For years fans craved a one-game playoff system to “spice things up” in the MLB Postseason. Well all those fans are getting their wish as the American League and National League Wild Card will be decided in a one-game playoff today. All bets are off and the right to play in the ALDS/NLDS is on the line! Let’s take a look at both of tonight’s games and who I believe will be advancing to the ALDS or NLDS this October!
Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles
For the last two years the Texas Rangers have been crowned as the American League Champions and now they are fighting for the right to play in the ALDS. Quite surprising for the best team in the American League the last two seasons but the team they will be playing is much more of a surprise then the Rangers playing in the Wild Card game. Enter the Baltimore Orioles, the team who made a strong run at the American League East, a division often dominated by the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays. Well that isn’t the case anymore as the Orioles became one of Baseball’s best stories in 2012.
In my opinion this matchup can go either way on Friday night. Baltimore comes into the Postseason stumbling a bit after losing 2-out-of-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays and having a tough time scoring while the Texas Rangers enter losing 3 straight to Oakland & handing the AL West division over to them. But after much thought about this matchup there is one team I believe will be facing the New York Yankees on Sunday in the ALDS.
That team will be the home team, the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are just too good to not be playing beyond the Wild Card game and while the Orioles have been a great story this season their momentum took a huge blow after they failed to really play well against a very good Tampa Bay Rays team. This Texas squad are “Postseason professionals” while this Baltimore team is just getting a taste of Postseason action.
Prediction: Texas Rangers win 4-1
Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Last season the Atlanta Braves lost Game #162 costing themselves a chance at the Postseason via the Wild Card. The team that capitalized on the Braves losing and missing out on the playoffs was the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis would go onto win the NL Wild Card on the final day of the season and the rest was history as the Cardinals went on a magical run towards becoming 2011 World Series Champions.
Now the Braves seek revenge for last season and will try once again to claim a Wild Card spot to advance into the NLDS. While St. Louis will try to play spoiler towards the Braves for a 2nd straight season and try to recapture some of that magical glory towards another World Series Championship. A lot will be on the line and at stake in this one with the right to continue their season.
But for me there is one factor that gives one team the clear advantage over the other and that’s emotional momentum. The St. Louis Cardinals were on an emotional momentum ride last season and were able to defeat the odds in becoming World Champions. The Atlanta Braves are on that emotional momentum ride this season and will be advancing to the NLDS to play the Nationals in my opinion.
Why do I believe this to be true? Because those players in the Braves locker room are on a war path to avenge last season and give Braves legend Chipper Jones the proper send off he deserves by playing in the Postseason. That factor alone will help drive the Braves past the Cardinals in the NL Wild Card game and into the NLDS to take on division rival Washington in what will be a great series to watch. You need to have the “heart of a champion” to keep playing deep in October and the Braves have what it takes to do such.
Prediction: Braves win 3-0
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