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The Closer: Tigers Welcome The 21st Century

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Notes from a day in baseball:

1. It Was A Very Good Year. It's champagne time for the Tigers, finally, after their 11-4 win over the Royals clinched at least a wild-card playoff berth in the AL Central. The last time that the Tigers were in the postseason, the Unabomber was still active (1987), so you can imagine their delight. Detroit is 1 1/2 games up on the Twins in the Central and have regained the best record in baseball at 94-62. Craig Monroe's three-run homer helped Justin Verlander (17-9) get the win. What do Detroit residents do to celebrate a wild-card berth? Overturn and burn toy cars?


2. Ask Not For Whom The Hells Bells Toll ... Trevor Hoffman — a big AC-DC fan, we hear — is your all-time Major League saves leader, as he corralled his 479th on Sunday in the Padres' 2-1 win over the Pirates. San Diego is 1 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Dodgers, and has anyone noticed that the Padres have the second-best team ERA in baseball, next to the Tigers?

3. Hollywoodland. Meanwhile, the Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks 5-1 on Nomar Garciaparra's grand slam with two out in the ninth, moving LA a half-game back of Philadelphia in the wild-card race. The Phillies stopped Florida 10-7 on Sunday.

4. Vlad The Impaler. The Athletics will not clinch at home this season, thanks to Vladimir Guerrero's two-run homer that powered the Angels' 7-1 win in Oakland. The A's magic number remains at 2.

5. One More For My Baby, (And One More For The Road). David Ortiz hit his 53rd home run (and 32nd road homer, tying Babe Ruth's record), but the Blue Jays still won 13-4. And (insert Benny Hill music here) Boston's Wily Mo Pena misplayed three balls in right and Kevin Youkilis misplayed two in left.

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