© St. Petersburg Times, published September 30, 2002
BALTIMORE -- The New York Yankees got what they wanted: homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and a coveted day off.
New York's Alfonso Soriano didn't reach his goal, but he was relieved to put his quest for 40 homers behind him.
And the Orioles? They finally get to go home.
New York clinched homefield advantage, using home runs by Rondell White and Jason Giambi to beat Baltimore 6-1 Sunday.
Soriano went 0-for-5 and finished with 39 home runs. He was bidding to join Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco and Alex Rodriguez as the only players to have 40 homers and 40 steals in a season.
He struck out on three pitches against Jorge Julio on his final chance in the ninth.
"It's gone. My mind now is clear and ready for the playoffs," he said. "Now I don't have to think about 40-40 all the time. I'm more relaxed now."
Soriano did, however, set the franchise record for at-bats in a season (696), breaking the mark of 692 set by Bobby Richardson in 1962. He also led the league in hits (209), steals (41) and runs (128).
"I'm happy that I had an unbelievable year," he said. "Everybody says congratulations for the year I have."
The Yankees' fifth straight victory put them at 103-58, their best record since 1998. New York won the tiebreaker with the A's by winning the season series 5-4.
"It's a big relief to not have to sit and wonder what Oakland is doing," winning pitcher Mike Mussina said.
A'S 8, RANGERS 7: Barry Zito got his league-leading 23rd win and Jermaine Dye hit his fourth career grand slam as for visiting Oakland.
Eric Chavez, 8-for-51 (.157) in his past 13 games, hit a run-scoring single in the first and added a run-scoring double in the third that broke a tie at 1 and put the A's ahead to stay.
Zito had the most wins for an AL left-hander since the Twins' Frank Viola had 24 in 1988. Zito's 2.75 ERA is best for an Oakland starter in 13 seasons.
TWINS 3, WHITE SOX 1: Bobby Kielty gave host Minnesota an eighth-inning lead with a two-run homer for the second time in as many days.
Manager Ron Gardenhire prefers to use Kielty, a switch-hitter who can play all three outfield positions, off the bench. That's where he'll be when the Twins begin the playoffs Tuesday at West champion Oakland.
"He gives us that little extra off the bench," Gardenhire said. "That's not to say I wouldn't (start him). We'll try anything to win."
ANGELS 7, MARINERS 6: Troy Glaus hit a grand slam in the first and Aaron Sele came off the disabled list and got the win for host Anaheim.
Having concluded a franchise-best 99-win regular season, the wild-card Angels open the playoffs Tuesday night against New York at Yankee Stadium.
Seattle, which won a league-record 116 games and the West title last season, finished this one with 93 victories, third in the division behind Oakland and Anaheim.
INDIANS 7, ROYALS 3: Jim Thome singled home the go-ahead run in his last at-bat this season to lead host Cleveland. Travis Fryman hit a two-run double in the seventh, the final career at-bat for the five-time All-Star, who is retiring.
BLUE JAYS 1, TIGERS 0: Roy Halladay gave up two hits over eight as host Toronto finished with a season-high seven-game winning streak.