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Roy Oswalt retires


Roy Oswalt was one of the best when he was in his prime, but then his prime ended, as did his health and effectiveness. Now he’s calling it quits:

Oswalt had said earlier this winter that he had wanted to pitch this year, but no one was biting. And, frankly, that’s understandable. Oswalt had an 8.63 ERA in six starts and three relief appearances in 2013 after posting a 5.80 ERA in nine starts and eight relief appearances with the Rangers in 2012. His velocity was down and people were hitting line drives off him.

But before he lost it he was a wonderful pitcher, of course. He finishes his career with a 163-102 record, a 3.36 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 1,852/520 over 2,245.1 innings in 13 seasons.  He had 150 wins through his first ten seasons and looked slated for the Hall of Fame.

For both good and for bad, I’ll probably think of him as the pitching Dale Murphy. Not as good as Murphy at his peak, of course, but up there. Just one of the best. And then the unfortunate premature falloff.

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.