By Sonny Jones
The one-game wild card wasn’t fair to the participating teams, but it sure was fun to watch. After playing 162 games it came down to nine innings for four teams.
The wild card rounds now are even better after Major League Baseball opted this season to add an extra playoff team in each league and make it best-of-three series.
Today, three of the four home teams are facing elimination after Friday’s opening games. Cleveland was the lone home team to triumph, beating Tampa Bay 2-1 in a pitcher’s duel between the Shanes — Bieber for the Guardians and McClanahan for the Rays — in a crisp 2 hours, 17 minutes.
For the Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets — along with their fans who, undoubtedly, will arrive at their home stadiums a bit on edge — today it’s win and play another game at home Sunday or lose and just go home for the season.
Seattle, which hadn’t been in the playoffs since a few weeks after the horrific 9/11 attacks, shut out Toronto 4-0. Philadelphia silenced the Busch Stadium crowd with a six-run rally in the ninth to beat St. Louis 6-3. San Diego pounded four homers in topping the Mets 7-1.
Today will be a great day to watch baseball and see how many series will come to an end or go to a decisive third game Sunday. Let’s play ball!
Of course, it’s going to be a multi-screen day with loads of college football as well. Hope I can stay awake, although there may need to be a “chair nap” or two in order to make it to the end.
SATURDAY’S PICK TO CLICK
Tyler Glasnow will keep the Rays alive in their season against Cleveland with a solid 5-inning, 7-strikeout effort. The right-hander wasn’t expected to pitch this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last season. However, he’s made two starts in the final two weeks, struck out 10 and allowed only one earned run in 6.2 innings. Tampa Bay will push him a little further in Game 2 with the season on the line.
FRIDAY’S PICK: Yu Darvish was 5-1 with a 1.85 ERA in September pitching for San Diego. He’ll give the Padres a chance to beat the New York Mets in Game 1 with a 6-inning, 6-strikeout, 2-run effort. RESULTS: Darvish did even better. He pitched seven innings, struck out four and yielded only one run in the Padres’ 7-1 rout.
TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY
• 1956 — Don Larsen of the New York Yankees pitches the only perfect game in World Series history, a 2-0 triumph over Brooklyn.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
• DP WORLD TOUR: Spanish Open, 7:30 a.m., GOLF
• MLB PLAYOFFS: Tampa Bay at Cleveland, noon, ESPN2
• FOOTBALL: Texas vs. Oklahoma, noon, ABC
• FOOTBALL: Louisville at Virginia, noon, ACCN
• FOOTBALL: E. Michigan at W. Michigan, noon, CBSSN
• FOOTBALL: Tennessee at LSU, noon, ESPN
• FOOTBALL: Missouri at Florida, noon, ESPNU
• FOOTBALL: Michigan at Indiana, noon, FOX
• FOOTBALL: TCU at Kansas, noon, FS1
• PGA CHAMPIONS: Constellation Furyk & Friends, 2 p.m., GOLF
• NHL: Nashville vs. San Jose, 2 p.m., NHLN
• NASCAR XFINITY: Drive for the Cure 250, 3:30 p.m., NBC
• FOOTBALL: Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh, 3:30 p.m., ACCN
• FOOTBALL: Auburn at Georgia, 3:30 p.m., CBS
• FOOTBALL: Tulsa at Navy, 3:30 p.m., CBSSN
• FOOTBALL: East Carolina at Tulane, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
• FOOTBALL: Utah at UCLA, 3:30 p.m., FOX
• FOOTBALL: Texas Tech at Oklahoma St., 3:30 p.m., FS1
• MLB PLAYOFFS: Seattle at Toronto, 4 p.m., ESPN
• FOOTBALL: Ohio St. at Michigan St., 4 p.m., ABC
• FOOTBALL: North Carolina at Miami, 4 p.m., ESPN2
• PGA: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, 5 p.m., GOLF
• FOOTBALL: Wyoming at New Mexico, 7 p.m., CBSSN
• FOOTBALL: Air Force at Utah St., 7 p.m., FS1
• FOOTBALL: James Madison at Arkansas St., 7 p.m., NFLN
• MLB PLAYOFFS: San Diego at NY Mets, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
• FOOTBALL: Clemson at Boston College, 7:30 p.m., ABC
• FOOTBALL: Kansas St. at Iowa St., 7:30 p.m., ESPNU
• FOOTBALL: Washington St. at Southern Cal, 7:30 p.m., FOX
• FOOTBALL: Notre Dame vs. BYU, 7:30 p.m., NBC
• FOOTBALL: Florida St. at N.C. State, 8 p.m., ACCN
• FOOTBALL: Texas A&M at Alabama, 8 p.m., CBS
• MLB PLAYOFFS: Philadelphia at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2
• FOOTBALL: Fresno St. at Boise St., 9:45 p.m., FS1
• BOXING: Sebastian Fundora vs. Carlos Ocampo, 10 p.m., SHO
• FOOTBALL: Hawaii at San Diego St., 10:30 p.m., CBSSN
• FOOTBALL: Oregon St. at Stanford, 11 p.m., ESPN
• FORMULA 1: Japanese Grand Prix, 12:55 a.m. (Sunday), ESPN2