Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted on Sunday, before the results of the series were known. All standings are accurate as of 10/10.
At Yankee Stadium on Saturday, the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 6-1, sweeping the the American League Division Series (ALDS) and becoming the first team to advance to the Championship Series. The Yankees have now won nine straight playoff games against the Twins, including two ALDS sweeps in two years. Phil Hughes pitched for the Yankees, dominating the Twins with seven shutout innings. The game also included two home runs by outfielders Nick Swisher and Marcus Thames. The Yankees will play in the American League Championship Series on Friday, either playing against the Tampa Bay Rays or Texas Rangers.
The Rays and Rangers enter their fifth game after an exciting fourth game Sunday. After losing the first two games of the series at home and being down the entire game on Saturday during the third game of the series, The Rays started to pull through with five outs left in the game. Tampa Bay won the game 6-3, avoiding being swept by the Rangers. In the fourth game Sunday, the Rays took the win again with a final score of 5-2. Third baseman Evan Longoria and First Baseman Carlos Pena helped bring the team a few runs early on, with a home run and two doubles from Longoria and two extra-base hits from Pena. Although the Rays had the best record in the American League during the regular season, including a 42-39 record at home, they must find their first win of the postseason at home if they want to advance. They have a chance to become the second team to win a division series after being down by two games.
After blowing two chances in Texas to clinch the series, the Rangers will head to Tampa once again. The Rangers also have great reason to keep fighting in this division series: they remain the only team in the MLB that has yet to win a postseason series. They surprised many fans in the first two games with two big wins against the then dominating Rays. The fifth game will be filled with excitement, but the Rays have both the home-field advantage and the momentum in the series; they are favored to move on to play the Yankees — their AL East rivals.
In the National League Division series, the Braves are facing the Giants and the Red are facing the Phillies. Both teams played their third games on Sunday. The Phillies currently lead the Reds 2-0 going into the third game. Despite a strong attempt by the Reds in game 2, including an early four run lead, an additional three batters hit and four errors helped lead the Phillies taking the game with a final score of 7-4.
The Braves and Giants remained tied in the series, 1-1, going into the third game Sunday. San Francisco took the first game 1-0, followed by a close win by the Braves in the second game. The Braves lost their veteran closer, Billy Wagner, who left what may be the last game of his career with an injury to his left oblique.
The Giants have an advantage this division series, especially given their strength in pitching. With a two-game lead, the Phillies will likely take their series, resulting in a National League Championship Series between the Phillies and the Giants.