The Cleveland Indians closed to the threshold of the postseason, the Tampa Bay Rays are flirting with a collapse and baseball fans everywhere still have the dream of a three-way tie on the table as the regular season hits its final day. Here’s how Saturday went down…
Toronto 7 Tampa Bay 2: Chris Archer didn’t make it past the third inning, and the Rays bullpen fell apart in the middle innings. Toronto has now won a series against the Yankees when New York was still very much alive, and they’ve now taken a series from Tampa and dropped the Rays into a tie for the final playoff berth. The Blue Jays have already spoiler and their biggest damage could come today.
Texas 7 LA Angels 4: It was a team effort, as every player in the Texas lineup got a hit, and they scored four runs in the second, overcoming a subpar outing from Derek Holland. The Rangers now control their own destiny, as they pull even with Tampa.
Cleveland 5 Minnesota 1: Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer in the fourth, Michael Bourn drilled a two-run double in the fifth and the revival of Steve Kazmir continued with six sharp innings. The Indians are a game up on both rivals, and clinch both the playoffs and the right to host the AL wild-card game on Wednesday night.
THE CRACKUP SCENARIO
So what if all three teams end up tied? A bracket would be created where Cleveland-Tampa would play on Monday, and then the loser would play Texas on Tuesday. That’s right, the loser would play Texas. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a knockout race to determine which teams wins, but a three-person game of musical chairs to see who gets left standing when the music stops. Texas fares the poorest in the tiebreakers, so they get the “bye” in the bracket and only have one opportunity to play their way in, while Cleveland and Tampa Bay have two.
Thus, the Indians have three straight chances to clinch. With Ubaldo Jiminez on the mound today in Minnesota, you have to think they’ll do it. But who doesn’t want to see a crazy three-team tournament, with the tiebreakers of Monday and Tuesday, and then the official AL wild-card game itself on Wednesday?
Tampa Bay will send Matt Moore to the mound today and Texas sends Yu Darvish, as both play games that could see them either clinch, be eliminated or have their fate delayed until tomorrow.
The Pirates-Reds game is on TBS today. This game means absolutely nothing, now that Pittsburgh has officially clinched homefield advantage. The Reds junked their plans to have Johnny Cueto pitch today and instead save him for Tuesday in the Steel City, where it looks like he’ll face Francisco Liriano.
With no American League wild-card action on national television, there’s no reason not to tune into the NFL. In the 1 PM ET time slot, CBS will show most of the country the Steelers-Vikings game from London. Fox’s coverage is split up into various regional segments. Then Fox takes over in the 4:25 PM ET slot, with the Eagles-Broncos game, under the eye of the Joe Buck-Troy Aikman broadcast team.
Then the daily sports agenda closes with a good Sunday night game, as New England visits Atlanta (8:30 PM ET, NBC). TheSportsNotebook’s NFL analysis previewed this game, along with Philly-Denver and tomorrow’s Miami-New Orleans game as part of a look at the national TV games of Week 4. Then a separate post examined the remaining games on the undercard.