The drama in the MLB playoff race is winding itself down. Detroit became the fifth team to clinch a division title, locking up the AL Central. The wild-card race in the AL has been cut from six teams to three teams in the span of two days.
And the one item of real interest in the National League—who would win the Central—took a huge step to resolution yesterday as St. Louis reduced its magic number to one. Here’s the rundown on everything that took place on Wednesday…
Detroit 1 Minnesota 0: Austin Jackson led the game off with a triple and then scored. It was all Max Scherzer from that point forward, as he threw seven shutout innings, won his 21st game and made it three AL Central titles in a row for the boys from Motown.
Cleveland 7 ChiSox 2: Michael Brantley got three hits and drove in the lead run in the second inning to put Cleveland up 2-1. Brantley was then aboard when Nick Swisher homered in the fifth to open the game up and make it an easy night for Terry Francona. Cleveland holds a one-game lead in the race for the final wild-card spot.
Texas 7 Houston 3: The Rangers scored five in the fourth to keep within a game of the Indians. Leonys Martin hit a bases-clearing double to get the big inning rolling.
Tampa Bay 8 NY Yanks 3: Evan Longoria had three hits, including two home runs, and David DeJesus also homered. The loss officially eliminated the Yankees from the playoff race. Tampa Bay has a two-game lead on Texas to make the postseason and is one up on Cleveland to host the wild-card game.
Seattle 6 Kansas City 0: Hisashi Iwakuma silenced the Kansas City bats and sent the Royals to the sidelines in the playoff race, where they join the Yankees and Orioles on the list of teams knocked out in the last two days.
NY Mets 1 Cincinnati 0: Is Daisuke Matsuzaka ready to restore his career in New York? The one-time Japanese wonder, who won 18 games for the Red Sox in 2008 before injuries derailed him, tossed 7.2 IP of shutout ball. The Reds’ loss officially eliminates them from any shot at the NL Central title and they can now just begin preparing for Tuesday night’s wild-card game.
ChiCubs 4 Pittsburgh 2: Darnell McDonald had three hits and none were bigger than a three-run bomb in the sixth that spelled the difference at Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh still has a faint, faint hope of winning the NL Central, but more damaging is that this loss keeps their lead on Cincinnati at just one game for the right to host Tuesday’s wild-card battle.
It’s probably not a huge deal either way, but having lived in the Steel City for nine years and having spent my share of empty summer nights at PNC Park, I’d love to see that beautiful ballpark hopping on a crisp October evening.
St. Louis 4 Washington 1: Jordan Zimmerman only allowed four hits over seven innings for the Nats, but the opportunistic Cardinal offense made the most of those hits. St. Louis now just needs one win, or one more Pittsburgh loss, to wrap up the NL Central.
THE THURSDAY NIGHT AGENDA
All three American League wild-card contenders are in action, as they circle each other for the two playoff spots. Tampa closes its series in the Bronx, a game that will be the final home game for Mariano Rivera. Cleveland and Texas open four-game series that will finish the year for them, the Indians in Minnesota and the Rangers at home against the Angels. Those two games will be on MLB Network’s split coverage beginning at 7 PM ET.
And of course football returns to the daily sports docket tonight. College football has a big game in the ACC’s Coastal Division, where Virginia Tech travels to Georgia Tech (7:30 PM ET, ESPN), and the NFL Network has 49ers-Rams from St. Louis at 8:25 PM ET.