It took 163 games, but with the Rays 5-2 win over the Rangers the 8 playoff teams have finally been decided.
It was a wild week in Major League Baseball as the regular season concluded and the playoffs took shape. The postseason starts tonight with the National League wild card game as Central Division rivals Cincinnati and Pittsburgh face off in Pittsburgh in a one game play in to advance to the division series against the Central Division champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Technically tonight is the first playoff game, but last night was the 163rd game for the Rays and Rangers, who were playing a de facto 1-game playoff to decide who would get the second wild card spot and the right to play in the “real” one game AL Wildcard play in game. Got that? It was an exciting game with stellar defensive plays and a complete game by Ray starter David Price. The Rays scored first and never looked back, winning 5-2 and the trip to Cleveland for the AL wild card game. The Indians won 10 straight to sneak up on everyone and take the top wild card spot. They have been waiting patiently at home and now will host the Rays Wednesday at 8PM for a one game series for the honor of facing the Red Sox who finished with 97 wins and dominated the AL East all season.
The other American League division series starts Friday in Oakland and features the West champion A’s and the Central champ Tigers. Oakland ran away with the AL West when the Rangers went into their September collapse. The Rangers fought back enough to tie Tampa Bay for the second wild card, but were eliminated from the postseason with their loss last night.
In the American League, I like Indians in the wild card game because they have the advantage of extra rest plus the home field advantage. I don’t think they can beat the Red Sox though; Boston will be in the championship series. The Indians won’t get swept, they’ll hang tough, but the Red Sox are too good, the Indians can’t match their depth so the Red Sox will advance. In the other division series, I’m going with Oakland. Miguel Cabrera is playing hurt and could be limited throughout the postseason. The Tigers might win a game, but I’m going A’s.
In the National League I’ll bet a central division team is in the championship series. Just kidding, the Reds and the Pirates play tonight in the wild card game and the winner will take on fellow NL Central team the Cardinals. For the wild card game I’m going Pirates who closed the season with a sweep of the Reds. I think they can come back and upset the Cardinals to make it to the championship series too. They have the 10-8 regular series advantage over the Cards, and I saw Andrew McCutchen beat up on the Mets too many times not to have confidence in Pittsburgh.
The other division series is the Braves and the Dodgers which starts Thursday. Both Atlanta and LA are good teams and I think whoever wins that series will win both the NL championship. Although it pains me as a Met fan, I guess I’m going with the Braves. Their offense is strong enough to challenge the LA pitching and if they can get a lead Craig Kimbrel is a lights out closer.
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