(CBS New York) – After a wild last week and the last day of the season, the MLB playoff image is finally determined. Here are the games before the playoffs:
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Wild Card: New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox – Tuesday, October 5, 8:08 p.m. ET
Division Series: Chicago White Sox @ Houston Astros – starts Thursday, October 7
Division Series: Yankees / Red Sox @ Tampa Bay Rays – starts Thursday, October 7
Wild Card: St. Louis Cardinals @ Los Angeles Dodgers – Wednesday, October 6, 8:10 p.m. ET
Division Series: Atlanta Braves @ Milwaukee Brewers – starts Friday, October 8
Division Series: Cardinals / Dodgers @ San Francisco Giants – starts Friday, October 8
In the game of jokers, the winner goes on to the division round, while the loser returns home. Each season ALDS will be the best of five games. This week’s Baseball Report looks at the image of the American League and National League playoffs ahead of wildcard games.
AL playoff photo
The AL wild card race ended until the last game of the season, with four teams vying for two wild card spots. The Yankees led most of last week with a game or two ahead of the Red Sox. But on Sunday, the two teams were tied at 91-70, with the Blue Jays and Mariners each having a return game.
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The Yankees had already lost the first two games of a series with the Tampa Bay Rays, who had long since clinched AL East. Another loss to the division winners could result in a potential match 163. Sunday’s game went scoreless until the ninth inning. Aaron Judge hit a single with an out at the end of the inning to bring in the winning run. It was the slugger’s first hit in the majors.
The Red Sox needed a win from behind to secure their place in the wild card. For much of Sunday, it looked like Boston would also need a 163rd Game to have a playoff chance. But they rallied 5-1 to beat the Washington Nationals 7-5 to earn a playoff berth. They owe much to the big stick of third baseman Rafael Devers. He netted four of Boston’s seven points in the afternoon, including a two-run homerun to give them the advantage.
The Blue Jays also kept pace, with a 12-4 victory over the hapless Baltimore Orioles. George Springer started the game with a home run and Toronto has never looked back. Springer would also hit a grand slam later in the game. The Blue Jays needed the Yankees or Red Sox to lose to force a play-in game, but that didn’t happen. The Seattle Mariners, who lost on Sunday, will also miss the playoffs, extending their playoff drought to 20 years.
The Yankees and Red Sox play Tuesday night in Boston for the privilege of facing the Rays in the ALDS. The Rays led the AL East for the last two months of the season and weren’t really challenged in September. They are the only American League team to achieve 100 wins.
The other ALDS series pits the Chicago White Sox against the Houston Astros. The White Sox also led the AL Central subclass for months. They ended the season winning six of their last seven games, but lost their season finale to the Detroit Tigers. The White Sox will travel to Houston to face the Astros. A division title already in hand, Houston stood up to the Oakland A in the last game of the season to finish with a 95-67 record. Their divisional series with the White Sox kicks off Thursday night.
NL playoff photo
The NL playoff race had its own excitement, as the top two baseball teams (by record) battled for the divisional title in the West. The Giants were the biggest surprise of the season, and they finished with the best MLB record. Most pundits limped them in third place, as the San Diego Dodgers and Padres battled in September. Many thought they wouldn’t go over 80 wins and certainly wouldn’t sniff the playoffs. Instead, San Francisco held the best baseball record for 125 days and was the first MLB team to land a playoff berth.
It took until the last day of the regular season to clinch the division. The Giants won a franchise-record 107th game on Sunday against a shocked San Diego club. Buster Posey’s 11-4 win, helped by three RBIs and two singles, including the 1,500th of his career, was their eighth win in the previous 10 games.
The Dodgers were chasing their ninth straight division title. But now they are forced to play with the St. Louis Cardinals. The most victorious team in MLB history toured the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday. Their 10-4 victory included Trea Turner’s second grand slam in three days. Turner earned the NL batting title and is a good candidate for the NL MVP.
The Cardinals are perhaps the most prominent team in baseball right now. They beat the Brewers in six of seven games over the final two weeks of the season, but couldn’t catch them in the division run. Losing two of the last three regular season games against the Chicago Cubs hasn’t helped. Their 90-72 record only earns them a trip to Los Angeles for a chance at an NLDS series with the Giants.
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The other NLDS series will feature the Atlanta Brewers and Braves. The Brewers closed the season 95-67 after being swept away by the Dodgers. The Braves shut out the New York Mets in the series rubber game to improve to 88-73. Their NLDS series begins Friday in Milwaukee.