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Rangers Clinch Tie For Playoff Spot

September 27, 1996

The Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles are on the verge of reaching the AL playoffs.

The Rangers beat the California Angels 6-5 Thursday night to clinch at least a tie for a postseason berth, while the Orioles closed in on the wild card by downing the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1.

Texas can win its first division title with a victory in any of its final three games _ or if second-place Seattle loses any of its four remaining games. The Rangers have a 3 1/2-game lead in the AL West over the Mariners, who lost 7-5 at Oakland on Thursday.

``This is what we’ve been waiting for,″ Texas reliever Mike Henneman said. ``This is what we’ve been wanting. This is what we’ve been working for. And we’re ready to do it.″

Baltimore can clinch the wild card with two more victories, or one more win and one Seattle loss. The Orioles have three games left at Toronto, while the Mariners have three games remaining against Oakland, plus a game at Cleveland on Monday if Seattle is still in playoff contention.

``We don’t want to bank on anything before we accomplish it,″ said Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson, who hit his 48th homer Thursday night. ``We haven’t clinched yet, so you won’t see any celebrating.″

Boston was eliminated from the wild-card race despite its 5-3 win over New York. The Red Sox trail the Orioles by four games with three remaining.

``Our guys fought as hard as they could,″ said Boston manager Kennedy, whose team got off to a 6-19 start this season. ``Our time will come. We will be there again.″

The idle Chicago White Sox still have a very slim shot at the playoffs. For the White Sox to tie for the wild card, they must win their last three games at Minnesota, the Orioles must lose their last three, and the Mariners must lose at least one of their remaining games.

Rangers 6, Angels 5

At Arlington, Texas took advantage of shoddy California fielding to edge the Angels. Trailing 3-0, the Rangers scored four runs in the third inning with the help of two errors. Another error by the Angels in the fourth gave Texas a 5-3 lead. Mike Henneman finished for his 31st save, getting Gary DiSarcina on a liner to left with runners at first and second. John Burkett (5-2) got the win despite allowing five runs in 7 2-3 innings.

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 1

At Toronto, Cal Ripken hit a three-run homer and rookie Rocky Coppinger (10-6) took a three-hit shutout into the ninth before giving up a run. Coppinger allowed five hits and improved to 4-0 against the Blue Jays this season. Jesse Orosco and Armando Benitez finished up, with Benitez getting his fourth save.

Red Sox 5, Yankees 3

At Boston, the Red Sox rocked Jimmy Key for four runs in the first inning and beat the Yankees, who rested many of their regulars a day after clinching the AL East. Key (12-11) gave up RBI singles to Jose Canseco and Bill Haselman, and a two-run single to rookie Rudy Pemberton in the first. Mariano Duncan, who leads the Yankees with a .340 average, was hit on the left wrist by a foul ball and went to a hospital for X-rays. The results weren’t available late Thursday night.

Athletics 7, Mariners 5

At Oakland, the Athletics rallied to win with four runs in the eighth inning. After scoring three runs in the top of the eighth to take a 5-3 lead, the Mariners gave the lead right back. Three of the runs came off closer Norm Charlton (4-7), who forced in a run by walking Mike Bordick with the bases loaded and gave up a two-run single to Tony Batista. Oakland’s Terry Steinbach hit an inside-the-park homer, making the A’s the third team this season to top the old major league record of 240 homers in a season.

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