Rangers win AL West on final day
All of the playoff matchups were l ocked in Sunday on the final day of the Major League Baseball regular season, as Cole Hamels and the Texas Rangers finally clinched the American League West title.
Hamels pitched a three-hitter and Adrian Beltre hit a go-ahead homer as the Rangers beat the Angels 9-2 Sunday, eliminating Los Angeles from playoff contention.
A year after their 95 losses were the most in the American League, two months after they were still eight games out of first place and three days after ensuring themselves a postseason spot, the Rangers wrapped up their sixth division title.
Texas plays its first AL division series game since 2011 on Thursday at Toronto.
Houston is going to the playoffs for the first time in a decade despite the Astros ending the regular season with a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Astros led the AL wild-card race by a game heading into Sunday. They shared a few high fives in the dugout in the eighth inning after clinching it when the Angels lost to Texas.
Pittsburgh clinched home field in the National League wild card game, beating the Cincinnati Reds 4-0 behind J.A. Happ’s stellar outing and Pedro Alvarez’s long homer.
The Pirates (98-64) locked up the right to host the Chicago Cubs (97-65) Wednesday night in a winner-take-all playoff with a victory on the final day of the regular season.
In Los Angeles, Clayton Kershaw struck out seven batters in an abbreviated start to become the first pitcher in 13 years to reach 300 strikeouts, as NL West champion Los Angeles closed the regular season on a five-game winning streak after a 6-3 win over the San Diego Padres.
Kershaw finished with 301 strikeouts and joined former Arizona teammates Randy Johnson (2000-02) and Curt Schilling (2002) as the only pitchers since 2000 to reach 300 strikeouts in a season. Kershaw became the second to do so in Dodgers history; his mentor Sandy Koufax accomplished the feat three times in the mid-1960s.
The Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 for their eighth straight win, but will have to play the NL wild card game in Pittsburgh, while Mark Buehrle failed to become the fifth major leaguer to pitch 200 innings or more in 15 consecutive seasons as the AL East champion Toronto Blue Jays missed out on homefield advantage throughout the playoffs after losing 12-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The New York Yankees stumbled into home-field advantage in the AL wild-card game after a loss by Houston made its 9-4 defeat to the Baltimore Orioles meaningless.
Salvador Perez added to his career-best home run total and Johnny Cueto tossed five solid innings as Kansas City secured home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
In other games, Jacob deGrom looked especially sharp in his abbreviated playoff tuneup as the NL East champion New York Mets blanked the Washington Nationals 1-0, the Philadelphia Phillies avoided a 100-loss season with a 7-2 win over the Miami Marlins, and the Atlanta Braves won doubleheader sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0 and 2-0.
Corey Dickerson hit a three-run homer as the Colorado Rockies downed the San Francisco Giants 7-3, the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Red Sox 3-1, the Miami Marlins edged the Oakland Athletics 3-2 and the Detroit Tigers completed a 6-0 shutout of the Chicago White Sox.
Minnesota Twins’ Torii Hunter poses for a photo with a fan who won his jersey after the Twins lost 6-1 to the Kansas City Royals in a baseball game in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sunday, Oct. 4.
Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki pitches relief during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sunday, Oct, 4. The Phillies defeated the Marlins 7-2.