The regular season is going to game No. 163 when the Tampa Bay Rays visit the Texas Rangers on Monday night in an all-or-nothing tiebreaker for the second AL wild-card spot. A quick look at baseball’s playoff picture:
CRUZIN’: The Rangers won their seventh in a row Sunday and the Rays also won, forcing the one-game playoff. Rookie Martin Perez starts against Tampa Bay star David Price. Texas gets a boost — All-Star slugger Nelson Cruz will be active after serving his 50-game penalty from Major League Baseball in the Biogenesis drug scandal. Cruz is 9 for 21 with three HRs against Price. This counts as a regular season game, too, meaning the stats could affect some fantasy leaguers.
INDIANS IN: Cleveland claimed its first playoff spot since 2007, beating Minnesota for its 10th win in a row. The Indians averted a three-way tie for the AL wild card, finishing a game ahead of Tampa Bay and Texas. On Wednesday night, rookie Danny Salazar starts the winner-take-all matchup. “From ownership to baseball ops to the clubhouse guys, to be able to stand here and say the Indians are going to the playoffs, I’m so proud of everybody,” first-year manager Terry Francona said.
HE’S OUT: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp will miss the postseason because of swelling in a bone in his sprained left ankle. Kemp has been sidelined a lot with the injury, and hit .270 with six home runs and 33 RBIs. “Without saying it in a bad way, we played all year long without Matt. We went 42-8 without Matt,” manager Don Mattingly said.
FAMILIAR FOES: Cincinnati is at Pittsburgh in the NL wild-card game Tuesday night. It’s a pairing that often occurs in October — the Pirates and Reds met in the playoffs in 1970, 1972, 1975, 1979 and 1990. Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto is 8-2 career at PNC Park; Pirates starter Francisco Liriano is 16-8 this year, but 0-3 in four outings vs. the Reds.
BATTERS UP: The AL Central champion Tigers open the best-of-five division series on Friday at Oakland. Detroit’s hitters didn’t make much of a dent in their final game of the regular season — the Marlins’ Henderson Alvarez pitched a no-hitter against them Sunday.