The Oakland A's and the Detroit Tigers, two of the hottest teams in the majors as the regular season ended, earned a dubious prize -- they get to play each other in the American League Division Series.
The A's, who completed their historic comeback with a 12-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday to win the AL West, finished as the No. 2 seed in the AL and will travel to Detroit to play the Tigers, seeded third, in Game 1 of the best-of-five ALDS at 6:07 p.m. EDT Saturday.
The A's won nine of their last 11 games to catch the Rangers, and the Tigers -- led by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera (.330 batting average, 44 home runs, 139 RBI) -- had won seven of their last nine through Tuesday to fend off the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central title.
The New York Yankees, who earned the No. 1 AL seed by one game over the A's with their 14-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night, will play the winner of the newly created wild-card play-in game, in which the Baltimore Orioles will play at Texas at 8:37 p.m. EDT on Friday. The Yankees will travel to Baltimore or Texas for Game 1 on Sunday.
The Orioles could have turned that into a home game if they had won Wednesday night, but they lost 4-1 at Tampa Bay. The Rangers get to play at home because they won the season series against the Orioles, five games to two.
The National League wasn't nearly as complicated, and those matchups were finalized when the Washington Nationals defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 Wednesday afternoon to clinch the top seed.
That meant that the Nationals will play the winner of Friday's play-in game between the two NL wild cards, the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals (5:07 p.m. EDT). That Division Series will begin Sunday at Atlanta or St. Louis.
The other NL Division Series is a juicy matchup: The Reds and manager Dusty Baker, who recently suffered a mini-stroke while he was hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat, vs. Baker's former team, the San Francisco Giants, who won the World Series just two years ago -- and went to the World Series with Baker as their manager in 2002.
The Reds and Giants begin their series at 9:37 p.m. EDT Saturday in San Francisco. The other series starts Sunday at Atlanta or St. Louis.
One of the controversial aspects of the new playoff format this year is that the Division Series has a "2-3" format -- two games at the home of the lower seed followed by three games, if three are necessary, at the home of the higher seed.
The change from the "2-2-1" format, in which the higher seed was home for Games 1, 2 and 5, was necessitated because the season ended later -- Oct. 3 compared to Sept. 28 last year -- and the extra play-in games took away a travel day.
As a result, the A's, Yankees, Nationals and Reds potentially could get only one home game unless they can get at least a split on the road in the first two games.
The new darlings of baseball are the A's, only the third team in baseball history to be in first place alone only one day all season -- the last day. The other two: the 2006 Minnesota Twins and the 1951 "Shot Heard 'Round the World" New York Giants.
More history: The A's are the first team in baseball history to win a division or league title after trailing by five or more games with nine games or fewer remaining.
The A's trailed the Rangers by 13 games on June 30. They are one of five teams to come back from a deficit of 13 games or more. The others: the 1914 Boston Braves (15 games), the 1978 New York Yankees (14) and the '51 Giants and 1995 Seattle Mariners (both 13).