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Question of the Day
Here’s how the pennant races look with two days to go:
_ FIVE ALIVE: A muddled mess only days ago, the American League playoff picture is clearing up quickly. All five spots are secured: New York, Baltimore, Detroit, Texas and Oakland are in. The Tigers won the AL Central on Monday night with a 6-3 victory in Kansas City and will open the postseason at home Saturday. The other two division titles remain up for grabs.
_ COAST TO COAST: The Yankees routed rival Boston 10-2 to take a one-game lead in the AL East over the Orioles, who lost 5-3 at Tampa Bay. New York can wrap up its 13th division championship in 17 years with a victory Tuesday night and another Baltimore loss. … Oakland beat Texas 4-3 to lock up its first playoff berth in six years and pull within one game of the first-place Rangers in the AL West. The upstart A’s need a series sweep to steal the division title, while Texas must win just once to claim its third straight crown.
_ BEASTS OF THE EAST: Washington wrapped up the NL East title when second-place Atlanta lost 2-1 in Pittsburgh. Despite a 2-0 defeat to Philadelphia at home, the Nationals sprayed booze and threw quite a victory party after clinching their first division championship since moving to the nation’s capital from Montreal in 2005. The franchise’s only other division crown came as the Montreal Expos in 1981, a strike-shortened season.
_ NEXT UP: Injured most of the season, longtime Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter is on the mound Tuesday night with a chance to pitch his team into the playoffs. A win at home against Cincinnati or a Dodgers loss to San Francisco earns St. Louis the second NL wild card and a trip to Atlanta for Friday’s postseason opener.
_ TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE: Late-season runs by the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays fell short. Both teams were eliminated from the AL wild-card race when Oakland beat Texas on Monday night.
_ CLOSE TO THE CROWN: Miguel Cabrera went 4 for 5 with a home run to close in on baseball’s first Triple Crown since Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat in 1967. Cabrera’s 44th homer gave him sole possession of the AL lead, breaking a tie with Texas star Josh Hamilton, and the Tigers’ slugger raised his batting average to a league-best .329 _ four points ahead of Angels rookie Mike Trout. Cabrera has 137 RBIs, 10 more than Hamilton, who ranks second.
_ CHASE CHATTER: “It’s getting beyond believable at this point. There’s no reason we should be here at this point. Every single person keeps coming in and stepping up and filling in.” _ Injured pitcher Brandon McCarthy after the rookie-laden Oakland Athletics, who began the season with the lowest payroll in the majors at $53 million, clinched a playoff spot Monday night.
_ IF THE POSTSEASON STARTED TODAY:
AL wild-card playoff: Baltimore at Oakland.
NL wild-card playoff: St. Louis at Atlanta.
AL division series: New York vs. Baltimore-Oakland winner; Texas at Detroit.
NL division series: Washington vs. St. Louis-Atlanta winner; Cincinnati at San Francisco.
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