The Athletics, Tigers and Nationals all clinched playoff berths Monday night, leaving only one of baseball’s 10 postseason berths up for grabs with two games left in the regular season.
Coco Crisp had a go-ahead double in the fifth inning of the A’s 4-3 win over the Rangers. Oakland is one game behind Texas in the AL West and moved into a tie with Baltimore for the American League’s top wild card.
The Tigers, paced by MVP front-runner Miguel Cabrera, beat the Kansas City Royals 6-3 to clinch back-to-back division titles for the first time since the 1934-35 seasons.
Despite being beaten 2-0 by the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night, the Nationals earned their first division title since moving from Montreal in 2005, because the second-place Atlanta Braves lost 2-1 at the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Yankees beat Boston 10-2 to take a one-game lead in the AL East over the Orioles, who lost 5-3 at Tampa Bay. New York and Baltimore had already clinched postseason berths.
In the National League, all five spots have been taken and all three division races are over. Washington (NL East champion), Cincinnati (NL Central champion), San Francisco (NL West champion) and Atlanta (wild card) are in. St. Louis is one win or a Dodgers loss from earning the other wild card.
INDIANAPOLIS — Colts coach Chuck Pagano has been diagnosed with leukemia and is expected to be hospitalized six to eight weeks as he undergoes treatment.
He will be replaced on an interim basis by offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
Team owner Jim Irsay made the announcement Monday during a somber and sometimes emotional news conference at the team complex.
“I think it’s unlikely he’ll be all in as the head coach the rest of this season,” Irsay said. “He may be able to come back and be in the press box or something.”
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets owner Woody Johnson says, if asked to choose, that Mitt Romney winning the presidential election in November is a bigger priority than his NFL team having a winning season.
Johnson, wearing a Jets green tie, tells Bloomberg on that “I think you always have to put country first,” when asked what is more important to him. Johnson has publicly backed the Republican presidential candidate, and says in the interview that it’s “very, very important” for Americans and “our kids and grandkids” to have Romney win the election.”
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — No. 1 Alabama has lost wide receiver DeAndrew White and running back Dee Hart for the season.
Coach Nick Saban said Monday that both will have to undergo knee surgery after injuries sustained during the Mississippi game.
White has eight catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns, including a 51-yarder against Michigan in the opener. He was hurt on the Crimson Tide’s first drive.
Hart was injured after fielding a fourth-quarter punt.
COLUMBUS— Coach Urban Meyer says he believes Ohio State has sent a tape to the Big Ten office which appears to show a Michigan State player gouging at the eyes of Buckeyes defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins.
The short clip appears to show the Spartans’ Jack Allen or a teammate trying to thrust a gloved hand inside Hankins’ facemask. At the same time, Hankins is trying to get his fingers inside Allen’s facemask.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Dwight Howard says he’s ready to learn about winning from Kobe Bryant.
And Bryant certainly sounds eager to teach his new center all about basketball and life with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Howard and Bryant wore their gold uniforms together as the Lakers opened training camp with a revamped roster and sky-high expectations.
NEWARK, N.J. — Authorities say New Orleans Hornets executive Joshua Richardson has been charged with criminal possession of a weapon after a handgun was found in his checked baggage at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport.
The Transportation Security Administration says Richardson, the team’s vice president of event presentation and broadcasting, was headed back to Louisiana on Friday when agents found the gun in his bag. It’s unclear if the gun was loaded.
MIAMI — So far this season, Miami Heat players have gotten new workout gear and new luggage.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has given his team two other gifts: Afternoons off.
Dreaded two-a-day practice sessions have been nonexistent so far in Heat camp, with Spoelstra canceling planned double-sessions Sunday and Monday. He says the Heat are getting enough work done in one session, so there’s no need to further tax bodies so early in camp.
CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls gave coach Tom Thibodeau a four-year contract extension through the 2016-17 season.
PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers picked up the 2013-14 option on coach Doug Collins’ contract.
WESTWEGO, La. — Former Duke and current New Orleans Hornets player Lance Thomas said he does not think he violated NCAA rules when he purchased nearly $100,000 in diamond jewelry during his college career.
Thomas also indicated a willingness to speak with the NCAA about the purchase, which spawned a lawsuit by a New York jeweler and an inquiry by Duke and the NCAA of whether Thomas violated rules pertaining to improper benefits for college athletes.
TORONTO — Wayne Gretzky thinks the league’s lockout will end before the showcase Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I believe in my heart, maybe because I’m such a big hockey fan, that they will be playing by Jan. 1,” Gretzky said during a question and answer period at a panel discussion on personal finance.
Detroit and Toronto are scheduled to play outdoors at Michigan Stadium to kick off the new year.
NHL labor talks will resume Tuesday morning, with both sides still focusing on secondary matters and not the core economic issues that continue to divide owners and players in a league-imposed lockout entering its third week.
BEIJING — Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka and No. 2 Maria Sharapova advanced to the second round of the China Open on Monday.
Azarenka routed Alize Cornet of France 6-1, 6-0, while Sharapova had a harder time knocking off Simona Halep of Romania 7-5, 7-5.
IN THE COURTS
COLUMBUS — Former Ohio State football star Jim Stillwagon is suspected of shooting at a pickup truck on a highway ramp and later striking the driver with a handgun, causing it to fire a bullet that grazed the man’s head, after a road rage incident that spanned about 14 miles, police said.
The college Hall of Famer, a middle guard who helped the Buckeyes to a national championship in 1968, was jailed on a felonious assault charge and had bond set at $350,000 in municipal court in Delaware, north of Columbus.