The Oakland As spent just one day in sole possession of first place this season. The final day.
Oakland and Texas traded places Wednesday, the pursuing As completing a three-game sweep over the front-running Rangers with a 12-5 victory to steal the AL West division title and send Texas into a one-game wildcard playoff Friday.
Oaklands chumps-to-champs makeover was stunning on several fronts.
The As were nine games under .500 on June 10. They woke up July 1 in third place, still five games below break-even and 13.0 games behind the first-place Rangers. That day they beat Texas to avoid a four-game sweep and trigger a 57-26 closing stretch.
Wednesdays clinching victory followed the script of the As season-long chase. Texas jumped to an early 5-1 lead before Oakland erased it with a six-run fourth inning.
Elsewhere on a tense closing day in which two division titles, two wildcard spots and a rare Triple Crown were at stake:
• Three cheers for Cabrera: Detroits Miguel Cabrera became the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski led the American League in homers, RBIs and average in 1967.
Cabrera won the AL batting title with a .331 average and he led all of baseball with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.
Cabrera, who also led the Tigers to the AL Central Division title, is a favorite to win the AL MVP, but that honor isnt a lock.
History and a hot rookie could get in his way. Ted Williams twice won the Triple Crown (1942 and 1947) but didnt win the MVP in either season.
• Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who is a lock to win the AL Rookie of the Year, became the first rookie to hit 30 home runs and steal 40 bases. Trout entered Wednesday with 48 steals, just two shy of joining Eric Davis (37-50 in 1987) and Barry Bonds (33-52 in 1990) in the 30-50 club.
• Eye on Hamilton: Wednesdays performance aside, Raleighs Josh Hamilton enjoyed another huge year highlighted by his record-tying, four-home run game against Baltimore in May and record-setting vote total for the All-Star Game.
Hamilton, a five-time All-Star who will become a free agent after the season, hit. 285 and set career highs for home runs (43) and runs (103), and his 102 RBIs were two shy of his career best.
Hell try to lead the Rangers back to the World Series for the third consecutive year.
• Another Jeter milestone: Derek Jeter, 38, became the oldest player in history to lead the major leagues in hits in a full season. Jeter entered Wednesday with 215, just four shy of his career high.
Jeter is the second-oldest player to lead the AL in hits. Paul Molitor was 40 when he had an AL-best 225 hits in 1996. (Lance Johnson led the majors that season with 227.)
Twenty years ago, Jeter had just finished his first professional season in Class A Greensboro.