Baseball teams compete for World Series spots
The Cincinnati Reds clinched the National League Central title Tuesday night. It couldn’t have played out any better. Red’s Jay Bruce hit a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning deep to center to claim the Red’s first title since 1995, which was their last playoff appearance.
The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays also had reason to celebrate Tuesday night. Both teams clinched a playoff berth with four games remaining in the season to determine who wins the tough American League East. For now each team has clinched a wild card spot, so now it’s time to claim an AL East regular season champion.
Red’s win 3-2 over the Astros Tuesday was their 22nd win in their final at-bat of the season. Bruce was struggling at the plate going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts to Astros left-handed ace Wandy Rodriguez, and in his final at-bat he faced another lefty Tim Byrdak. Bruce is .260 vs. lefties.
The Red’s skipper Dusty Baker has to credit his team’s effort this season, given the fact that they have accomplished their goal to reaching the playoffs in 15 years with a good rotation, a good bullpen, timely hitting and good defense.
CC Sabathia led the limping Yankees going into Tuesday night with an 8 1/3 outing holding the Blue Jays to a run and three hits. The Yankees have reached the playoffs in 15 of their last 16 seasons, and are still in contention of winning the American League East, where every year has been a tight race all the way to the last game of the season.
The Yankees will start Sabathia in Game 1 of the AL Divisional Series where Sabathia is far too familiar, he helped the Yankees solidify their greatness with a World Series Championship last year.
If anyone is worth mentioning in the AL East it is the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. With a half game lead over the Yankees, and the AL’s best record, the Devil Rays control their own destiny in getting into the playoffs as the no. 1 seed. David Price, the Rays’ no. 1 starter, handled the Orioles for eight innings before Rafael Soriano came in the ninth to seal the win for the Rays’ its second postseason berth in three years.It was a team effort to win. BJ Upton had an RBI single in the second to start the Rays 1-0, then Carl Crawford scored from first base off a Dan Johnson two-out double in right field. Carlos Peña added with a solo homerun in the fourth to put the Rays up 3-0. Ben Zobrist had a sac fly bringing in John Jaso in the fifth, only later to be followed by Carl Crawford’s seventeenth homer on the season putting the Rays up 5-0.
The Yanks, Reds and Rays are the latest ball clubs to join the Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies in the postseason. With the American League all penciled in for the playoffs, the National League still needs positions filled in its playoff race for the World Series. The San Francisco Giants have a two game lead and are still battling it out with the San Diego Padres for the NL West, while the Atlanta Braves have a strong 1.5 game lead in the NL Wild Card over the Padres.
The Devil Rays finish their final home game of the season against the Orioles before closing the season in Kansas City for a four-game series. The Yankees play one more home game against the Blue Jays before finishing off the season with a three-game series against the Red Sox. While the Giants finish at home with two games against Arizona and a nail-biter to wrap up the three game series against the Padres. Both teams are still in the hunt for an NL West title and Wild Card berth. The Braves finish the season with four home games, including a game between the Marlins. They will close the season with a game against the Phillies, the NL East champions.