Yankees, Oakland Athletics claim division titles

LARRY FINE
Last updated 16:45 04/10/2012

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Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera became the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years while the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics claimed division titles on a wild final day to the Major League Baseball's regular season.

Cabrera left Thursday's (NZ Time) game in the fourth inning after going 0-for-2 at the plate and clinched the rare award shortly after when the Yankees pinch hit for Curtis Granderson, who was one home run shy of the Tigers slugger after a two-homer night.

The 29-year-old Venezuelan had a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 runs to become just the 15th player of all-time to win the Triple Crown and first since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

The Athletics capped a Cinderella 2012 regular season by completing a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers with a 12-5 home victory that gave them MLB's American League (AL) West title by a one-game margin.

The A's, who trailed two-time defending AL champion Texas by 13 games in June before battling back into the race, answered a five-run scoring burst by the Rangers in the third inning with six runs in the fourth and never relinquished the lead.

The victory improved the Athletics to 94-68, and sent the low-budget team to the postseason for the first time in six years. The loss dropped the Rangers, who led Oakland by five games with nine days to go, to 93-69.

The Yankees, behind a pair of home runs from both Granderson and Robinson Cano, pounded the Boston Red Sox 14-2 to clinch the American League East.

The victory lifted New York to a 95-67 record and made them the top seed in the American League with home field advantage through the League Championship Series.

The Baltimore Orioles dipped to 93-69 after a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays and settled for the wildcard berth.

Texas, who were already assured of a spot in the postseason, will host Baltimore in a one-game showdown to advance to the best-of-five divisional series.

The Yankees will travel to play the winner of that wildcard clash in their division series opener on Sunday.

The Detroit Tigers, who had already clinched AL Central title, will host the Oakland Athletics in the other division series.

Earlier, the Washington Nationals finished their Cinderella campaign in style by beating the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 to secure home-field advantage for the playoffs.

Washington, playing in the postseason for the first time, ended the season with a 98-64 record to ensure they go into the playoffs as number one seed in the National League.

The Nationals will play the winner of the wildcard game between the Atlanta Braves and St Louis Cardinals when their division series opens on Sunday.

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Cincinnati will start away to the San Francisco Giants in their division series.

- Reuters

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