Rangers clinch AL West title
Ron Washington slumped on the bench in an otherwise empty dugout and smiled a smile that said he was hiding a secret.
Spring training was still unfolding but already the focus was on the Angels and Seattle Mariners. Washington’s Rangers weren’t even an afterthought outside Texas.
“I know we can play baseball,” Washington said with a grin. “We just have to go out there and play.”
That faith and confidence was rewarded Saturday when Jorge Cantu’s eighth-inning home run lifted the Rangers to a 4-3 win over the Oakland Athletics, giving Texas its first American League West title in more than a decade.
But things are far from decided in the National League, where Troy Tulowitzki’s 10th-inning double scored Carlos Gonzalez as the Colorado Rockies rallied from a threerun deficit to beat San Francisco, 10-9. That, coupled with San Diego’s dramatic walk-off win over Cincinnati earlier in the day, moved the Padres back into first place in the West by a half-game over San Francisco. The loss dropped the Giants into a tie with victorious Atlanta for the lead in the wild-card race.
By the time all that happened, the Rangers were already partying like it was 1999 — the last time Texas reached the postseason.
“We committed to do something and we got it done,” Washington, wearing a champagne-soaked West Division champion T-shirt, told reporters. “It’s better than anything I’ve ever experienced.”
The Rangers’ win leaves the East the only AL division still up for grabs. And Tampa Bay is trying to bring that to a quick end as well.
Behind seven strong innings from Matt Garza (15-9) the Rays beat Seattle, 9-1, to win their fourth straight while the Yankees lost their fourth in a row at home, dropping a 9-3 decision to Boston and Jon Lester. That pushed Tampa’s lead over New York to 1½ games with eight games to play.
San Diego won when Chris Denorfia doubled with two out in the ninth, scoring Chase Headley to give the Padres a 4-3 victory. And in Colorado, the Giants started the day by complaining to the commissioner’s office that the Rockies might be giving “juiced” balls to the umpires when they were batting. The Rockies then went out and pounded San Francisco for 17 hits, becoming the first team in 19 games to score more than three runs against Giants pitching. The win moved Colorado to within four games of first in the division race and 3½ in the wild-card standings.