The Bronx, NY – On a chilly, rainy night at the Stadium, the Yankees finally won a game and punched their ticket to the playoffs. The Bombers had a rough week, losing three of four to the Boston Red Sox. But they won the last game and clinched a Wild Card berth.
Now the Yankees can rest their elderly lineup and their overused bullpen to get ready for Tuesday’s Wild Card Game. They need the rest. There will be plenty of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders in the lineup this weekend as the Yankees close out the season with a three game set in Baltimore. The Yankees join the Mets in the playoffs. The Amazin’s clinched last week and have been in cruise control since. Their only concerns this past week have been staying healthy and setting up their rotation to make a deep playoff push.
This is a far cry from everyone’s expectations going into the season. Most people expected the Mets to be better than the Yankees, but nobody picked either team to make the playoffs. The Las Vegas over/under for Yankee wins in March was 81.5. The Yanks won their 87th game last night, which just happened to be their 10,000th win all-time. They were supposed to finish last in the division. They finished as runners up after the Toronto Blue Jays went on a tear the second half of the season and won the division comfortably.
In Queens, early expectations this season of the great young pitching staff were tempered by, well, this being the Mets. The Amazin’s got off to a great start this season and did well enough to force Real Sandy Alderson’s hand at the trade deadline. The Mets needed bats. He brought in bats. After that, the Mets ran away with the NL East as the Washington Nationals became more dysfunctional than Congress.
This is the first time since 2006 that the Yankees and Mets both made the postseason. That year the Yankees lost to the Tigers in the Division Series and the Mets fell to the eventual champion St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. There could be a rematch of that Championship series this year if the Mets get past the Dodgers and the Cards beat the winner of the Pirates-Cubs Wild Card game.
The Mets and Dodgers have identical records with three games to go. Both teams will want to win this weekend to seal home field advantage in the Division Series. They’ll have to strike a balance between trying to win and making sure the teams are well rested and ready for the playoffs.
The Yankees will need a win or an Astros loss to seal up home field advantage in the Wild Card game. Masahiro Tanaka will take the mound after returning from a hamstring injury this week. He had a rough first inning against the Red Sox this week after a long layoff. But he settled after that and restored some confidence that he is the guy the Yankees want on the mound in the do-or-die Wild Card game.
There’s plenty left to decide this weekend in baseball so keep watching and get ready for a wild playoff ride next week.