Inge plays hurt, hurts team, heads for surgery

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Players are almost always praised for remaining in the lineup despite an injury, with most people viewing it as a mix of toughness, competitiveness, and being a good teammate.
That’s certainly true in many cases, but what about the guys who stay in the lineup despite an injury and then perform horribly while clearly at much less than full strength? Brandon Inge was a perfect example of that this season, as his knees began bothering him in early July.
At the time he was having a fantastic season, hitting .275/.367/.521 with 18 homers while making his first All-Star team, but he was diagnosed with microtears in the patella tendons of both knees and went on to bat just .189/.266/.303 during the final three months while starting 81 times.
That entire time announcers, reporters, and teammates constantly praised Inge’s toughness and willingness to play through pain. In theory those are certainly commendable traits, but in reality he contributed to the Tigers’ late-season fade by hurting the team with his horrible post-injury production.
And now he’s scheduled for knee surgery after an MRI exam revealed more damage than initially discovered. He’s expected to be healthy in time for spring training, which will be crucial for the Tigers in 2010. They can’t afford another extended stretch of uselessness from third base just because Inge is a tough guy.

Royals clinch home field advantage, best record in the American League

Lorenzo Cain
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With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.

95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.

In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.

Yankees to host AL Wild Card Game after Astros lose to D’Backs

Jacoby Ellsbury, Tony Pena
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Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.

The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.

The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.

The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.