So much for any Game No. 162 chaos in baseball: The San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles grabbed the last three playoff spots Sunday, and the October matchups are set.
Neat and clean, no need for all sorts of tiebreakers. Too bad – that kind of final-day scramble might’ve been fun for fans.
Instead, they could sit back, savor Vin Scully’s farewell call and prepare for the postseason. It opens Tuesday night when the Orioles visit Toronto in the A.L. wild-card game.
“All we asked for is an opportunity, and right now, we have an opportunity,” Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones said after a 5-2 win over the New York Yankees. “So, let’s celebrate and enjoy this and get back to work.”
No official word yet on the starting pitchers at Rogers Centre. Figures to be Chris Tillman for the O’s against Marcus Stroman.
On Wednesday night, aces duel as Madison Bumgarner starts for the Giants vs. Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets at Citi Field in the N.L. wild-card game.
“We found a way to get back to where we need to be,” Bumgarner said after his team’s 7-1 win finished off a sweep of the Dodgers. “If we play like we have been the last three days, we’ll be tough to beat.”
On Thursday, the best-of-five A.L. Division Series begins: David Ortiz and Boston at Cleveland, and the wild-card winner at Texas.
“I guess I wish Ortiz would consider retiring early,” said Indians manager Terry Francona, who previously guided Big Papi with the Red Sox, “but I don’t see that happening.”
On Friday night, Clayton Kershaw starts Game 1 for the Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington, and the N.L. wild-card winner plays the best-in-the-majors Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Going into Game 162, Detroit and St. Louis also had a chance to reach the postseason. That raised the possibility of multi-team, multi-city tiebreakers going into early next week.
The Tigers were in the middle of that mix. They hoped to win at Atlanta and have either the Orioles or Blue Jays lose – then, they would’ve needed to win a makeup game at home Monday against Detroit to force a tiebreaker for an A.L. wild-card spot.
“I would not have enjoyed the travel,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, “but I would have relished traveling.”
That kind of drama never developed as the teams holding leads took care of business.
Manager Buck Showalter and Baltimore sealed their spot, winning at Yankee Stadium. When the Tigers later lost 1-0 at Atlanta in the last game at Turner Field, they were out and Toronto was back in for the second straight year.
Later, the Blue Jays’ 2-1 victory at Fenway Park meant they would host Baltimore.
With All-Star catcher Buster Posey getting three hits and driving in three runs, San Francisco beat the Dodgers and eliminated the Cardinals.
The Giants have enjoyed a recent run of even-year success, winning the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
The last time they reached the postseason, Bumgarner pitched a shutout at Pittsburgh in the wild-card game and went on to become the World Series MVP. So another cross-country flight to begin the playoffs was fine by them.
“I don’t think it bothers anybody that we go on the road to win these games. It’s actually a lot of fun,” first baseman Brandon Belt said. “With Bumgarner on the mound, we’re going to have a good shot.”