Yankees claim AL East, home field; A’s to take on Tigers

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By losing 4-1 to the Rays, the Orioles settled things in the American League playoff picture this evening. The Yankees will face the wild card winner, either the Orioles or Rangers, in one ALDS and the A’s will get the Tigers in the other.

The Orioles will travel to Texas to play a one-game playoff Friday. Joe Saunders and Yu Darvish are the expected starters.

The Yankees cruised past the Red Sox 14-2 in Wednesday’s finale, giving them the AL’s best record at 95-67. They’ll have home-field advantage until the World Series. The NL already secured home field in the World Series by winning the All-Star Game.

The AL West champion Athletics are the two-seed with 94 wins. The Orioles and Rangers both finished with 93 wins, but Texas had the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the head-to-head series 5-2.

The Yankees will begin their postseason in either Baltimore or Texas on Sunday, with CC Sabathia expected to start. The ALDS series this year will have the lower seed hosting the first two games, with the high seed going home for Games 3-5.

The A’s will play in Detroit on Saturday. Jarrod Parker or Brett Anderson could start that one against Justin Verlander.

Brandon Morrow shut down for the rest of the season

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Cubs closer Brandon Morrow has been out since the All-Star break with a bone bruise and biceps inflammation. In recent days there had been hope that he would be activated in the season’s final two weeks in order to be ready for the playoffs, but that’s not happening: Theo Epstein just said that Morrow is done for the season.

It’s not the first time good expectations for Morrow’s recovery were not met. When he was placed on the DL back in July manager Joe Maddon said he didn’t anticipate Morrow being on the DL for much more than the minimum 10 days. Two months later and here we are.

Morrow, 34, had an excellent season until the arm trouble started, saving 22 games with a 1.47 ERA and a 31/9 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings. Once he went out the closer’s duties fell to Pedro Strop. Now Strop too is out for at least the rest of the regular season and likely more due to a hamstring strain he suffered last week while running the bases.

Bullpens become a lot more important in the postseason. The Cubs’ bullpen is becoming thinner.