Rafael Devers delivered big time for the Boston Red Sox. Aaron Judge did just enough for the New York Yankees. And Buster Posey boosted the San Francisco Giants to the NL West crown, dropping the 106-win Dodgers into a dangerous wild-card game.
In a flash, the Major League Baseball playoff field was all settled Sunday.
No crazy tiebreaker scenarios. No chaos on the final day. And for fans who wanted drama — no problem, that’s on deck.
Yankees-Red Sox to start the postseason in an all-or-nothing October duel at Fenway Park. Sound familiar?
“We’ll be ready,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “It should be fun.”
Boston and New York both scored the winning run in the ninth inning in Game 162 to seal their spots in the AL wild-card matchup Tuesday night, when it’ll be Yankees ace Gerrit Cole against Nathan Eovaldi.
So between now and then, count on seeing endless replays of Bucky Dent’s home run over the Green Monster that lifted the Yankees over Boston in their famed 1978 one-game meeting for the AL East title.
Shut out of this year’s postseason party were Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and his Toronto Blue Jays, along with the Seattle Mariners; they each needed a loss by either the Red Sox or Yankees to have a chance.
“Unfortunately, our fate was in the hands of another team,” said George Springer, who homered twice in Toronto’s win over Baltimore. “We were hoping for something, but obviously it didn’t happen.”
The Giants clinched the NL West with their franchise-record 107th win, routing San Diego 11-4 behind Posey’s three RBIs. They needed all of those victories to hold off the World Series champion Dodgers.
“You’re going to be hard pressed to see another race like this for quite a while,” said Posey, the three-time champion catcher who sat out last season because of COVID-19 concerns.
The Dodgers dropped into the NL wild-card game Wednesday night, when they’ll host the hard-charging St. Louis Cardinals. Pretty neat tilt, too: Max Scherzer vs. Adam Wainwright.
The best-of-five Division Series begin Thursday with a pair of AL games.
It’ll be 76-year-old Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa leading the Chicago White Sox into Houston to match wits with 72-year-old skipper Dusty Baker and the Astros.
Also, 20-year-old rookie sensation Wander Franco and the Tampa Bay Rays will welcome the AL wild-card winner.
On Friday, the NL series start up with Charlie Morton and the Atlanta Braves visiting Corbin Burnes and the pitching-rich Milwaukee Brewers, who are still bidding for their first World Series crown.
Posey and the Giants will play the wild-card winner at Oracle Park.
By design, all 15 games on the last day of the regular season began at roughly the same time. That was set up to create an inning-by-inning, back-and-forth scramble.
And the possibility for a tangle loomed large: The Yankees and Red Sox began the afternoon tied for the two AL wild cards, with Toronto and Seattle a game behind.
Down 5-1 going into the sixth inning at Washington, the Red Sox rallied. Devers launched his second homer of the game, a tiebreaking, two-run drive in the ninth that capped a four-hit, four-RBI performance in a 7-5 win.
At Yankee Stadium, it was scoreless until the ninth. With one out and runners on second and third, Judge hit a liner off reliever Andrew Kittredge’s glove for a single and, remarkably, his first career walk-off hit in the majors.
“I wouldn’t say we exhaled,” Judge said. “We still have a lot of work to do.”
Guerrero hit his 48th home run, tying Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez for the major league lead, and Springer hit a grand slam and a solo shot in a 12-4 romp over the Orioles.
The Mariners’ 20-year postseason drought continued when Shohei Ohtani hit his 46th homer and reached 100 RBIs as the Los Angeles Angels beat Seattle 7-3.
“I was genuinely hoping that the other two games, we get a couple of losses for us and then we go ahead and win, so that was the ultimate goal,” Mariners infielder Kyle Seager said.
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