While the AL West is still waiting to be won, the Central is all done.
The Cleveland Indians wrapped up their fourth straight division title Wednesday night with an 8-6 win over the Minnesota Twins.After the final out, the club gathered near the wall in left field at Jacobs Field, where a "98" was unveiled to signify the Indians' latest accomplishment. They don't want it to be their last conquest this year.
"Now comes the hard part," Manny Ramirez said. "We've got to keep going until we get the ring. Everybody in Cleveland wants to win it all."
Ramirez has certainly been doing his part of late. He hit his 41st and 42nd home runs, giving him homers in four straight at-bats and five in two games, tying two major league records.
Ramirez, who homered in his last three at-bats Tuesday night, homered on a 1-1 pitch from Minnesota's Bob Tewksbury (7-11) in the first. After grounding out in the second, Ramirez hit a 3-2 pitch to left for his fifth homer in six at-bats.
The power seemed to be contagious for the Indians.
Jim Thome, out for six weeks with a broken hand, followed Ramirez's homer in the first with a solo homer to left, his 30th and first since July 29. And Richie Sexson, who filled in for Thome, hit his 11th as the Indians took a 5-0 lead.
RANGERS 5, ANGELS 3: Texas finally caught Anaheim in the standings after the Angels were alone in first since passing the Rangers on Aug. 14.
Todd Stottlemyre (4-4) pitched his best game yet for Texas, allowing six hits in eight innings at The Ballpark. Royce Clayton drove in two runs, scored once and made a nice defensive play at shortstop, and Todd Zeile had an RBI double. All three were acquired before the trading deadline to help the Rangers' playoff push.
BLUE JAYS 2, TIGERS 1: Roger Clemens (19-6) won his 14th straight decision - the longest streak in the AL since he did it in 1986 - as Toronto won at Detroit.
Clemens struck out 11 in 72/3 innings, allowing only four hits. The four-time Cy Young Award winner is tied for the major league lead in victories and tops the AL in ERA (2.63) and strikeouts (245).
The Blue Jays won for the 15th time in 19 games and remained four games behind Boston for the wild-card spot.
WHITE SOX 9, ROYALS 4: At Chicago, Albert Belle capped a seven-run, seventh-inning outburst with his 46th homer and set a team record with his 139th RBI.
Belle, who earlier this season broke Frank Thomas' club record of 41 home runs, surpassed the White Sox record of 138 RBIs by Zeke Bonura in 1936.
RED SOX 4, ORIOLES 3: At Baltimore, Tom Gordon matched a major league single-season record with his 38th consecutive save and set a Red Sox mark with his 41st save this season.
Boston held its four-game lead in the wild-card race over Toronto.
Gordon's 38 successive saves ties the single-season record set by Cleveland's Jose Mesa in 1995, and his 41 saves snapped the franchise record of 40 by Jeff Reardon in 1995.
DEVIL RAYS 7, YANKEES 0: Tony Saunders (6-14) pitched six scoreless innings and Tampa Bay beat AL East champion New York for the first time.
The visiting Yankees were the only AL team the expansion Devil Rays had not defeated.
MARINERS 4, ATHLETICS 1: Ken Griffey Jr. became the third major leaguer with at least 50 homers and 20 steals as Seattle won at Oakland.
Griffey, who came into the game with an AL-leading 52 homers, singled in the eighth and stole second - his 20th steal this season. The only other 50-20 players in baseball history are Willie Mays (51 HR, 24 SB in 1955) and Brady Anderson (50 HR, 21 SB in 1996).
CARDINALS 4, PIRATES 0: A day after giving up Mark McGwire's 63rd home run - and getting an autographed ball from the slugger - Pittsburgh reliever Jason Christiansen almost served up No. 64.
McGwire hit a high fly ball in the seventh inning that eventually fell into left fielder Turner Ward's glove on the warning track.
McGwire went 0-for-3 with a walk. He has 155 walks, 15 behind the major league record Babe Ruth set in 1923.
METS 4, ASTROS 3: In 1986, New York and Houston met in one of baseball's most thrilling playoff series. This week at the Astrodome, the teams brought back memories from that matchup, which the Mets won in six games.
Pinch-hitter Todd Hundley homered with two out in the 11th inning, capping four games full of late drama.
Mike Piazza hit a three-run homer with two out in the ninth that put the Mets ahead 3-2, but Brad Ausmus' homer in the bottom half and sent the clubs to extra innings for the third time in three days.
GIANTS 6, DIAMONDBACKS 5: Barry Bonds tripled home the tiebreaking run in the 10th inning as San Francisco won at Arizona. The Giants remained 41/2 games behind Chicago in the wild-card race.
EXPOS 3, MARLINS 2: In what might have been their last game at Montreal, the Expos rallied for two runs with two outs in the ninth inning to beat Florida.
Pinch-hitter Robert Perez singled home the tying run and pinch-hitter Jose Vidro doubled home the game-winner.
The team's owners have set a Sept. 30 deadline to decide whether sufficient financing is available to build a $165 million downtown stadium. If not, the club will likely be sold and moved, possibly for the start of the 1999 season.
BRAVES 5, PHILLIES 1: John Smoltz tuned up for the playoffs by pitching six shutout innings, and Atlanta kept the best record in the NL.
Smoltz (16-3) held visiting Philadelphia to three hits. Eddie Perez, who went 3-for-3, and Chipper Jones homered for the Braves.
DODGERS 2, ROCKIES 0: Brian Bohanon struck out a career-high 10 in eight scoreless innings as Los Angeles beat visiting Colorado.
The Dodgers backed Bohanon (7-10) with four double plays. Reliever Jeff Shaw induced another double play in getting his 44th save.
BREWERS 2, REDS 0: Bill Pulsipher pitched six effective innings, and Milwaukee won at Cincinnati.