Season-closing frenzy cements October field

October 2nd, 2016

The baseball gods must have known we're collectively going to need a day of rest before what figures to be an epic October. Because Scoreboard Sunday -- a day when all of our eyes were affixed to the myriad postseason possibilities still present in the final hours of the Major League season -- was Surprisingly Straightforward Sunday. By the end of the 15-game slate, all of the postseason seeds were wrapped up in a nice, tidy bow, and now the real craziness can begin.

In a "win and you're in" scenario, the Blue Jays, Orioles and Giants all won and are in. And with home-field advantage in the American League Division Series up for grabs, the Indians won while the Red Sox lost, so that series will start in Cleveland.

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Because the Blue Jays, O's and Giants all took care of business, there will be no two-team or three-team tiebreakers in the Wild Card races, something that was a distinct possibility going into the day. Nor will there be any need for the Indians and Tigers to make up a rained-out game on Monday, because nothing would be at stake in that game, after all.

So this is what the final postseason picture looks like:


Wild Card Game: Orioles at Blue Jays, 8 p.m. ET, Tuesday (TBS, Sportsnet)

Division Series 1: Rangers vs. Orioles or Blue Jays, begins Thursday at Texas (TBS)

Division Series 2: Indians vs. Red Sox, begins Thursday at Cleveland (TBS)


Wild Card Game: Giants at Mets, 8 p.m. ET, Wednesday (ESPN)

Division Series 1: Cubs vs. Giants or Mets, begins Friday at Chicago (Fox Sports 1, MLB Network)

Division Series 2: Nationals vs. Dodgers, begins Friday at Washington (Fox Sports 1, MLB Network)

The Giants' 7-1 victory over the Dodgers on the last day of Vin Scully's 67th and final season was a necessary one, because the Cardinals beat the Pirates. Had the Giants lost, there would have been a tiebreaker game on Monday in St. Louis, but Trade Deadline acquisition was terrific over eight sharp innings in which he allowed just a run on three hits and two walks, and the Giants' bats jumped all over for five quick runs in the first and second innings.

"We didn't get help," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We had to help ourselves. And we did."

And now we're in line for an epic arrangement: vs. (whose legacy in the one-and-done is already secure). Winner. Take. All.

In the AL, a three-team tie featuring the O's, Blue Jays and Tigers was possible if and only if the O's and Blue Jays both lost and the Tigers both won Sunday and won a makeup game against the Indians on Monday. But the O's held on against the the Yankees in the Bronx for a 5-2 victory spurred by ' two-homer, four-RBI effort and 's strong 7 1/3 innings. Not many among us expected the O's to get to this point given the concerns about their rotation this year. They proved a lot of doubters wrong, or, as outfielder put it, "We proved ourselves right."

"It's a chance to roll the dice now," manager Buck Showalter added.

The Orioles will roll them against the Blue Jays. Though saw his no-hit bid snapped by a homer in the seventh inning, the Blue Jays were able to pull out a 2-1 win in Boston, with singling home the go-ahead run in the eighth.

Meanwhile, the Tigers didn't even win, anyway. Their frustrating final weekend came to a close with a 1-0 loss to the Braves.

So now the AL Wild Card Game is set between two heated division rivals. The Blue Jays earned the right to host it at Rogers Centre -- which housed more than 3 million fans over the course of this season -- by virtue of their 10-9 record in head-to-head games against the O's.

"It wasn't easy getting in," manager John Gibbons said. "But the fact is, you get in and then see what happens."

Amen. We still have a lot in store. For three clubs, a postseason berth wasn't nailed down until the final minutes of the final day. But as we've seen in postseasons past, it's not about who enters first but who is standing last.