MLB Week in Review (Sept. 29 – Oct 5)

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The MLB started on a new path this week as the first ever Wild Card Games took place to determine the last playoff spot. These Wild Card games were created at the beginning of the season as the MLB looked for a way to add some more excitement to the postseason. A lot of the reasoning had to do with the way the 2011 season ended when everything came down to a few games in the league. The MLB saw this and saw what it did for them as the race for the postseason was one of the best in MLB history and led to a lot more interest in the race and the actual postseason. The MLB wanted to capitalize on this excitement and so they added an extra playoff spot in hopes that the playoff race would be that much better. The strategy seemed to work as the playoff picture was not solved until the last week of the regular season. More teams than ever were in the hunt late into September as teams that generally had no chance of getting in years ago were finally in the hunt. As the season came down to the last day the two wild card teams in both leagues had yet to be determined. Everyone that was fighting to stay out of the Wild Card was going to be in the playoffs but they did not year know who they would face in their first postseason game. In the American League the Detroit Tigers were the only team that knew they would be a division winner while the AL East and AL West were still up for grabs. In the East the season long battle between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles came down to the last day as the Yankees only needed a win to clinch the division. In the end both teams won their last game forcing the Orioles to take their unexpected show to the wild card game. In the AL West the division would come down to the last game between the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics. The division would be determined by the winner of the game as both teams wanted the division crown. In the end a big mistake by Josh Hamilton set the table for a Oakland win forcing the Rangers to host the American League Wild Card Game. In the National League the Atlanta Braves knew they would be in the wild card game after the Nationals took the division while the St. Louis Cardinals snuck in to take the last spot near the end of the season. As these four teams looked to the future they saw one game that could change their entire season, which meant that anything could happen. In the American League Wild Card game the improbable Baltimore Orioles went to Texas to continue a season where they made the postseason when they were expected to do nothing all season. The Orioles squeaked out a couple of runs early in the game against Yu Darvish but the star pitcher kept the game in control for the most part. Meanwhile his counterpart Joe Saunders was not as dominant but still did more than enough to keep the very cold Texas offence in check. As the game wore on the Orioles were finally free of Darvish and began opening up their offence to go ahead and stay ahead. The Rangers could do nothing it seemed as their offence sputtered and despite some chances at a comeback they could not pull it off as Jim Johnson came in for the 9th to shut them down and send them packing. With the win the O’s were able to extend their season again as they would take on their AL East rivals the New York Yankees in the Divisional Series. In the National League the game was much more of a debate as the St. Louis Cardinals travelled to Atlanta to take on the Braves. Both teams seemed a little off in the game but the mistakes and errors by the Braves put them down early. Then came the infamous call as the Braves looked to load the bases down 6-3 in the 8th inning after the Cardinals let a routine fly ball fall to the ground. As the fans celebrated though the umpire called the batter out due to an infield fly call. The ball was in shallow left and forced the player to make a big effort to get to it while the call was also very late in the play. These two aspects of the play go against the rule in calling an infield fly called but with no replay the call stood and the Braves were taken out of the inning after two more outs. The game moved on but the Braves could not get anything as they took the lost and despite a protest by the team the call stood. The Wild Card games this year were as promised as there was plenty of drama. The games also showed the argument against this type of system as one blown call can change the game and essentially eliminate a team from the postseason. It was a crazy day in MLB history and it was a great one as teams moved on and debates were started as the postseason is officially underway in the 2012 season.

The Wild Cards games kicked off the postseason in a dramatic fashion but two teams became the first eliminated while another two lived to see another day. As the postseason series begin there are some very interesting matchups that should make this postseason a great one. In the American League the battle that has been going since the start of the season will take focus as the Yankees and Orioles face off once again. The Yankees have been good this year but the one team that has challenged them all year has been the Orioles who pushed the Yankees to the last game to secure the division title. In the other American League matchup the very scary Detroit Tigers take on the Oakland Athletics who represent another big surprise this year and are hoping to pull out a big upset in the divisional series. In the National League the defending champions are looking to recapture that magic that put them into the Championship last year. They will be in tough though in the worst to first Washington Nationals who are itching to get at their first postseason appearance since moving to Washington. The other series the 2010 Champions are back as the San Francisco Giants take on the Cincinnati Reds. It will be a matchup of pitching as the Giants rotation looks to get back to their championship ways while the bullpen of the Reds looks to take control. Despite the debate the postseason has started in exciting fashion and the remaining 8 teams look to continue the trend as they march towards the World Series.

 

MLB Postseason:

 

AL Wild Card:
Baltimore Orioles 5 – 1 Texas Rangers
– The Orioles pitching staff outperformed the Japanese superstar Yu Darvish as the Rangers could not get to the World Series for a third straight year continuing their cold streak into the postseason

 

ALDS:
New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles
Game 1: NYY @ BAL (October 7th; 6:00 pm EDT)
Game 2: NYY @ BAL (October 8th; 8:00 pm EDT)
Game 3: BAL @ NYY (October 10th; TBD)
Game 4: BAL @ NYY (October 11th; TBD)
Game 5: BAL @ NYY (October 12th; TBD)

 

Oakland Athletics vs. Detroit Tigers
Game 1: OAK @ DET (October 6th; 6:00 pm EDT)
Game 2: OAK @ DET (October 7th; 12:00 pm EDT)
Game 3: DET @ OAK (October 9th; 9:00 pm EDT)
Game 4: DET @ OAK (October 10th; TBD)
Game 5: DET @ OAK (October 11th; TBD)

 

NL Wild Card:
St. Louis Cardinals 6 – 3 Atlanta Braves
– It was a close game where the Cards were able to get to Kris Medlen early and then the Infield Fly Call changed everything delaying the game after the fans threw garbage on to the field and taking the wind out of the sails of the Braves

 

NLDS:
Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Game 1: WSH @ STL (October 7th; 3:00 pm EDT)
Game 2: WSH @ STL (October 8th; 4:30 pm EDT)
Game 3: STL @ WSH (October 10th; TBD)
Game 4: STL @ WSH (October 11th; TBD)
Game 5: STL @ WSH (October 12th; TBD)

 

Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants
Game 1: CIN @ SF (October 6th; 9:30 pm EDT)
Game 2: CIN @ SF (October 7th; 9:30 pm EDT)
Game 3: SF @ CIN (October 9th; 5:30 pm EDT)
Game 4: SF @ CIN (October 10th; TBD)
Game 5: SF @ CIN (October 11th; TBD)

Games Played If Needed

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