Improbably, the California Angels blew an 11-game A.L. West lead. Just as improbably, they came back to make up three games on the Mariners in the final five days on the schedule.
Now the Angels head back to Seattle and try to complete their comeback where it began last week.
California, on the verge of joining baseball’s list of great chokers, beat the visiting Oakland Athletics 5-2 Sunday. The Angels’ fifth straight win left them tied with Seattle at 78-66.
“We were great for three-quarters of the season, lost it, but were able to pull it back together just in time,” said Jim Edmonds, who had four hits and drove in three runs.
Chuck Finley, who started California’s late-season comeback by defeating the Mariners 2-0 in Seattle last Wednesday, allowed four hits and struck out nine in 7-1/3 innings Sunday. He limited the Athletics to two runs, one a solo homer by Terry Steinbach in the second inning.
“We never felt we were done,” said the Angels’ J.T. Snow. “We kept persevering. We knew our chances were thinning, but we were focused enough to just keep driving as long as it mattered.”
Yankees 6, Blue Jays 1 Toronto
Don Mattingly made sure he’d finally make it to the playoffs, hitting a home run that helped New York clinch the A.L. wild card spot and its first postseason appearance since 1981 with the win over Toronto.
Mattingly has played 1,785 games without reaching the postseason - more than any active major leaguer and more than any Yankee. His solo homer in the fifth was the highlight of New York’s fifth straight win and its 11th victory in 12 games.
Indians 17, Royals 7 Cleveland
Cleveland closed its best season in 41 years with a resounding victory over Kansas City, reaching 100 victories for only the second time in franchise history.
The Indians, who made a habit of winning in the late innings this year, ended the suspense quickly by scoring 11 runs on 10 singles in the first two innings. They sent 12 batters to the plate in the first inning and the first six of them scored. Five of the first six batters in the second inning scored.
Brewers 8, Red Sox 1 Milwaukee
Rookie left-hander Scott Karl threw a five-hitter despite a sore finger, and John Jaha and Dave Nilsson each homered and drove in three runs as Milwaukee beat playoff-bound Boston.
Boston, which won the A.L. East in manager Kevin Kennedy’s first season, will play the the Cleveland Indians in the first round of the playoffs Tuesday.
Orioles 4, Tigers 0 Baltimore
Mike Mussina pitched Baltimore’s fifth straight shutout, matching an American League record, and the Orioles ruined Sparky Anderson’s final game as Detroit manager with the victory.
Mussina (19-9) pitched a two-hitter, striking out seven and walking two in his fourth shutout of the season. The right-hander’s 19 wins were tops in the A.L. this season, and he finished with a string of 26 consecutive scoreless innings.
White Sox 2, Twins 1 (11) Chicago
Frank Thomas became the only player in majorleague history to bat .300 with 20 homers, 100 RBIs, 100 walks and 100 runs over five straight seasons in Chicago’s victory over Minnesota.
Robin Ventura hit a game-winning single in the bottom of the 11th as the White Sox completed one of the most disappointing seasons in their history.
Clearing the bases
Jacobs Field in Cleveland was sold out for the 57th time this year, including the last 52 in a row. The crowd of 41,819 extended the franchise-record attendance total to 2,842,725… . Kenny Lofton won the A.L. stolen base title after stealing two more bases Sunday to finish with 54… . Detroit manager Sparky Anderson will announce his resignation in a news conference today. … Terry Bevington, who took over as Chicago White Sox manager June 2, will return as the club’s manager in 1996 after agreeing to a multiyear contract.