What could've turned into a real tangle of a playoff picture became clear Sunday: The wild-card Atlanta Braves will face the San Francisco Giants, while the San Diego Padres are finished.
Major League Baseball was looking at the possibility of a three-team, two-day round of games to sort out all the postseason slots – fun for fans, a scramble for players. Instead, for the first time in four years, the regular season ended with Game No. 162.
The first round was set when Jonathan Sanchez and the Giants eliminated the Padres, 3-0, to win the National League West. Philadelphia and Cincinnati will meet in the other NL Division Series.
“We nailed it,” Giants outfielder Pat Burrell said. “It was looking like it was heading the wrong way. Our guys toughed it out.”
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Tampa Bay clinched the American League East when the World Series champion New York Yankees lost at Boston, 8-4. That sent the Rays back home to open the playoffs against Texas, while the wild-card Yankees will start their best-of-five series at Minnesota.
The action begins Wednesday.
Ken Macha said he’s been told he will not return as manager of the Brewers. Dodgers manager Joe Torre, 70, headed into retirement with a 3-1 win over Arizona. Torre finished with a 2,326-1,997 regular-season record (fifth-most wins all-time), going 259-227 in three years with the Dodgers. Major League Baseball’s average attendance dropped for the third consecutive season, falling 1 percent this year. The 30 teams combined to draw 73.06 million fans, an average of 30,067, STATS LLC said after Sunday’s regular-season finales. Last year, in the midst of a global economic downturn, the teams drew 74.42 million, an average of 30,350. The decade-plus torrent of home runs slowed this year as major league pitchers enjoyed their most dominant season since before the Steroids Era. An average of 1.90 home runs per game were hit, according to STATS LLC, the lowest average since 1.78 in 1993.