Coco Crisp hit a three-run home run, Daric Barton and Jed Lowrie each had a solo shot and the Oakland Athletics wrapped up their second American League West title in a row even before overpowering the Minnesota Twins, 11-7, Sunday.
The A’s clinched their 16th division title and 25th postseason appearance when Texas lost at Kansas City earlier.
Sonny Gray (4-3) gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings. The A’s scored six runs in the second inning and one in each of the next five innings.
The A’s had the fourth-lowest opening-day payroll at about $65 million.
Braves clinch National League East title
The Atlanta Braves clinched the National League East title and then rode two home runs by Andrelton Simmons to a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
The game was in the sixth inning when Washington lost to Miami, 4-2, giving the Braves their first division championship in eight years. There were a few high-fives in Atlanta’s dugout when the Marlins won and a couple of Braves fans did the tomahawk chop in the stands.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez high-fived a fan as he made his way to the dugout after a lineup change, and the celebration really picked up when Craig Kimbrel finished for his major league-best 49th save. The Braves poured out of the dugout and bullpen and jumped in a circle near the mound before retreating to the cramped visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field to continue the party.
Simmons hit a home run in the fourth inning and a two-run shot in the eighth, giving him 17 home runs.
Atlanta is headed to the playoffs for the second consecutive year and third time in four seasons. But it’s the first division title for the Braves since 2005, when they won 90 games and then lost to Houston in the division series.
Cardinals secure playoff spot
The St. Louis Cardinals clinched a playoff spot for the third consecutive year.
Washington’s loss to Miami in a doubleheader opener assured the Cardinals of at least an NL wild-card berth.
St. Louis began the day with a two-game lead over Pittsburgh and a three-game margin over Cincinnati in the NL Central. The Cardinals played Sunday night at Milwaukee.
Mariano Rivera is honored at Yankee Stadium
After honoring Mariano Rivera and celebrating Andy Pettitte, the New York Yankees had their AL wild-card hopes dim with a 2-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
The Yankees held a pregame ceremony and retired the No. 42 of Rivera, who announced during spring training that this would be his final season. Pettitte said Friday he also is leaving, and he started off with five hitless innings in what was probably his final Yankee Stadium start.
But Ehire Adrianza tied the score in the sixth inning with his first career home run. Leaving to standing ovations and a curtain call after Pedro Sandoval’s leadoff double in the eighth, Pettitte (10-11) watched Tony Abreu hit a go-ahead double against David Robertson.
In danger of finishing with a losing record for the first time in his 19-year career, Pettitte will make his final start against his hometown Astros in Houston.
On a sun-splashed afternoon and in front of a sellout crowd of 49,197, the Yankees honored Rivera by bringing back several of the players who helped them win four World Series titles from 1996 to 2009, including Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, David Cone, Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez.
Pettitte, 41, initially retired after the 2010 season, sat out one year and then returned.
While Rivera has saved 72 of Pettitte’s victories, the most for any tandem in major league history, Girardi called on the 13-time All-Star after Abreu’s double.
Adrianza broke a bat striking out and Angel Pagan hit a sinking liner to center field that Curtis Granderson snared with a tumbling catch.
Phillies retain Ryne Sandberg as manager
Ruben Amaro Jr., the Philadelphia Phillies’ general manager, didn’t see a reason to wait until the off-season to explore other possibilities.
So Amaro removed the interim tag from Ryne Sandberg, signing him to manage the next three years.
“I think this is the right person to take us forward,” Amaro said. “I know his philosophy on the importance of cohesiveness throughout the organization, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for. I know he understands the importance of player development and scouting, he’s got an idea and a vision of what’s necessary to move this organization forward.”
Sandberg had been serving as interim manager since the Phillies fired Charlie Manuel on Aug. 16. He began the season as the Phillies’ third base coach after managing the Phillies’ triple-A Lehigh Valley club for two years.
The move was not a surprise, but Sandberg expressed his relief that it finally became official.
“I think there’s been a very large weight lifted off of me,” Sandberg said. “I’m still focused on the last eight games, still focused on today’s game to tell you the truth, but I’m looking forward to not only the eight games left but to 2014 and getting the wheels turning in that direction.”
Before joining the Phillies organization, Sandberg managed in the Chicago Cubs’ minor league system for four years. As a player, Sandberg spent 15 of 16 major league seasons with the Cubs. He left the organization in 2010 shortly after Chicago hired Mike Quade as manager and joined the Phillies, the team that drafted him and traded him to the Cubs in 1982.
Sandberg was Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Nationals honor Davey Johnson
The Washington Nationals honored Davey Johnson, paying tribute to the retiring 70-year-old manager who last season guided the team to its only playoff appearance.
Johnson was feted during a 15-minute ceremony that featured video tributes and highlights of his playing and managing career.
“It was really nicely done,” Johnson said of the ceremony after the Nationals lost to the Marlins in the first game of a doubleheader.
Johnson, who joined the Nationals’ front office in 2006, took over as manager in June 2011 after Jim Riggleman resigned. He had a 221-178 record with Washington going into the doubleheader.
Johnson was NL manager of the year last season after leading the Nationals to a 98-64 record and the NL East title. They were defeated by St. Louis in an NL division series.
Johnson won the 1986 World Series with the New York Mets and was the AL manager of the year in 1997 after guiding the Orioles to a 98-64 mark.