Playoffs!

Wild Card games begin tonight!

So here we are, October 5th 2012. It’s the first real day of playoff baseball. It has been a long time coming for many of us, especially for my Oakland A’s who haven’t sniffed the playoffs since 2006. Ironically, they are playing the TIgers again, the team who swept them out of the ALCS back in 2006. But that’s a story for another time.

Today is the Wild-Card play-in game. Which to me, is just the playoffs, but for 1 unlucky team in each league, they will be going home after one short game. Seems a little unfair for some teams, but if these teams had won a few games here and there during the season they might not be in this one game scenario.

Could this be Chipper Jones final game?

Let’s first look at the matchup in the National League. The defending Champion St. Louis Cardinals travel to Atlanta to face the Braves, the team they beat out for the Wild Card last season. There is sure to be a fair amount of drama involved in this game, as the Braves are not only looking for revenge, but also a deep run in the playoffs. With the news that Brian McCann would not be starting this game due to his recent struggles, it should be an interesting game. Chipper Jones is on his farewell tour, but his teammates want to postpone his impending retirement. The Braves are sending Kris Medlen to the mound, and why wouldn’t they? He has won their last 23 games that he has started, and since baseball is a game of numbers, thats the best option. For the Cardinals, they may have lost Albert Pujols to free agency last offseason, missed Chris Carpenter all season, and may not be the same team they were back in 2012, but they are ready. They are sending Kyle Lohse to the mound, hoping he can get his first postseason win and shake off his rough postseason last year.

Is Joe Saunders the answer for the O’s?

Over in the American League, the Rangers and Orioles face off in the nightcap. Both the Rangers and Orioles lost out on the division crown by 1 game, but each scenario was different. The Rangers were victims of a slump of the wrong kind in their final 9 games of the season. They held a 5 game lead over Oakland with 9 to play, yet went 2-7 to end the season, including a sweep in Oakland to end the season. Are the Rangers done? Some may think so because postseason baseball is all about momentum and how good you are playing. Right now, conventional wisdom would say the Rangers should and would lose. But let us not forget, they are the 2-time defending American League champions. They just need to step up and play like that or else their season is over. The Orioles lost the Al East crown to the New York Yankees by 1 game. But all season, everyone had counted them out and never gave them a chance at winning. They come into this play-in game, not on the best momentum, but with confidence that they can win this one. While they do not have a prototypical ace on the staff, they possess one of the best managers in Buck Showalter, and his expertise will come in handy. They are definitely the underdogs, but don’t count them out, they will not be playing like it.

Predictions:

Braves over Cardinals

Orioles over Rangers

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