Baseball: Weekend Digest (Sept. 30 Edition)

A roundup of news and notes from this weekend in baseball.

The Rangers and Rays will play one last time.

The Rangers and Rays will play one last time.

The final weekend of Major League Baseball’s regular season proved to have plenty to talk about and best of all, after 162 games it’s not over just yet.

BettingSports.com brings you a rundown of the headlines from this past weekend and looks ahead to October play.

Close But No Cigar

End of an era.

End of an era.

When we checked in last Monday, six teams were vying for two wild card berths in the American League. By the time the weekend rolled around, that number was down to three.

The Baltimore Orioles were the first to be eliminated from contention, first losing a fourth straight game to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday before being handed a season-ending 3-2 loss by the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.

Wednesday then saw the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees added to the list of teams preparing for the long cold winter. The Royals dropped a pair of road games (Tue/Wed) against the Seattle Mariners to fall out of the wild card race.

The Yankees were eliminated by wins elsewhere in the league shortly before losing a second straight to the Rays. Joe Girardi’s club, which faces a very uncertain offseason, would go on to be swept by the Rays before sweeping the Houston Astros in Space City, bidding farewell to Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte.

In the National League, the Washington Nationals’ slim hopes of making the postseason came to an end Monday with a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Highly touted in the preseason, the Nats came on strong late in the season to finish with a respectable record. The team will need to find a way to carry this sort of performance through the season.

Tigers, Cardinals Clinch Division Titles

The Detroit Tigers locked up the AL Central title Wednesday on the back of Max Scherzer’s 21st win of the season. With five losses in the last seven, and with the health of Miguel Cabrera in question, the Tigers have been spluttering, but managed to do just enough to finish one game ahead of the Cleveland Indians.

Friday saw the St. Louis Cardinals secure the NL Central title, joining the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers as automatic Division Series qualifiers. From there, a six-game winning streak to close out the regular season – which came as part of a 17-5 run – proved enough to beat the Braves into first place in the league, securing home field advantage through the NLCS.

Bucs Sweep Reds, Host Wild Card

The Buccos are heading to the postseason.

The Buccos are heading to the postseason.

After securing a first postseason berth since 1992 on Monday, the Pittsburgh Pirates got the better of the Cincinnati Reds this weekend, sweeping their division rivals to take home advantage in Tuesday’s National League Wild Card Game between the two.

The three-game sweep served up a certain measure of revenge for the Pirates, who lost a home series to the Reds last weekend. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has dropped five straight heading into Tuesday’s crucial game.

Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates odds for 10/1/13 will be available shortly.

The Reds will send Johnny Cueto (5-2, 2.82 ERA) to the mound, while Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02 ERA) will the rubber for the Buccos.

Rangers, Rays Face Game No. 163

After a wild card race that has been so incredibly close, it seems fitting that it will take a tiebreaker game to separate the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays for the final American League postseason berth.

Both teams navigated some choppy waters late in the season to finish the regular season tied at 91-71. Tampa dropped a couple of potentially costly games in Toronto this weekend, while the Rangers made the most of weak opposition this week, defeating the Astros and Los Angeles Angels to finish the season with a seven-game winning streak. Now the team will look to win an eighth and ninth game before meeting the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS.

The two meet on Monday (8:07 p.m. ET) in a winner takes all matchup. The Rangers will have home field advantage by way of a 4-3 advantage in the season head-to-head.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers odds for 9/30/13 will be available shortly.

Tampa Bay will send David Price (9-8, 3.39 ERA) to the mound. Texas will counter with Martin Perez (10-5, 3.55 ERA).

The winner will meet the Cleveland Indians in the American League Wild Card Game on Wednesday. The Indians put together a 10-game winning streak to close out the season and secure the first wild card berth, one game ahead of the Rays and Rangers.

Welcome To October

The Indians will play in the AL Wild Card Game.

The Indians will play in the AL Wild Card Game.

The division round begins Thursday with National League play. The NL-best St. Louis Cardinals will host the winner of the Wild Card game between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The Cardinals finished the season 11-8 against both division rivals. Game 2 will follow on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers travel to the Atlanta Braves in a battle of division winners. The Braves were 5-2 against the Dodgers this season and with home field advantage could open as the favorite, but Los Angeles’ star-studded lineup looks potentially lethal. Game 2 takes place on Friday before the series switches to Los Angeles on Sunday.

The Oakland Athletics will host the Detroit Tigers on Friday in the first game on their divisional series. The AL West champs went 4-3 against the Tigers this season, which is testament to how close this series, a rematch of the 2012 ALDS, could be. Game 2 will be played on Saturday.

Boston’s reward for finishing with the best record in the American League is to sit and wait to find out which of three opponents it will meet on Friday. After Monday’s tiebreaker between Tampa Bay and Texas, the Red Sox will watch Tuesday’s game between the tiebreaker winner and the Cleveland Indians before knowing which team is heading to Bean Town.

The Red Sox were 12-7 against the Rays this season; 6-1 against the Indians; but 2-4 against the Rangers.

POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

Monday

Tampa Bay at Texas (AL Tiebreaker)

Tuesday

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (NL Wild Card)

Wednesday

AL Tiebreaker winner at Cleveland (AL Wild Card)

Thursday

NL Wild Card winner at St. Louis (NLDS Game 1)

LA Dodgers at Atlanta (NLDS Game 1)

Friday

AL Wild Card winner at Boston (ALDS Game 1)

Detroit at Oakland (ALDS Game 1)

LA Dodgers at Atlanta (NLDS Game 2)

NL Wild Card winner at St. Louis (NLDS Game 2)

Saturday

AL Wild Card winner at Boston (ALDS Game 2)

Detroit at Oakland (ALDS Game 2)

Sunday

Atlanta at LA Dodgers (NLDS Game 3)

St. Louis Cardinals at NL Wild Card winner (NLDS Game 3)

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