So much for any Game No. 162 chaos in baseball: The San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles grabbed the last three playoff spots Sunday, and the October matchups are set.
Neat and clean, no need for tiebreakers.
The postseason opens Tuesday night when the Orioles visit Toronto in the American League wild-card game.
“All we asked for is an opportunity, and right now, we have an opportunity,” center fielder Adam Jones said after Baltimore’s 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees. “So, let’s celebrate and enjoy this and get back to work.”
On Wednesday night, Madison Bumgarner starts for the Giants against Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets at Citi Field in the National League wild-card matchup.
“We found a way to get back to where we need to be,” Bumgarner said after the Giants completed a three-game sweep of the Dodgers. “If we play like we have been the last three days, we’ll be tough to beat.”
On Thursday, Cleveland plays host to Boston in the first game of a best-of-five AL division series and Texas opens at home in the other division series against the wild-card winner.
On Friday night, the Dodgers start an NL division series at Washington and Chicago plays host to the wild-card winner in the opener of the other division series.
Going into Game 162, Detroit and St. Louis each had a chance to reach the postseason, which would have raised the possibility of multi-team, multi-city tiebreakers.
The Tigers were in the middle of that mix. They hoped to win at Atlanta and have the Orioles or Blue Jays lose, then they would have needed to win a makeup game at home Monday against Cleveland to force a tiebreaker for an AL wild-card spot.
“I would not have enjoyed the travel,” Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus said, “but I would have relished traveling.”
Manager Buck Showalter and Baltimore sealed their spot, winning at Yankee Stadium. When the Tigers lost, 1-0, at Atlanta, they were out and Toronto was back in for the second consecutive season.
Later, the Blue Jays’ 2-1 victory at Boston meant they would host Baltimore.
The Giants’ win over the Dodgers eliminated the Cardinals.
The Giants have enjoyed a recent run of even-year success, winning the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
The last time they reached the postseason, Bumgarner pitched a shutout at Pittsburgh in the wild-card game and went on to become the World Series most valuable player. So another cross-country flight to begin the playoffs was fine by them.
“I don’t think it bothers anybody that we go on the road to win these games. It’s actually a lot of fun,” first baseman Brandon Belt said. “With Bumgarner on the mound, we’re going to have a good shot.”