Cleveland miss out on play-offs

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The Independent Online

On the last day of the regular season, there were three teams chasing two American League play-off places. The Cleveland Indians put the pressure on, but Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners were more than up to the task.

On the last day of the regular season, there were three teams chasing two American League play-off places. The Cleveland Indians put the pressure on, but Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners were more than up to the task.

Hours after the Indians did what they had to do, beating Toronto Blue Jays 11-4, the Mariners and A's went out and secured the final two post-season spots. On the back of eight scoreless innings from the highly-rated young pitcher Tim Hudson, the A's beat Texas 3-0 to take the AL West title, their first since 1992. The Mariners finished off the Indians' hopes, beating Anaheim Angels 5-2.

"To go down to the last day of the season and the last pitch makes it especially rewarding," Seattle's manager Lou Piniella said. "We'll worry about Chicago tomorrow."

The A's meet New York Yankees in a series that begins tomorrow night. The Yankees, though they hope to become the first team since the 1972-74 A's to win three straight World Series, are on a seven-game losing streak - the longest season-ending run for a team headed for the play-offs.

"If this happens in June, it's just a blink of the eye and nobody talks much about it," third baseman Scott Brosius said. "The fact it is in September, everybody around wants to panic. I don't think this team is panicking. We like the team that we have."

The Mariners face the AL Central Division champions, Chicago White Sox.

In the National League play-offs, San Francisco meet New York Mets, who have made back-to-back post-seasons for the first time. To make things even sweeter, they actually secured their play-off spot before their rivals across the city. In the other NL play-off, Atlanta Braves - divisional winners for the ninth straight year - meet St Louis.

Several coaches paid the penalty for a poor season. Pittsburgh Pirates fired Gene Lamont after his side lost 93 games - when the franchise owner Kevin McClatchy had predicted it would win 90.

Jack McKeon was fired as manager of the Cincinnati Reds. McKeon was NL manager of the year in 1999 when the Reds, one of the smaller outfits, won 96 games and narrowly missed the play-offs. This season, the Reds finished second in NL Central, but 10 games behind St Louis.

Philadelphia Phillies' manager Terry Francona was fired after a season in which his team finished last in NL East and with the second-worst record in the National League.

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