Well, this is it. The final day of the 2013 regular season. And there are still things to be decided.
The Indians stayed hot and beat the Twins on Saturday behind a dominant Scott Kazmir, clinching at least a tie in the American League Wild Card race with a current record of 91-70. The Rangers topped the Angels with a big day of offense and the Rays lost their second game in a row to the out-of-contention Blue Jays. Which has both Texas and Tampa Bay at 90-71 heading into Sunday.
There would have to be tiebreaker games on both Monday and Tuesday in the event of a three-way tie. If we finish with a two-way tie for the second Wild Card spot, there would be one tiebreaker game on Monday.
In the National League, the top postseason seed is still up for grabs. The Cardinals cruised past the Cubs to move to 96-65 and the Braves lost to the Phillies, falling to 95-66 on the year. If the Cards win their season-finale on Sunday against Chicago, they’ll play the winner of the National League Wild Card Game (Reds or Pirates) in the five-game NLDS. The Braves would then get the Dodgers in their five-game NLDS. If the Cards lose on Sunday and the Braves win, the Braves claim that top spot because they had a a better head-to-head record against St. Louis this season. Got all that?
Your Saturday box scores and recaps:
Angels 4, Rangers 7
Indians 5, Twins 1
Pirates 8, Reds 3
Rays 2, Blue Jays 7
Padres 9, Giants 3
Athletics 5, Mariners 7
Brewers 4, Mets 2 (10 innings)
Cubs 2, Cardinals 6
Red Sox 5, Orioles 6
Royals 5, White Sox 6
Phillies 5, Braves 4
Yankees 2, Astros 1
Tigers 1, Marlins 2 (10 innings)
Nationals 2, Diamondbacks 0
Rockies 1, Dodgers 0
Ben Badler of Baseball America Reports that Major League Baseball has cancelled its Dominican national showcase, which was scheduled for today and tomorrow. Why? Because, Badler reports, trainers and players in the Dominican Republic planned to skip the showcase in protest over Major League Baseball’s push to implement an international draft.
The kicker: Major League Baseball explored bringing in lesser prospects to serve as replacement players for the showcase. MLB, you might recall, has a poor track record of getting replacement workers to fill in for picketing players.
As Badler noted recently, the international draft proposed by Major League Baseball is, despite whatever MLB says, all about paying international players less money. From the Players Union’s perspective, it’s all about selling out amateur players to the supposed benefit of current union members. The allegedly altruistic justifications for the draft simply don’t hold water.
They certainly don’t fool the Dominican players who, even if they are ultimately powerless to stop MLB from stripping them of their bargaining power, will not give it up quietly.
The Game: Chicago Cubs @ Cleveland Indians, World Series Game 2
The Time: 7:00 PM EDT
The Place: Progressive Field, Cleveland
The Channel: FOX
The Starters: Jake Arrieta (Cubs) vs. Trevor Bauer (Indians)
We get going an hour earlier tonight due to the threat of rain. As of now, that still looks like it will be the difference between getting this one in or not, as the chance of rain looks to be a lot higher after a 7pm game would reasonably end:
Still, it’s going to be dicey and the conditions will be less than ideal. It will be especially less-than-idea for Cleveland if the game is delayed early and they have to go to their bullpen earlier than expected tonight. Andrew Miller escaped some jams last night and did his job, but he used a lot of pitches to do it — 46 — and may be pretty limited tonight, if he’s available at all. That puts a lot on Trevor Bauer’s shoulders. Or, actually, his fingers, including the pinky finger on his pitching hand which is full of stitches. Those stitches not holding cost him his ALCS start. Terry Francona is hoping to get a lot more out of his starter tonight. Given how little he has pitched in the playoffs he should have the energy as long as his finger holds up.
As for the Cubs, teams that have lost Game 1 of the World Series are 40-70 and, in recent years, have a worse winning percentage than that, losing it all in 12 of the past 13 years. Eh, not too impressed with that stat as it doesn’t actually deal with the series at hand. At hand, the Cubs have superior starters set to go in each of the next two games, starting tonight with Jake Arrieta. He’s not been fantastic in the playoffs this year, but he’s capable of dominating a game any time out.
The Cubs figure to have a better night at the plate now that Corey Kluber is out of the way. Particularly a lefty like Anthony Rizzo, who is probably happy to see Bauer. Jason Heyward will likely be back in the lineup as well. They had better have a better night. Being down 1-0 is not a death sentence in the World Series, even if it has looked like one recently. Being down 2-0 is not something Chicago wants to chance.