Link-O-Rama: Valentine, Tigers, Schmidt, Griffey

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* Bobby Valentine revealed that he was “baffled” by the Nationals’ interview process and decision to choose Jim Riggleman over him for the manager job. “I’m pretty sure they had Jim in their back pockets the whole time,” Valentine said.
* Asked about rumors that the Tigers are being forced to shop Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson because of payroll constraints, general manager Dave Dombrowski said: “We’re not having a fire sale.” Of course, no one really accused Detroit of holding a fire sale and he didn’t deny anything specific regarding Granderson or Jackson.
* Jason Schmidt is keeping his options open, but will likely retire after spending the past three years unsuccessfully coming back from shoulder surgery. Schmidt won just three games during his three-year, $47 million contract with the Dodgers after going 78-37 with a 3.36 ERA over six seasons for the rival Giants.
* Now that Ken Griffey Jr. is back in Seattle for at least one more season, Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer examines how far the future Hall of Famer can move up various all-time leaderboards.

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.