MLB team clinches 1st playoff berth since '97

879877.jpg

MLB team clinches 1st playoff berth since '97

From Comcast SportsNetBALTIMORE (AP) -- The champagne was on ice, plastic shields were in place above the cubicles in the Baltimore clubhouse and couches were removed to accommodate a celebration 15 years in the making.The party never happened -- at least not at the ballpark after the Orioles beat Boston 6-3 Sunday.Baltimore ultimately clinched its first playoff berth since 1997, but not until late Sunday when the Texas Rangers beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-7 in the finale of a day-night doubleheader.The Orioles are assured a wild-card berth, but they're looking to get into the postseason as AL East champions. Upon arriving in Tampa area, where the Orioles open a season-ending series at the Rays on Monday night, manager Buck Showalter said, "I think everybody knows where the finish line is, and we're not there."He added, "There are steps to it. One is assuring yourself of getting a chair at the dance. And then we'd like to figure out a way to play some games at our park in front of our fans. It's in our court."The Orioles remained tied atop the division standings with the New York Yankees, who rallied to beat Toronto 9-6 and also clinched no worse than a wild-card berth.Both contenders have three games left. New York begins a season-ending series against visiting Boston on Monday night, and the Orioles face the Rays."We'll see where the next three games take us," Showalter said.After the final out of their win over the Red Sox, around two dozen players and coaches took scoreboard watching to a new level by staying on the field at Camden Yards and rooting for the Rangers to win the opener,Orioles players exchanged high-fives and fist-bumps following their fourth straight victory, then gathered along the first-base line to watch the scoreboard telecast of the ninth inning, which began with Texas winning 4-3.Many in the crowd of 41,257 stood and watched, too.But a two-out, two-run double by Torii Hunter put the Angels in front and ruined the fun. As the Orioles walked off the field, Showalter waved to the crowd and offered a fist-pump of encouragement.Sitting in front of his locker with a beer in his hand, first baseman Mark Reynolds said, "It would have definitely been cool to celebrate with our fans. They've been supporting us all year. To be able to celebrate out there with them and take in the moment, it would have been pretty neat."Baltimore held out hope of cracking open a few cases of champagne in Florida."I take particular enjoyment in ruining someone else's clubhouse," reliever Darren O'Day said.Shortstop J.J. Hardy added, "I'm not going to say there's no disappointment, but we all understand we need to keep playing good baseball to get where we want to be. We'll just worry about ourselves and win the next three games."Who'd have thought the Orioles would be talking about division titles, playoff berths and champagne after 14 consecutive losing seasons and four straight last-place finishes? The Orioles (92-67) already have 23 more wins than a year ago."Our goal now is try to figure out a way to play some more baseball games here at Camden," Showalter said. "Hopefully, it's see you later."Hardy, Nate McLouth and Chris Davis hit solo homers, and Jim Thome drove in two runs for Baltimore. The Orioles completed a sweep and went 13-5 against Boston, their most wins in a single season versus the Red Sox since 1970 (13-5).Joe Saunders (3-3) allowed three runs, eight hits and no walks in 7 1-3 innings for Baltimore. Obtained in a late-August trade with Arizona, Saunders has yielded a total of 12 earned runs in his last six starts.Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his 50th save.Cody Ross and Daniel Nava homered for the last-place Red Sox, who have dropped five straight and 16 of 22. Boston (69-90) last lost 90 games in 1966."We haven't had a good season," manager Bobby Valentine acknowledged.Zach Stewart (0-2) gave up five runs and seven hits, including two homers, in 2 2-3 innings. In three starts this season he's surrendered eight home runs.After being beaten and bashed by the Orioles, who hit seven homers in the three-game series, the Red Sox now head to Yankee Stadium.A sunny, breezy fall afternoon couldn't have started much better for the Orioles. After the video board showed the Yankees and Angels losing early, McLouth hit the fourth pitch from Stewart over the left-field wall."After that just trying to do damage control," Stewart said. "Try to keep it at that score. Obviously I didn't do that."Hardy and Davis followed with singles before Stewart hit Jones with a pitch to load the bases. After Matt Wieters bounced into a run-scoring 4-6-3 double play, Thome followed with grounder up the middle that beat the shift and rolled into the outfield, scoring Davis for a 3-0 lead.Boston wasted doubles in the second and third innings before Hardy led off the bottom of the third with his 22nd home run. Jones singled with one out, and Thome chased Stewart with an RBI single.Ross homered in the fourth to get the Red Sox to 5-1. Davis connected off Clayton Mortensen in the fifth, his 31st homer of the season and fourth in four games.Nava homered in the seventh with a man on.NOTES:Jones was chosen Orioles MVP in a vote among media covering the team, the second straight year he's won the award. "It is given to me, but I think the whole team deserves it," he said. ... Boston hit three doubles and now has a major-league leading 214 for the season. ... Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz, who's 2-4 with a 5.84 ERA lifetime against the Yankees, starts Monday night against CC Sabathia. Rookie Wei-Yin Chen (12-10) starts for Baltimore in Tampa Bay against Alex Cobb (10-9). ... The top three players in the Baltimore lineup -- McLouth, Hardy and Davis -- combined to go 6 for 10 with three HRs and five runs.

Instant Replay: Warriors score 50 in third, win 10th straight vs Clippers

Instant Replay: Warriors score 50 in third, win 10th straight vs Clippers

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Shaken by a languid and sloppy first half, the Warriors woke up after halftime and laid a 123-113 pasting on the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

Stephen Curry scored a game-high 35 points, including 20 in the pivotal third quarter, while Kevin Durant fired in 25 points and Klay Thompson tossed in 18.

The Warriors (48-9) finished off a four-game season-series sweep of the Clippers, extending their win overall streak over LA to 10 in a row, dating back to Christmas Day 2014. They’ve won the last 11 games played in Oakland.

Shooting 73.9 percent, the Warriors scored 50 points in the third quarter -- the first 50-point quarter in the NBA since the Lakers scored 51 against the Knicks on March 25, 2014 -- to fuel their comeback. They trailed by as much as 16.

Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford each scored 19 points to lead the Clippers (35-22), whose win streak ended at four.

The game featured several boisterous moments reminiscent of Warriors-Clippers battles of a few years ago. Officials called four technical fouls, three on the Warriors and one on the Clippers.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Though Durant was the triggerman for the comeback, scoring 11 points in an 83-second stretch early in the third quarter, Curry did most of the heavy damage, annihilating the Clippers with his outburst.

Curry’s line: 35 points (10-of-16 shooting from the field, including 6-of-10 from beyond the arc, and 9-of-10 from the line), seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. He played 32 minutes and finished plus-26.

TURNING POINT

After a Rivers 3-pointer gave the Clippers a 66-54 lead with 9:24 left in the third quarter, the Warriors responded by outscoring LA 45-21 over the remainder of the quarter and taking a 99-87 lead.

The Clippers got no closer than 10 in the fourth quarter, during which they trailed by as much as 23.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: C Zaza Pachulia (R rotator cuff strain) and C David West (L thumb fracture) were listed as questionable and upgraded to available prior to tipoff. C Damian Jones and F Kevon Looney were healthy inactives.

Clippers: G Chris Paul (L thumb ligament tear) and C Diamond Stone (L knee bone bruise) were listed as out.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors return to action Saturday night, when they face the Brooklyn Nets at Oracle Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:35.

Instant Replay: Kings beat Nuggets behind career-night for Cauley-Stein

Instant Replay: Kings beat Nuggets behind career-night for Cauley-Stein

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- The new look Sacramento Kings might not be done just yet. Despite trading away All-Star DeMarcus Cousins over the weekend, the young and energetic Kings moved to within a half game of the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff chase with a 116-100 drubbing of the Denver Nuggets.

Willie Cauley-Stein is ready for prime time. With plenty of extra opportunities to work with, the 7-footer went off for a career night, dropping in a career-high 29 points while grabbing 10 rebounds.  

Welcome to Sacramento Buddy Hield -- the centerpiece to the trade that sent Cousins to the Pelicans put on a show for his new fanbase. The rookie out of Oklahoma dropped in 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in the win.

Seldom-used rookie Skal Labissiere looked aggressive early, scoring eight of his career-high 12 points during the first half. He added three rebounds and two assists off the bench.

Darren Collison set up the youngsters, finishing the night with 10 assists and 12 points. Ben McLemore was overmatched at the small forward spot, but still managed to go for 10 points on 2-for-3 shooting from long range.

Tyreke Evans added 15 points in his first game back in a Kings uniform in nearly four years, while Kosta Koufos chipped in eight points and six rebounds.

Gary Harris got it going from the perimeter, dropping in 23 points on 5-of-11 from deep.

Sacramento played small ball and Danilo Gallinari made them pay. In his first game after an eight game absence, the Italian-born forward scored 15 points and handed out six rebounds.

Wilson Chandler added 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Jameer Nelson finished with 12 points and six assists and Will Barton tossed in 16 off the Denver bench.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Cauley-Stein put on an aerial assault with highlight reel dunks and pretty jumpers from the perimeter. The second-year big said he was ready to take off Tuesday when he spoke to media members, but no one saw this coming.

TURNING POINT

The Kings punched first and never stop hitting the Nuggets. Denver looked stunned as the Kings’ young players put on a show.

INJURY UPDATE

Arron Afflalo, Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson are all out with varying degrees of hamstring issues. Afflalo sat with hamstring stiffness and is day-to-day. Temple is out for another few games with a left hamstring tear and rookie Richardson is out 4-6 weeks with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the season with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Kings return to the court next Saturday for a mid-day matinee -- Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets drop by Golden 1 Center for a 2 pm start.