The Cleveland Indians joined the Oakland A’s, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2013 MLB postseason yesterday, but one American League Wild Card spot is still up for grabs. Tonight, the Texas Rangers host Franklin Pro Evan Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays, the winner advances to play Cleveland in the new one-game wild-card round.
The Rangers and Rays finished with identical records (91-71) and enter game 163 with playoff hopes on the line. Evan Longoria has fared well in the past against Rangers’ pitching, recording a .341/.388/.648 batting line with 30 hits in 88 at-bats – nine doubles, six home runs and 17 RBI’s. Cleveland secured the top AL wild-card position after rattling off 15 wins in the last 17 games, including 10 straight to finish the season, and awaits the winner of tonight’s Texas and Tampa Bay matchup in Wednesday’s AL wild card game. This is Cleveland’s first trip to the MLB postseason since 2007. Franklin Pro Nick Swisher hopes to keep swinging a hot bat into October; in Cleveland’s last 10 games Swisher has 10 hits – three doubles and two home runs, along with five RBI’s.
As Boston waits to face the winner of the AL wild card game, the other American League Divisional Series is set – Detroit vs. Oakland. The A’s enter the postseason with the league’s second best record (96-66) but Miguel Cabrera is back and determined to lead the Tigers deep into October. Cabrera wrapped up his third straight AL batting title Sunday ending the year with a .348 average – the first player since Wade Boggs to win three consecutive AL batting titles (1985-1988). In 41 playoff games Cabrera has 42 hits, 10 home runs and 30 RBI’s, with a batting line of .276/.379/.533.
In the National League, the wild-card matchup is scheduled for Tuesday night in Pittsburgh featuring the Pirates and Cincinnati Reds. Pittsburgh ended the season Sunday by defeating the Reds in Cincinnati, but everything changes in October. The Bucs hope recently acquired first basemen and Franklin Pro Justin Morneau can ignite a deep push into October – in seven postseason games Morneau has two home runs four RBI’s and a .310/.310/.621 batting line. The Reds and All-Star Joey Votto plan on returning to, and advancing past, the NLDS where Votto had a .389 batting average and .500 on-base percentage last year in a five-game series against the eventual World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. The St. Louis Cardinals own the National League’s best record (97-65) and await the winner of Tuesday’s wild-card matchup in the NLDS. Meanwhile, the Braves and Justin Upton prepare to square off against fellow Franklin Pro Hanley Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the other NLDS, set to begin Thursday.