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Yankees, Rays now put focus on division

Sep 29, 2010, 1:53 AM EDT

It was a dramatic night in the MLB playoff races on Tuesday, with the Cincinnati Reds clinching the NL Central for their first postseason trip since 1995, and the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays also assuring themselves places in the postseason, eliminating the Boston Red Sox in the process.

The AL teams are locked up, with the Twins and Rangers joining the Yankees and Rays in the field. And with the Reds joining the Phillies in the NL, six of the eight playoff spots are accounted for.

So what’s left? Let’s break it down:

AMERICAN LEAGUE: Who plays who?

Now that they have both secured a playoff berth, the Rays and Yankees can relax, right? Perhaps not. Remember that the team that wins the AL East will receive home-field advantage in the ALDS and likely play the Texas Rangers (87-70) who are on their way to finishing with the worst record among the AL playoff teams.

The team that settles for the wild-card spot will then have to play the Minnesota Twins, who as a division champ will hold the home-field edge even if the wild-card team has a better record. And remember that Minnesota is 52-25 in its first season at Target Field.

So the AL East title should matter to both teams.

“We still have aspirations of winning our division and trying to get homefield advantage,” Joe Girardi told the Associated Press. “I’ve got to pick my spots to rest guys.”

As far as head-to-head records this season, the only team with a distinct advantage over another appears to be the Twins against the Rangers, as Minnesota has beaten Texas seven times in 10 games. Those teams can’t meet until the ALCS, however. Here are the head to head matchups of possible first-round foes:

Yankees 6, Twins 4
Yankees 4, Rangers 4
Rays 5, Twins 3
Rays 4, Rangers 2

NATIONAL LEAGUE: It’s wild in the West

At an NL-best 94-64, the Philadelphia Phillies have guaranteed themselves home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, so look for Charlie Manuel to concentrate on keeping his players sharp while resting his regulars and setting up his rotation for the playoffs. This could bode well for the Atlanta Braves, who finish the season with a series against Philly. Other than that, not much is guaranteed in the National League at this point.

Like the Phillies, the NL Central champion Reds are also in. But aside from that there is much left to be decided, with the Giants and Padres battling for the NL West, and with whoever loses out on that race fighting the Braves for the NL wild card.

If the wild-card team comes from the NL West, they will face the Phillies in the first round. But if the Braves win the wild card, the Phillies will face either the Reds or the NL West champs, whoever has the worst record. Seeing as how the Braves (89-69), Reds (88-69), Giants (89-68) and Padres (87-70) are all within two games of each other, you might want to hold off on reserving any flights for a few more days.

To get a full breakdown on the remaining playoff races, click here.

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  1. Jonny5 - Sep 29, 2010 at 8:07 AM

    Good break down Bob.

  2. Kim in Maine - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    Don’t forget – the Yankees have to play the Red Sox in a weekend series at Fenway……AND WE ARE OUT FOR REVENGE….I see a wild care berth in the future for the Evil Empire!!

  3. Tracy Hanks - Sep 29, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    Correction…the Yankee’s and the Ray’s joined the Twins and the Rangers in the playoff race… Twins and Rangers had already won their divisions. How about reporting the facts…that would be novelty in any reporting these days.

  4. Dennis O'Fletcher - Sep 29, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    Oh, thanks for ‘correcting’ us genius Tracy Hanks. Maybe if you used your vaunted intelligence you would realize that if the Yanks or the Rays were in the Twins or Rangers divisions they would have been in long ago due to their superior records, moron.
    Here’s a correct headline for you: “Village Idiot Hanks sets Reporter Straight on AL playoffs”

  5. mightymike1250 - Sep 29, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    Yes, but the Yankees knocked the Red Sox out of the playoffs. And for Yankees fans, that’s sweeter than a World Series victory.

  6. mightymike1250 - Sep 29, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    Can we have a discussion without calling people names?

  7. Jomarie - Sep 29, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    Sure it is. I think everyone believes that. Let’s see beat the Red Sox or World Series victory. Sounds like a question to me.

  8. Tracy Hanks - Sep 29, 2010 at 10:44 PM

    It’s okay since I am in what some people would vaugely describe as a village, I will continue to defend the constitution and Dennis’s first amendment right to call names. I am sure he is familar with that right. But if the ” Twins or the Rangers were in the Yanks and the Rays division…” I guess Dennis feels qualified to change Baseball and geography… maybe he is in or should be in politics. Sleep safe.

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