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Rangers Clinch AL West, Defeat Mariners 5-3

For the second consecutive year, the Texas Rangers are going to be playing in the postseason. The Rangers clinched the AL West on Friday night with a 5-3 win over the Mariners, coupled with Los Angeles' 3-1 loss to the Oakland A's.

Texas jumped out to a 5-0 lead -- thanks to home runs. Adrian Beltre belted a two run homer in the second, followed by Josh Hamilton's 452 ft. solo homer in the third to put Texas up 3-0. Craig Gentry added an inside-the-park homer, scoring Nelson Cruz in the process, to put Texas up 5-0.

Matt Harrison, credited with the win, gave up three runs in six innings, with all three runs being scored in the sixth inning. Harrison allowed three runs on three hits and two walks while striking out just one Mariner. 

Texas' bullpen preserved the lead, with Jon Daniels' acquisitions at the deadline both coming in relief in Texas' clincher. Darren Oliver notched the first two outs of the seventh, before Koji Uehara came in for the final out of the inning. Mike Adams pitched the eighth, giving up just one hit. Neftali Feliz recorded his 30th save of the season, walking one and striking out one in the ninth.

The Rangers, though, couldn't celebrate their AL West title just yet. The division wasn't clinched until the Angels lost to the A's. Jered Weaver, Los Angeles' ace, took the hard-luck loss, pitching 8 and 1/3 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) while striking out eight. Mike Scioscia's team simply couldn't muster up any offense in support of Weaver, and consequently, were eliminated from AL West contention. 

Who the Rangers play in the ALDS is still a mystery, as the Wild Card picture remains murky, though, with losses by Tampa Bay and Los Angeles on Friday, it's looking increasingly likely that the wild card will be Boston. If so, the Yankees would host either the Rangers or the Tigers -- whoever ends up as the No. 3 seed. 

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.