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Big League Stew

The Juice: Athletics clinch playoffs, Cardinals do not (yet)

David Brown
Big League Stew

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(AP)

The Juice is back for its fifth season of fun! Stop by each weekday for an ample serving of news from the action, plus great photos, stats and video highlights.

Moneyballin': The Oakland Athletics still have their sights set on the Texas Rangers and first place in the AL West. But for a team that almost everybody picked to be bad, they at least know they're in the playoffs for a game. And that's pretty sweet. Coco Crisp hit a go-ahead double in the fifth inning, and the A's beat the Rangers 4-3 on Monday night to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Watch the last out:

Crisp is 9 for 17 with seven runs scored, three doubles and three stolen bases since coming back from pink eye in both eyes. Oakland's victory also knocked out the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels. With two games to play, the A's trail the Rangers by one game for the division title, which would offer the security of the ALDS.

Birds are prey: The entire playoff field is set except for the second NL wild-card spot, which the Cardinals can clinch with one more victory or a Dodgers defeat. St. Louis did its work, beating the Reds 4-2 behind left-hander Jaime Garcia to clinch a tie for the wild-card spot. Garcia allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings and he hit a home run against Bronson Arroyo. The Dodgers kept pace thanks to a 3-2 win against the Giants. Elian Herrera provided a game-ending single with the bases loaded in the ninth to key their sixth straight victory. They'll need a lot more help in the next two days in order to join the playoff field.

Triple dog dare: The biggest threat to Miguel Cabrera winning the Triple Crown might be his main competition for MVP, Mike Trout. He went 4 for 5 and raised his batting average to .325, four points short of Cabrera, in an 8-4 victory at Seattle. But the performance was not enough to keep the Angels from being eliminated from the playoff race. After spending big bucks to bring in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the Angels got off to a miserable start — 8-15, and were nine games out of first place in May. Trout came up in late April and sparked the team with perhaps the best rookie performance ever, but only occasionally did the Angels collectively get it done.

Yankee foxtrot Baltimore: The Yankees pulled ahead in the AL East by a game, routing the Red Sox 10-2 and watching as the Orioles fell 5-3 to the Rays. New York powered ahead with a nine-run second inning, and CC Sabathia did his thing on the mound to help New York keep pushing for what would be their 13th division title in 17 years. At Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay won for the 11th time in 12 games, outscoring their opponents 80-31 in that span. Joe Maddon's boys would be the hottest team going into the playoffs, had they made them. But overall, the Rays were overcome by semi-miraculous and wonderful seasons to remember by the Orioles and A's.

[MLB Full Count: Watch live look-ins and highlights for free all season long]

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Quote of the Day:

"Our expectations are higher than even the fans, media, anyone. We're disappointed.'' — Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who talked to his team for 20 minutes after they were eliminated.

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Photo of the Day: Tasty California waves

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(AP)

Elian Herrera gets moistened by Luis Cruz because why not?

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Three Facts for the Water Cooler

• The White Sox won for just the third time in 13 games, clobbering the Indians 11-0, but were eliminated from the AL Central race.

• The Washington Nationals wrapped up the first playoff appearance for a D.C. team in 79 years, despite falling 2-0 to the Phillies.

• Two-hit by Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell, the Cubs reached 100 losses for the first time since 1966. Hey, that's probably longer than you thought it took them.

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