- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew3 hrs ago
There's no doubt the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco have taken two vastly different roads to reach the 2014 NL wild-card game.
For the Pirates, there are 20 years of futility now firmly placed in the rearview mirror. The satisfaction of a winning season and simply making the postseason in 2013 has given way to desires of winning their first World Series championship since 1979. For the battled-tested Giants, they've been there and done that twice since 2010, but the hunger for a third championship is strong.
The Pirates appeared in the first NL wild card game in 2013, defeating the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 at PNC Park. The Giants, on the other hand, haven't played in a one-game playoff. If Pittsburgh has one edge, as slight as it might be, that one-game experience could be it. That said, this is about the most unpredictable scenario any team can face — just ask the Royals and the A's. No matter the path they've taken, the pressure on each is the same. It's win-or-go-home.Wed, Oct 15:07 PM PDTSan Francisco at PittsburghPreview Game
The NFL has the New England Patriots. The NBA has the San Antonio Spurs. And MLB has the St. Louis Cardinals. They're all organizations that somehow remain one step ahead of the competition, regardless of how much or how quickly the landscape changes, and that doesn't look to be changing any time soon.
On Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals clinched their second straight National League Central crown by way of the Cincinnati Reds defeating Pittsburgh 4-1. The Cardinals also attained victory on Sunday, 1-0 over Arizona, which gives them another 90-win season. The playoff appearance will be their 11th since 2000, which is second only to the New York Yankees.
The Cardinals were in chase mode throughout most of the season after Milwaukee got off to a fast start, but there was always that feeling that St. Louis was going to make a run eventually. Once they did, they never looked back, even with Pittsburgh nipping at their heels.
For the fourth straight season, the American League Central crown resides in the Motor City.
On Sunday, the Detroit Tigers finally turned away the worthy challenge of the Kansas City Royals by defeating the Minnesota Twins, 3-0. Had Detroit lost, they would have been facing a tiebreaker game against Kansas City on Monday.
It was anything but a smooth road for rookie manager Brad Ausmus. The offense was up and down, the bullpen was a disaster waiting to happen, the rotation was stacked following the addition of David Price. but Justin Verlander was shaky and Anibal Sanchez was shelved late. And that doesn't even factor in the Royals, who refused to go away en route to their first playoff berth in 29 years.
It ended up being one of baseball's best races when most expected a runaway, but the Tigers emerged after 162 games. Here's a look at five reasons why Detroit was able to survive and advance.
Got a career season from Victor Martinez
It wasn't the smooth road many anticipated, but the Detroit Tigers continued their dominance in the AL Central, clinching a fourth straight division title with a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Detroit entered Sunday needing a win or a Kansas City Royals loss against the Chicago White Sox to clinch. They decided to handle business on their own, riding a stellar outing from starter David Price and a rare lights out performance from their bullpen past the finish line.
It was the type of clutch performance Tigers' general manager Dave Dombrowski had in mind when he acquired Price from the Tampa Bay Rays at the trade deadline. Though he probably didn't anticipate needing one in September just to set a clearer path to October. Price pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits while striking out eight. That gave him the MLB strikeout crown with 271.
Derek Jeter's historic and Hall of Fame worthy career is officially over. The New York Yankees captain exited Sunday's game against the Boston Red Sox in the third inning following an RBI single, which scored Ichiro and gave New York a 3-0 lead.
Jeter, who reportedly tweaked a hamstring in Saturday's game while beating out an infield hit, had to hustle up the line on a high chopper to third base. He seemed to be running well and ended up beating it without a throw, but manager Joe Girardi immediately gestured to Jeter, asking if that was it. Jeter gave the affirmative, and Brian McCann became the answer to a trivia question as he was summoned to pinch-run for Jeter in his final game.
Jeter will finish his career with 3,465 career hits, which ranks first in Yankees history and sixth on the all-time hits list. The RBI was No. 1,311, which ranks sixth in Yankees history. And his career batting average will forever read a remarkable .309.
Being the fan of a team headed nowhere can be awfully frustrating this time of year. Especially when you look around and see the excitement in places like Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Seattle. Still, there are few better places to go than the ballpark, and even if the home team's product isn't up to standard, fans can always find ways to amuse and entertain themselves within the ballpark experience.
For example, take the legendary fans in Philadelphia. Over the years they have built a reputation on finding creative ways to amuse themselves, often at the expense of opposing players. On Saturday night, a group of fans seated behind home plate were in especially rare, but hilarious form during the ninth inning of their game against the Atlanta Braves.
Throughout the inning, as Braves closer Craig Kimbrel began his unique pitch setup and delivery, the fans behind the plate mimicked him.
Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve insisted he wanted to win his AL batting title on his own. Unfortunately, his organization wasn't going to give him that opportunity originally on Sunday, instead electing to bench Altuve for their game against the New York Mets while he holds a precarious three-point edge over Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers.
Lawless on decision to sit Altuve today: “For the organization and for Jose, we thought it was best for him to sit…(1/2)
Lawless: “It gives him a chance to sit back and relax and relish what he’s done…He’s had more at bats than anyone.” (2/2)
But good news! About 20 minutes before first pitch on Sunday, the Astros have changed their minds. Altuve will play and determine his own his fate in the batting race.
#Astros update: Jose Altuve is in the starting lineup for today's game at second base.
#Astros statement: Altuve approached Lawless prior to today's game and was passionate about playing today. (1/2)
Those rooting for chaos in baseball's final weekend are witnessing all of their dreams coming true heading into Sunday. While three teams had an opportunity to clinch either a division championship or a wild-card spot on Saturday. In the name of said chaos, all three failed to cross the finish line, setting up what could be and likely will be a wild final day in baseball's regular season.
The most notable situation surrounds the one postseason spot that has yet to be claimed — the second AL wild card. On both Friday and Saturday night in Texas, the A's needed just a victory to punch their ticket to the AL wild-card game, yet theComy were unable to get the job done, falling 2-1 and 5-4 respectively against the worst team record wise in the AL. That left the door open slightly for the Seattle Mariners, and with two wins over the Angels, they're just one back with one game to play.
LaTroy Hawkins is the pitcher who seems like he's been around for as long as you've been watching baseball, though some fans might be surprised to learn that the 41-year-old right-hander truly has been around that long. On Saturday night in Los Angeles, Hawkins' longevity was celebrated as he was called upon to make his 1,000th career pitching appearance, a milestone only 15 pitchers before him had reached.
Hawkins, who has served as Colorado's closer all season, entered in the eighth inning with the Rockies trailing. He faced one batter, getting Darwin Barney on a fly ball to right. So we can add efficient and spotless to describe his historic outing. Colorado would actually tie the game in the ninth on Ben Paulsen's home run, but ultimately fell 6-5 in the 12th. But the night for them was seemingly about celebrating and acknowledging Hawkins' great career.
Baseball's final day was already setting up to be chaotic with the AL and NL Central divisions still left to be decided. Now we can add the American League's second wild-card spot to the mix, because the scenario most baseball fans not-so-subtlely rooted for has played out in both Texas and Seattle.
With a chance to secure the wild-card for the second straight night, the Oakland A's continued their epic collapse with a 5-4 loss to the American League's worst team, the Texas Rangers. Meanwhile, in Seattle, the Mariners survived their second straight do-or-die game against baseball's best team, the Los Angeles Angels, winning 2-1 in a dramatic 11-inning game.