Pulse: Tribe in as Rays, Rangers head to tiebreaker
Indians await winner for AL Wild Card Game on Wednesday in Cleveland
Once again, more than 2,400 games over the course of six months weren't quite enough to decide who gets to play the games every team really wants to play in October. The Pulse of the Postseason ticks on for another day.
After finishing Sunday's action tied for the second American League Wild Card spot, the Rays and Rangers will square off in a tiebreaker Monday night at the Ballpark in Arlington, airing at 8:07 p.m. ET on TBS, each club vying to be the final piece of the playoff puzzle. Tune into Postseason.TV for companion coverage, starting with the tiebreaker and lasting through the Division Series and NLCS.
The final scheduled day of the 2013 regular season began with the possibility of an unprecedented three-team tie for two spots to finalize the postseason field. Instead, Cleveland clinched the top Wild Card position, and now Tampa Bay and Texas are left to settle things on the field.
The winner heads to Progressive Field for Wednesday's AL Wild Card Game, airing on TBS at 8:07 p.m. ET, and a shot at the Red Sox in the AL Division Series. The loser goes home for the winter.
Amid that uncertainty, here's one thing we know for sure: The Indians are in. They claimed the first Wild Card spot Sunday afternoon by beating the Twins, 5-1. Cleveland won 10 straight and 15 of its final 17 games to storm into the postseason for the first time since 2007.
But who will they play? Will it be the Rangers? They beat the Angels, 6-2, on Sunday, scoring four runs from the sixth through the eighth to break a 2-2 tie in what turned out to be a win-or-go-home affair in Texas.
"It was a must-win for us, and we know that the Angels come to play baseball," Rangers catcher Geovany Soto said in a postgame television interview. "It feels great. We're looking forward to Tampa, and hopefully we can press on."
Or will the Indians wind up facing the Rays, no strangers to late-season drama themselves? They wanted to take the most direct path to extending their season Sunday: beating the Blue Jays. Having dropped two in a row to begin this series, Tampa Bay jumped all over Toronto in a six-run first inning but nearly let it all slip away.
In the end, however, the Rays prevailed, 7-6. Tampa Bay has adopted "One More Game" as a motto down the stretch this year, and the Rays earned at least that on Sunday.
"You want to say it was fun, but it kinda wasn't," Rays first baseman James Loney said in a postgame television interview. "It feels good to get that win. ... It's just a long, wild ride. We're looking forward to a lot more games."
The Indians, meanwhile, held on to their one-game edge over the Rays, assuming the No. 1 Wild Card slot by finishing off the Twins at Target Field. By doing so, Cleveland tossed aside the need for a wild three-team tiebreaker scenario and assured that Progressive Field will host Wednesday's AL Wild Card Game.
Taking home the top Wild Card spot concluded a remarkable turnaround from losing 94 the year before to winning 92 this season.
"I think I'm kind of speechless right now," Cleveland's Nick Swisher said during a postgame TV interview amid the Indians' celebration. "To make this happen -- aw, man, this is so great. This is so awesome. This never gets old."
In the NL, the Cardinals took down the Cubs, 4-0, to clinch home-field advantage through the NL Championship Series. The Braves routed the Phillies, 12-5, finishing one game behind the Cardinals in the standings at 96-66. Atlanta held the tiebreaker, having won four of seven in the two clubs' season series, but St. Louis made it a moot point.
Elsewhere, the Red Sox -- the No. 1 seed in the AL -- suffered a 7-6 loss to the Orioles. Boston entered the final day of the season with a chance to win 98 games for the first time since that heady year of 2004.
The Tigers, the AL's third seed, were no-hit by Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez, ultimately losing on a walk-off wild pitch, as they prepared for their AL Division Series against the A's beginning Friday in Oakland.
In the NL, the Pirates and Reds got one more game in before meeting with everything on the line in Tuesday's NL Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh, with the winner heading to St. Louis for the NLDS. The Pirates emerged victorious, beating the Reds, 4-2.
As the No. 3 seed in the NL, the Dodgers learned that they'll head to Atlanta to take on the Braves in their NLDS. They wrapped up their home schedule with the Rockies on Sunday.
2013 MLB POSTSEASON MATCHUPS
Tiebreaker: Rays at Rangers (Monday, 8:07 p.m. ET, TBS)
Wild Card: Rays or Rangers at Indians
Division Series: Wild Card at Red Sox | Tigers at A's
Wild Card: Reds at Pirates
Division Series: Wild Card at Cardinals | Dodgers at Braves
2013 postseason schedule
AL tiebreaker: Monday
NL Wild Card Game: Tuesday
AL Wild Card Game: Wednesday
NL Division Series begin: Thursday
AL Division Series begin: Friday
NL Championship Series begins: Oct. 11
AL Championship Series begins: Oct. 12
World Series begins: Oct. 23