The Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals and Oakland Athletics clinched Major League Baseball playoff berths, while the New York Yankees’ postseason chances took another hit with a 2-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
The Braves and Cardinals both were guaranteed playoff spots yesterday when the Washington Nationals lost to the Miami Marlins 4-2 in the opening game of a double-header. The Nationals won the second game 5-4, leaving them 84-72 with six regular-games remaining, and can record no more than 90 wins.
The Braves clinched the National League East division title for the first time since 2005 with the Nationals’ loss and then beat the Chicago Cubs 5-2 to improve to 92-63. Andrelton Simmons hit two home runs in the Braves’ victory.
“This wouldn’t be as special if we didn’t go out and take care of our business,” Justin Upton of the Braves told reporters yesterday. “That was our goal from the minute we stepped in here this morning, to take care of it ourselves.”
The Cardinals lost to the Milwaukee Brewers 6-4 yesterday, yet lead the NL Central by two games at 91-65 and are assured of at least a wild-card playoff berth.
The Oakland Athletics won their second straight American League West title yesterday even though they had baseball’s fourth-lowest opening-day payroll at an estimated $65 million. The A’s (93-63) beat the Minnesota Twins 11-7 as Coco Crisp, Daric Barton and Jed Lowrie all hit home runs.
The Braves, Cardinals and Athletics bring to five the number of teams that have clinched spots in the MLB playoffs. The Los Angeles Dodgers previously won the NL West, while the Boston Red Sox won the AL East.
The Yankees slipped four games back in the race for the second of two wild card berths in the American League with yesterday’s loss, which came after the team held a 50-minute pregame ceremony to honor Mariano Rivera. The Yankees retired the No. 42 jersey of MLB’s all-time saves leader, who said during spring training that this would be his final season.
The Giants snapped a 1-1 tie in the top of the eighth inning on Tony Abreu’s run-scoring double off reliever David Robertson, who took over after starting pitcher Andy Pettitte went seven innings in his final regular-season start at Yankee Stadium. Pettitte is also retiring after this season.
“This was a big loss,” Pettitte said. “We’ve got to try to pull off a miracle here.”
The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 for their third straight win and hold the first of the AL’s two wild card berths at 86-69. The Cleveland Indians completed a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros with a 9-2 win that gives them a 1 1/2-game lead over Texas for the second AL wild card.
The Rangers lost to the Kansas City Royals 4-0 on Justin Maxwell’s grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning, dropping to 84-71 overall. The Royals now are 3 1/2 games behind the Indians with an 82-73 record.
The Yankees are 82-74 and are getting closer to missing the playoffs for the second time in 19 years following their sixth loss in the past 10 games. New York has six games remaining, with three at home against Tampa Bay and then three on the road against the Astros.
“We’re still alive, but this one really hurts,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s tough.”
The Orioles are 4 1/2 games behind the Indians for the second wild card berth after yesterday’s loss to the Rays. The wild cards go to the two non division-winners in each league with the best records.
The Cincinnati Reds routed Pittsburgh 11-3 yesterday to pull even with the Pirates for the NL wild-card lead. Both teams are 89-67 and have a magic number of two, meaning they need any combination of their wins, or losses by the Nationals totaling two to clinch a playoff berth.
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