For a while it looked like the AL Wild Card race would com down to the final day of the season. In the end, it got pretty close but ultimately was decided with two games left to spare, with both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics securing the two places at the expense of the Cleveland Indians. Oakland ‘backed in,’ so to speak on Friday night despite a 4-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners due to the fact that the Indians lost 8-2 at the Washington Nationals. That took care of one spot. Later in the night, the Rays were given a chance to do the same against the Toronto Blue Jays, and they would do just that thanks to a 6-2 win on the road. Tyler Glasnow started the game and went four and 1/3 innings without giving up a hit while Tommy Pham hit a two-run homer. They will return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013 as a result. The A’s and Rays will meet each other in the Wild Card Game next Wednesday, but there are still two games to go and both teams are on identical 96-64 records. Should the end up tied, Oakland will host be virtue of a superior head-to-head record.
The talent disparity in Major League Baseball has never been this big before. There are a lot of very bad teams, but there are also some very good ones. The Minnesota Twins, much to everyone’s surprise, are one of those very good ones, as they reeled off their 100th win of the season on Friday night, becoming the fourth team to do so this year. Only seven other seasons saw that number of teams finish with that many wins, showing just how much the game is changing. As for the game itself, the AL Central winners, who will play the New York Yankees starting next Friday in the AL Divisional Round, won 6-2 over the Kansas City Royals after a rain-shortened 6 ½ innings. The Royals are one of a record-tying four teams with over 100 losses. It’s only the second season ever where that dubious feat has been achieved.
Cam Newton, like many a star player before him, has admitted to covering up how badly he was injured earlier this season. The injury in question is a midfoot sprain that he got back in the preseason. Newton admits that he played on and didn’t let on that it was as bad as it was. When the regular season rolled around, everyone could tell something was up due to his limited mobility. As a result, he’ll be out on Sunday for the second week in a row. He underlined that he would not rush back this time and that his ultimate goal was to the win the Super Bowl. It’s hard to do that on the sidelines, sure. But that goal may have to wait another season as the Panthers are just 1-2 and won’t be able to use him for a while.