictures of the Mariners' outfielder in advertisements on buses, in department stores and in a magazine, Suzuki's representative, Chao Pei-li, said. Neither Chao nor Suzuki's agent, Yoshiki Okada, said how much compensation they were seeking.
* WHITE SOX WIN: The White Sox won coin flips and would host the Red Sox or Yankees if Chicago finishes with the same record as the AL East second-place team and a tiebreaker playoff is needed to determine the wild-card winner.
-- From News Services