The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

October 4, 2012

A's win AL West, Yanks take AL East, pairings set

(Continued)

The Yankees later claimed the AL East championship. They began celebrating in the dugout during the seventh inning when the scoreboard showed second-place Baltimore had lost 4-1 to Tampa Bay, thanks to three home runs by Evan Longoria.

Jeter, a five-time World Series champion, and the Yankees put an emphatic end on their finish, routing rival Boston 14-2.

The Yankees hold home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs, and will open Sunday at either Baltimore or Texas in a best-of-five series. In a one-year arrangement made necessary by the new wild-card format, the division series begin with two games at the lower-seeded team.

On Saturday night, Johnny Cueto starts for Cincinnati against Matt Cain and host San Francisco in Game 1 of the NL division series.

Ryan Zimmerman and the Washington Nationals got sized for hats with postseason patches, then beat Philadelphia 5-1 to earn home-field advantage all the way through November, if necessary.

There was another winner at Nationals Park, too. The Teddy Roosevelt mascot took the in-game Presidents Race for the first time. Ol' Teddy had lost more than 500 dashes to the 10-foot foam representations of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

"I am so glad Teddy won, so we can stop talking about Teddy. People get more excited for a mascot race than a game," Zimmerman said.

Washington and well-rested 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez will play Sunday at the NL wild-card winner.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson is expected to be all right for the opener. He left the dugout in the seventh inning Wednesday because of numbness in his left leg, the result of pinched nerves in his back.

"I'm OK. Nothing wrong with me," he said.

Atlanta's Kris Medlen will throw the first pitch of this year's playoffs. The Braves have won a record 23 straight games when he's started. Kyle Lohse starts for St. Louis.

For Jones, it could be his last appearance in the majors. The Braves star is retiring at age 40.

"Now we've got to get over this one-game playoff thing to give ourselves a legitimate shot at what we were all shooting for out of spring training," he said.

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