Sunday, October 3, 2010

Crawford Gets Rays into Tie with Yankees; Stauffer Delivers for Padres; NL West, Wild Card up for Grabs

Players of the Day for Saturday, October 2, 2010

American League

Jumping on the Royals in the first inning, B.J. Upton singled to lead off and moved to third on Carl Crawford's hit. Crawford then stole second before Matt Joyce tripled them both home for a 2-0 lead.

Crawford smashed his 19th homer of the season, a solo shot in the 3rd inning to put the Rays up, 3-0, and eight Tampa Bay pitchers combined for an eight-hit shutout and the 4-0 road win.

The Rays' victory, which snapped a three-game skid, combined with the Yankees' split with Boston at Fenway Park, left the two teams tied for the AL East lead with one game remaining.

Both games in New York's day/night doubled-header with Boston went to an extra inning, with the Yankees winning the day game, 6-5, but losing the nightcap, 7-6.

If the Rays and Yankees finish the regular season tied, Tampa Bay would take the division on the strength of winning the head-to-head season series 10-8. The Yankees would be the wild card.

In that scenario, the Rays would start the best-of-five division series at home Wednesday against Texas. If the Yankees win the division, the Rays would play the AL Central champion Twins beginning Wednesday, with the Yankees hosting Texas in New York.

National League

With some help from the Phillies, San Diego has made the NL West division and wild card race a one-day affair, with everything hinging on their final regular season date at San Francisco.

Tim Stauffer kept the Giants in check for 6 1/3 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits while his teammates scored four runs off Giants' starter Barry Zito. Padres' closer Heath Bell allowed the second Giants' run in the 9th, but still managed to pick up his 47th save as the Padres held on, 4-2.

That left San Diego a game behind the Giants with the division title on the line in the last game of the season, at San Francisco on Sunday. Thanks to the Phillies hammering the Braves for the second straight day, 7-0, San Diego and Atlanta are now tied for the wild card spot.

If the Padres and win and the Braves lose, both the Giants and Padres would advance to the playoffs. The Padres would be the West division winner, due to taking the season series with the Giants, but San Francisco would finish one game better than the Braves, and enter the post-season as the wild card.

If both the Padres and Braves win Sunday, San Francisco would play at San Diego on Monday to determine the West champion and the loser would play at Atlanta on Tuesday for the wild card.

If the Padres and Braves lose, there would be a one-game tiebreaker in Atlanta on Monday night for the wild card.

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