The Cleveland Indians improbable ride to the MLB postseason is complete. The Indians beat the Twins 5-1 thanks to 6.2 inning of one-run baseball pitched by Ubaldo Jiminez, and two hits apiece from each of the top three hitters in the order in Michael Brantley, Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis. The game opened with a Brantley single and Swisher home run, loosened everyone up and Cleveland coasts in to the playoffs on a 10-game winning streak.
Only nine of the ten spots in the playoffs are filled, and it’s because Texas and Tampa Bay still have to settle the final AL wild-card spot. Both teams won yesterday to force a one-game tiebreaker tonight.
The Rays made their lives as interesting as possible–they scored six runs in the top of the first at Toronto, let the Blue Jays crawl back in it, saw Joe Maddon get ejected in the seventh and finally held on to win 7-6.
Texas beat the LA Angels 6-2 behind Yu Darvish and two-hit/one-home run games from Adrian Beltre and Geovany Soto. The disgrace that is the 2013 Los Angeles Angels ended with them being unable to win a single game in a final four-game set in Arlington. Give the Rangers their credit, but if a team with the Angels’ talent rolls over like the Astros in a series like this, it’s a testimony to the deep dysfunction within a once-proud organization.
THREE NIGHTS OF DRAMA AHEAD
The next three nights will feature one-and-done baseball, leading into the beginning of Division Series play on Thursday night. It starts with Texas-Tampa Bay down
in the Trop (my mistake–the game is in Arlington) tonight, as Martin Perez takes the mound to face David Price.
These teams met in the playoffs in both 2010 and 2011, with Texas winning Division Series matchups both times. The game in ’10 saw Price lose a decisive Game 5 at home to Cliff Lee. The proud lefty and Cy Young winner from last season surely doesn’t want a second elimination loss on his home field.
Then it’s the “official” playoff games. The National League wild-card game is Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, and the pitching matchup is Johnny Cueto and Francisco Liriano. The Reds had initially slated Cueto to pitch Sunday’s finale. Not only did that end up meaningless in determining homefield advantage–though losing it meant the Reds finished just Under their Over/Under win prop from the preseason–but the planned wild-card starter in Mat Latos was scratched with an injury.
On Wednesday, Cleveland hosts the winner of Texas-Tampa Bay. The Indians likely starter would be Cory Kluber, who pitched on Friday. It would be an interesting decision for Joe Maddon, who will have used Price tonight and Matt Moore on Sunday. Wednesday’s would be the biggest survival test Tampa would face. If it’s Texas paying a visit to the Rustbelt, Ron Washington can choose from Alexi Ogando or Matt Garza.
All three games begin at 8 PM ET and are on TBS. It means not only do we have a great three days awaiting us, but Monday’s daily sports menu looks pretty enticing itself. You’ve got a one-game baseball showdown on one channel, and a pair of 3-0 teams in the NFL on Monday Night Football, as the Dolphins and Saints kick off at 8:30 PM ET on ESPN.