D-backs, Brewers and Rangers clinch on same night

By Ben Walker/The Associated Press

Elvis Andrus took a home run trot at Rangers Ballpark, cheering a ball that landed 1,400 miles away. Prince Fielder enjoyed a victory lap at Miller Park, hugging fans along the way. Kirk Gibson pumped his fist at Chase Field, celebrating while the crowd chanted his name.

All over baseball, it was one big wrap party.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers each clinched Friday night — only once before, on Oct. 5, 1985, had three division spots been decided on the same day, STATS LLC said.

All six divisions already locked up, still five days left in the regular season. Not since 1986, when there were only four divisions, had they all been sealed so early, STATS found.

“This kind of stuff never gets old,” a goggles-wearing Michael Young said, spraying bubbly in the middle of the Texas clubhouse. “We know we’re in.”

The wild-card races got a little less wild, too, with Atlanta and Boston expanding their edges.

The New York Yankees, Philadelphia and Detroit previously clinched their divisions. So with a bunch of games remaining on the schedule, what’s left to watch? Plenty.

Not a single playoff matchup is set yet. They may not be until the final out Wednesday night, either. Even if the Red Sox hold their 2½-game edge and the Braves maintain their three-game lead, it may take tiebreakers — records in head-to-head meetings, that is — until fans find out the first-round pairings.

The Diamondbacks completed baseball’s most dramatic turnaround, going from 65-97 last year to winning their first NL West crown since 2007. They did it in Gibson’s first full season as manager.

“I don’t care if it’s your first year or your 10th year, it’s what you set out to do,” Gibson said.

Gibson, who helped the Tigers and Dodgers win World Series championships, saw his Diamondbacks earn their spot when rookie Paul Goldschmidt lined a two-run triple in the eighth inning to beat San Francisco 3-1.

Later, some of the Diamondbacks went for a celebratory dip in the pool behind the wall in right-center field.

The loss dropped the defending World Series champion Giants five games behind Atlanta.

“We are breathing. Five games left, we are still breathing,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “That is why there is no need to talk. We’ve still got baseball.”

Milwaukee and Texas both had to stick around to let loose.

The Brewers beat Florida 4-1 at home, then waited about a half-hour until second-place St. Louis lost to Chicago 5-1 to officially take the NL Central. It was Milwaukee’s first title since it won the AL East back in 1982.

Ryan Braun and Fielder homered in the win. Fielder, who previously said this probably will be his last season in Milwaukee before leaving as a free agent, took his victory lap nearly an hour after the Cubs’ victory. He hugged several of the nearly 5,000 fans that stayed to party.

“I’m just glad we’re able to do it, we’ve got a little ways to go, but I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this,” he said. “Hopefully, we go all the way.”

It was a similar scene in Texas. The Rangers beat Seattle 5-3, and clinched their second straight AL West title about two hours later when the Los Angeles Angels lost to Oakland 3-1.

When David DeJesus hit a solo homer for Oakland in the top of the ninth, fans at Rangers Ballpark erupted in cheers. Andrus then took a home run trot, and the Texas shortstop slid into home surrounded by many of his teammates.

Beaten by San Francisco in five games in the World Series last year, Texas is ready to try again.

“We knew what we had to do because we’ve been through it before,” manager Ron Washington said. “Now we’re back and we get another opportunity.”