before the Yankees' 5-4, 11-inning win over Baltimore.
Meanwhile, in the hotly-contested race deciding the AL West, Anaheim rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth for a 5-4 win over the A's in a crucial four-game series.
The Devil Rays needed all the good news they could get. And they accomplished a franchise first by executing a triple play in a 5-2 loss at Toronto.
The Red Sox weren't going to reach the playoffs, but the season still had significance for Derek Lowe, who collected his 20th win in a 6-4 victory over Baltimore. Lowe also had a 40-save season in 1999.
It had been 11 years since baseball fans had a reason to be excited in Minnesota, but on this day, memories of the past 10 trying seasons dissipated. The Twins, despite a tight budget, clinched the American League Central with a 5-0 win over the Cleveland Indians. Kyle Lohse pitched six scoreless innings.
As the season wound down and the division races were settled, there was one still very much alive. Anaheim and Oakland were tussling in the AL West and this night, the A's forged ahead thanks to Miguel Tejada, who singled home the winning run in the ninth inning for the 4-3 victory.
What was a normal game between two teams headed nowhere turned into a bizarre and sad scene when two White Sox fans jumped onto the Comiskey Park field and attacked Royals first-base coach Tom Gamboa. Gamboa was OK and the two assailants were arrested, but the incident resurrected the issue of player and coach safety on the field.
Meanwhile, on the field, the Rangers' Alex Rodriguez belted his 56th homer of the season, sending his old club, the Seattle Mariners, to the brink of playoff elimination.
Very rarely in baseball does the workmanlike veteran get the credit he deserves, but on this night he did. Mike Bordick set a Major League record for shortstops with his 102nd consecutive errorless game in a 4-2 Baltimore loss to Boston.
The A's continued their success despite payroll challenges, beating Texas 4-2 to clinch their third consecutive playoff appearance. Jermaine Dye knocked in the go-ahead run.
Once a starter with a mediocre record, Eric Gagne improved his velocity, sported goggles and fired away as the Dodgers closer. He collected save No. 50 on this night with a scoreless ninth in a 5-3 win over the San Diego Padres.
Fred McGriff has played with several different teams but he has maintained his consistency and power. That was no more evident than when he belted his 30th homer in the Cubs' 5-4 loss to the Pirates. McGriff became the first Major Leaguer to hit at least 30 homers with five different teams.
Also, it was an emotional day in Cincinnati. The Reds were swept by the Phillies to close out Cinergy Field (formerly Riverfront Stadium).
The playoffs were 10 days away but perhaps the fate of one team was cemented because of a simple shallow fly ball. Arizona left fielder Luis Gonzalez crashed into teammate Tony Womack during a 13-1 loss to St. Louis and was lost for the season with a separated shoulder. The Diamondbacks were swept by the Cardinals in three games in the NLDS.
Andruw Jones has long been admired for his defensive prowess but his power is quickly catching up. He belted three homers in a game for the first time in his career, in a 7-1 win over the Phillies.
The Anaheim Angels suffered through 16 years of shabby teams, late-blown division leads and ineptitude before this night. The Angels capped their amazing season with a 10-5 win over Texas to clinch their first playoff spot since 1986. Garret Anderson highlighted the game with his 29th homer.
While Derek Lowe made his splash this season as a closer converted into a starter, John Smoltz did the exact opposite. The former Cy Young winner and one of the top pitchers in the 1990s broke a National League record for dominance by a closer. He collected his 54th save in a 3-1 win over the Mets.
Meanwhile, in what would be one of his final highlights as an Indian, Jim Thome broke the team record for homers with his 51st in an 8-3 win over Kansas City.
The Giants always seem to be in the playoff race but this season it appeared they would be edged by the hot Dodgers. But a blazing September carried the Giants to another postseason berth and win No. 94 put them over the top.
An era came to an end today that has lasted more than many lifetimes. In a normal season finale between non-playoff teams, Detroit and Toronto, Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell graced the microphone for the final time, ending 55 years in the booth.
Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.