Oakland stuns Texas, wins West on final day


Oakland stuns Texas, wins West on final day

From Comcast SportsNet

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Josh Hamilton made one thing clear: The Texas Rangers will forget their stunning season-ending sweep at Oakland and regroup as an American League wild card.

So much for a third straight AL West crown. Texas needed one win against the upstart Athletics in three games, and didn't get it.

"You guys have a hard time believing we can forget about it and move ahead," Hamilton said. "But that's what we get paid to do. We'll go home, regroup and go figure out what we have to do."

The Athletics captured the AL West with another improbable rally in a season full of them, coming back from four runs down and a 13-game division deficit to beat the two-time defending league champion Rangers 12-5 on Wednesday.

Hamilton dropped a fly ball in center field for a two-run error that put the A's (94-68) ahead 7-5 in a six-run fourth inning. The A's only added to Texas' troubles the rest of the way.

"You can have all the experience as you want but when you run into a team that's hot, experience has nothing to do with it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

Texas (93-69) is headed to the new one-game, wild-card playoff at home against Baltimore on Friday night, with the winner playing the New York Yankees in the division series.

The A's get some time off before opening the division series in their first postseason appearance since 2006, playing Game 1 at Detroit on Saturday.

The Athletics needed a sweep and they delivered to win their first division crown in six years and 15th in all. They overcame a five-game deficit in the final nine days and took sole possession of the West's top spot for the first time this year.

"We knew this is a beast of a team we would have to beat, and to be able to beat them three games in a row and win the division on top of it, really it's a magical type thing," manager Bob Melvin said.

Grant Balfour retired Michael Young on a fly to center for the final out, then raised his arms in the air as the A's streamed out of the dugout and began bouncing up and down in the infield.

"2012 AL WEST CHAMPIONS" flashed on the scoreboard two days after the A's clinched a playoff spot Monday and held a wild dance party in the clubhouse.

"I'm glad there's not one tomorrow or Friday," owner Lew Wolff said. "I can relax and go home. I'm running out of underwear."

Players high-fived fans while taking a victory lap through the rundown Coliseum, where the outfield still has a light patch of grass from football in the venue shared by the NFL's Raiders.

Soon, the celebratory champagne and beer made its way to the field -- and players sprayed it into the stands. The A's returned to the field almost an hour later to greet fans still gathered along the top of the dugout.

Oakland pulled off another remarkable performance in a season defined by thrilling walkoffs, rallies and whipped-cream pie celebrations by a team that was never supposed to be here.

A club that trailed Texas by 13 games on June 30. A club with a 59.5 million payroll, lowest in baseball. General manager Billy Beane found ways to get a blue-collar franchise back to the playoffs for the first time since being swept by Detroit in the 2006 AL championship series.

Coco Crisp hit a tying two-run double in the fourth against Derek Holland (12-7) and Brandon Moss drove in three runs, including a two-run single in the four-run eighth.

Rookie winning pitcher Evan Scribner (2-0) left the mound in the sixth to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 30,067. He allowed two hits and struck out two in three scoreless innings after replacing struggling starter A.J. Griffin.

Ryan Cook, pitching for a fifth consecutive game, gave up a double to Nelson Cruz before retiring the next three Texas hitters with strikeouts of David Murphy and Mike Napoli. Catcher Derek Norris pumped his right arm as the Coliseum fans jumped to their feet.

Norris then homered leading off the bottom of the eighth for his second RBI. It was his seventh homer and Oakland's majors-leading 112th since the All-Star break.

"Ever since Day 1 I've been here, it's been, the A's can't compete with the payroll, can't compete with this team or that team," Norris said. "We're better off if we're down. It just gives us the extra energy."

The A's join the NL West champion San Francisco Giants as division champions. The Bay Area is already buzzing about a possible Bay Bridge World Series like the 1989 championship swept by Oakland, one interrupted by an earthquake.

Hamilton's miscue while charging forward might haunt the to-be free agent if his Rangers don't get past their wild-card game.

"I just missed it, man," Hamilton said.

Murphy's two-run single highlighted a five-run third inning that put Texas in prime position.

In the fourth, Moss drew a leadoff walk and Josh Reddick followed with an RBI double. Josh Donaldson singled and Seth Smith's base hit made it 5-3 and chased Ryan Dempster with none out and runners on first and second.

Washington turned to the lefty Holland, a starter who was tagged for four runs in the first inning of the second game of Sunday's doubleheader with the Angels before working into the seventh.

He retired the first two batters before Crisp's double down the right-field line.

The only other teams to come back from at least 13 games down to win the division were the 1914 Boston Braves, the 1951 New York Giants, the 78 Yankees and the 95 Seattle Mariners.

"Anything can happen in the long season," said Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, who will start the wild-card game. "That's why we play 162 games. We're going to forget about this and get ready for the next one."

Now, Texas has all the pressure as they try to make another run deep into October.

These are the same Rangers who twice came within one strike of the franchise's first World Series championship before losing Games 6 and 7 to the wild-card St. Louis Cardinals. It was Texas' second near miss in as many years after losing the 2010 World Series to the Giants.

"We have to go win that playoff game," Napoli said. "We didn't come here to lose. They got it done and we didn't, plain and simple. It's going to be a tough road."

Worth accounts for 5 TDs as No. 24 Navy beats Memphis

USA Today Sports

Worth accounts for 5 TDs as No. 24 Navy beats Memphis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Will Worth and No. 24 Navy played keep-away with Memphis while running the Tigers into the ground.

Worth rushed for a career-high 201 yards and three touchdowns, and the Midshipmen put on a dazzling display of ball control in a 42-28 victory Saturday.

In addition to operating the triple option in near-flawless fashion, Worth completed three of four passes for 85 yards and two scores.

"We take what we can get, and today, the quarterback run game was there," Worth said. "We could manage that and set up a couple of pass plays to be able to score through the air. It's just executing the game plan."

The last Navy player to reach the 200-yard mark on the ground was Keenan Reynolds in 2014.

Worth carried 31 times and orchestrated an attack that held the ball for nearly 40 minutes. That left high-scoring Memphis little time to counter-punch.

"It was kind of hard because we weren't doing a great job of getting off the field defensively," Tigers coach Mike Norvell said. "Offensively, it's hard to be in rhythm, it's hard to stay in rhythm."

The Midshipmen (5-1, 4-0 American Athletic Conference) gained a season-high 447 yards on the ground, averaging 6 yards per carry.

The victory put Navy in sole possession of first place in the AAC West and served as a suitable encore for its 46-40 upset of defending league champion Houston two weeks ago.

Navy's 14-game home winning streak is its longest at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium since the facility opened in 1959.

Tony Pollard returned a kickoff 100 yards and Riley Ferguson completed 25 of 40 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns for Memphis (5-2, 2-1). But the Tigers simply couldn't score enough to offset the damage inflicted by Navy's sensational running attack.

"They kind of got after us up front and we had a couple of assignment issues," Norvell said. "But I just thought they did a great job executing."

Worth's second touchdown run put Navy ahead 28-14 early in the third quarter. Memphis responded with a 9-yard TD pass from Furguson to Daniel Hurd.

As the clock wound down in the third quarter, Navy faced a fourth-and-4 at the Memphis 18. Norvell called a timeout, forcing the Midshipmen to deal with the possibility of a field goal try into a stiff wind. Instead, Navy sent its offense on the field and went up 35-21 on a touchdown pass from Worth to Tyler Carmona .

After Memphis again got within a touchdown, a 52-yard completion by Worth led to a 32-yard field goal try by Bennett Moehring. The kick clanged off the left upright with 5:40 to go.

But a fumble by Tigers wide receiver Roderick Proctor was recovered by Navy with 3:39 remaining, and Worth clinched it with a 1-yard plunge.

Worth, a 6-foot-1 senior, started the season as a second-string quarterback but was elevated to starting status after Tago Smith injured his right knee in the opener.

"Here's a kid who was a backup, kept his mouth quiet," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "Now he's doing great things."


Memphis forced 18 turnovers in its first six games, but the only one it got Saturday was when Worth hit the pylon trying to score a touchdown and lost control of the ball. The result was a touchback for the Tigers, whose lone turnover -- Proctor's fumble -- was far most costly.


Memphis: The Tigers came in as a slight favorite because their offense hadn't scored fewer than 24 points in any game. But the defense wasn't up for the challenge of Navy's running attack, and now Memphis needs help to get to the AAC title game.

Navy: The Midshipmen have proven they don't need Reynolds at quarterback to make the triple option sing. Navy's running game is tricky, shifty and just about unstoppable for teams not accustomed to chasing the quarterback, fullback and slotback all over the field.


Memphis: The Tigers host Tulsa next Saturday night at the Liberty Bowl.

Navy: The Midshipmen face AAC East Division co-leader South Florida (6-2, 3-1) on the road Friday night.

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Rangers hand Caps first regulation loss of the season

Rangers hand Caps first regulation loss of the season

The Caps fell for the first time in regulation this season, losing 4-2 to the New York Rangers on Saturday.

How it happened: The Capitals jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Rangers were able to respond with four unanswered goals including two by rookie Jimmy Vesey. The turning point came in the second period when Washington failed to score on a double-minor assessed to Mika Zibanejad after he caught T.J. Oshie with a high-stick. The Caps were winning 2-1 at the time of the penalty. By the end of the period, they trailed 3-2.

What it means: The loss is the Capitals' first regulation loss of the season. Despite the impressive 3-1-1 start, the Caps have now gone 1-1-1 against Metropolitan Division foes.

A tale of two periods: Coming into Saturday's game, the Capitals had scored first in each of their four contests this season. Saturday proved no different as the Caps jumped out to a 2-0 lead despite being outshot in the first period 13-10. In the second period, the Caps clamped down on the shots allowing only five...but the Rangers scored on three of those shots to take the 3-2 lead.


A star in the making: Vesey made headlines in the summer by not signing with the Nashville Predators, the team that drafted him, electing instead to wait until he became a free agent. The list of teams interested in signing the Hobey Baker winner as the top player in the college ranks was a long one. On Saturday, Vesey showed why with two goals. His first goal was a simple tap-in thanks to a great pass by Rick Nash. His second goal, however, came on a strong drive to the net, physically keeping Karl Alzner off the puck while neatly tucking the puck between the five-hole of Braden Holtby. That was a goal-scorer's goal and certainly did not look like a young rookie straight out of college.

A disturbing trend: For the second time in as many games, the Capitals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period only to watch that lead evaporate. On Thursday against the Florida Panthers, the Caps held a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period. They then were out-shot 14-4 in the second allowing the Panthers to tie the game at 2. On Saturday, Washington again jumped out to a 2-0 lead only to see the Rangers tie it in the second period. This time, however, Washington was not able to recover and ended up taking the loss.

First of many? The third line looked like it was starting to gel in Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers and that continued on Saturday as Lars Eller recorded his first goal as a Cap. Brooks Orpik held the puck near the blue line and wristed a hopeful shot. Eller stood in the high-slot and got his stick down to deflect into the back of the net.

Favorite target: There's just something about the New York Rangers. With his first period goal, Ovehckin has now scored a goal in 10 of his last 11 games against the Blueshirts. In addition, Ovechkin has scored more goals (21) against Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist than against any other goalie in his career.

Look ahead: Time for the Caps to pack their bags as they skip town for a four-game road trip that will take them across western Canada, their second-longest road trip of the season. Their first game comes on Wednesday against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. The Caps will not return to Verizon Center until Nov. 3 when they host the Winnipeg Jets.