Tigers Clinch Playoff Berth

Monday, September 25th 2006, 5:10 am
By: News On 6

Brandon Inge was there at the low point, when the Detroit Tigers set an AL record for losses by going 43-119 in 2003. Detroit fought off its late season slump and clinched its first playoff berth since 1987, scoring 9 runs in the 2nd inning Sunday and coasting to an 11-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

``I've been waiting for this,'' said Inge, who was given a champagne shampoo by teammates. ``You don't think about this in spring training, and then something like this happens.''

Oakland will have to wait for its celebration, however, after the Los Angeles Angels kept the Athletics from winning the AL West for the second straight day with a 7-1 victory.

The A's magic number remained at 2 to wrap up their first division title since 2003. Oakland faces Seattle on Monday at Safeco Field. The A's have won 15 straight against the Mariners.

``We still have it right in front of us,'' A's manager Ken Macha said.

In other games, it was: Minnesota 6, Baltimore 3; Chicago 12, Seattle 7; Tampa Bay 11, New York 4; Toronto 13, Boston 4; and Cleveland 11, Texas 6.

At Oakland, Ervin Santana (15-8) pitched 8 strong innings and Vladimir Guerrero hit a 2 run homer off Dan Haren (14-13). Los Angeles is 6 games behind Oakland and needs to win the division after it was eliminated from wild card contention earlier Sunday with Minnesota's 6-3 victory at Baltimore.

``It's meaningful for us to win,'' Angels center fielder Chone Figgins said. ``That's all we can control. We still have to think about tomorrow.''

The Tigers had no such worries after Craig Monroe hit a 3 run homer that gave Justin Verlander (17-9) an 8-0 lead and chased starter Runelvys Hernandez (6-10). Inge then homered on Todd Wellemeyer's 1st pitch.

Enjoying a turnaround season under new manager Jim Leyland, Detroit assured itself of no worse than the AL wild card berth and headed into the final week of the season with a 1 1/2-game lead in the AL Central over 2nd place Minnesota.

The Tigers, who regained the best record in the major leagues at 94-62, went ahead early for the second straight day, following up on Saturday's 10 run first.

``It is really overwhelming,'' said Tigers owner Michael Ilitch, who bought the team in 1992. ``It is probably one of the highlights of my life. In the final outs, we were all holding our breath. After the final out, I did a lot of hugging.''

Verlander allowed 2 runs and 6 hits in 6 innings, extending Kansas City's losing streak to 6.

``Those guys out there in the clubhouse made me pretty smart,'' Leyland said. ``I don't take the credit. I think I've been a beneficiary of catching them at the right time.''

Twins 6, Orioles 3

Joe Mauer and Phil Nevin hit 2 run homers for the visiting Twins, who have a 5 1/2-game lead over Chicago in the wild card race with 7 games left.

Miguel Tejada hit 2 solo homers and Corey Patterson also homered for Baltimore, which dropped 2 of 3 to the Twins and closed its home schedule at 40-41.

Twins starter Matt Garza (3-5) allowed 3 runs and 6 hits in 5 2-3 innings, and Joe Nathan got 3 outs for his 35th save.

Adam Loewen (6-6) gave up 4 runs, 3 earned, in 6 innings.

White Sox 12, Mariners 7

Paul Konerko homered twice, Juan Uribe had a grand slam, and Brian Anderson and Joe Crede also connected as Chicago tied it season high for homers and won for the 3rd time in 10 games.

Freddy Garcia (16-9) allowed 4 runs and 8 hits in 6 2-3 innings. Ryan Feierabend (0-1) was the loser for the visiting Mariners.

Devil Rays 11, Yankees 4

Mike Mussina (14-7) was hit on the glove hand by Carl Crawford's lined, sustained a bruise at the base of his left thumb and left the Yankees' loss in the 5th.

Mussina, who allowed 6 runs and 7 hits in 4 2-3 innings, said it was sore but shouldn't be an issue. He in line to pitch the 3rd game of the Yankees' 1st round playoff series.

Ty Wigginton had a 2 run single during a 6 run 4th at St. Petersburg and added a solo homer for the Devil Rays. Rookie Brian Stokes (1-0) got his first major league victory.

Blue Jays 13, Red Sox 4

David Ortiz hit his league leading 53rd homer, tying Babe Ruth's AL record of 32 on the road, but Wily Mo Pena misplayed 3 balls in right at Toronto and Kevin Youkilis misplayed 2 in left.

Lyle Overbay homered to back Gustavo Chacin (9-3), who allowed 3 runs and 6 hits in 5 plus innings. Kyle Snyder (4-5) gave up 4 runs and 7 hits in 3 innings.

Indians 11, Rangers 6

Grady Sizemore homered twice in the Rangers' home finale, including an inside the parker for his major league leading 90th extra base hit. Jake Westbrook (14-10) allowed 5 runs and 9 hits over 5 innings to beat Kevin Millwood (16-11), who had won his prior 4 home games.