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Postseason push underway

Detroit Tigers players douse a celebrating Max Scherzer in the clubhouse as the team continues their celebration after clinching the American League Central Division after their win over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, at Comerica Park in Detroit. (Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

It seems like just yesterday it was Opening Day of the baseball season. Every team was tied for first and had a chance to make the playoffs. Now, five months later after a long and grueling 162 games and two Wild Card games, only eight teams remain as the players dream of hoisting the World Series trophy above their heads. Some players can already taste the champagne, while others will end their season with a loss and the memory of what could have been. The Major League Baseball playoffs are finally here.

Facing off against one of the most offensive teams in the American League, the Baltimore Orioles are trying to reach the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1997. Along with a powerful offense, the Detroit Tigers will send out reigning Cy Young award winner, Max Scherzer. The Tigers have made it to the postseason every year for the past three years, losing last year in the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox.

  • Game 1 Starting Pitchers: Orioles Chris Tillman (13-6, 3.34 ERA) v. Tigers Max Scherzer (18-5, 3.15 ERA)
  • Date: Thursday Oct. 2, 4:30 p.m. CDT, TBS
  • Location: Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan

My prediction: Tigers win 3-0 – The Tigers have one of the most offensive teams in the league, scoring 4.67 runs per game. On top of that, the Orioles can’t keep up with Detroit’s pitching staff, which only allowed 4.35 runs per game.

The Kansas City Royals, who claimed a playoff spot by beating the Oakland A’s 9-8 in 12 innings in Tuesday night’s game, will travel to take on the Los Angeles Angels in a five game series, starting Thursday, Oct. 3. For the Royals, it was time to celebrate their first time in the playoffs in 29 years. For the A’s, it was a heartbreaking loss, after blowing a 7-3 lead in the last two innings. The loss capped off a horrific slide in August after holding the best record in the big leagues in mid-August.

  • Game 1 Starting Pitchers: Royals Jason Vargas (11-10, 3.71 ERA) v. Angels Jered Weaver (18-9, 3.59 ERA)
  • Date: Thursday Oct. 2, 8 p.m. CDT, TBS
  • Location: Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Los Angeles

My prediction: Angels win 3-1 – Weaver will shut down the Royals offense in game one. This will give the Angels enough momentum to carry them past the Kansas City Royals, who will have to wait another 25 years to make the playoffs again.

The San Francisco Giants, who beat the Pirates, 8-0 Wednesday night claimed the last playoff spot. After being shut down last year and not having a chance to pitch in the postseason yet due to being shut down for pitching too many innings, Stephen Strasburg will make his postseason debut against veteran and former White Sox pitcher, Jake Peavy. In the nine games the Nationals and Giants played each other in the 2014 regular season, the Nationals won seven of them. The Giants have been very successful recently in the postseason, winning the World Series twice in the last four years.

  • Game 1 Starting Pitchers: Giants Jake Peavy (7-13, 3.73 ERA) v. Nationals Stephen Strasburg (14-11, 3.41 ERA)
  • Date: Friday, Oct. 3, 2 p.m. CDT, FOX
  • Location: Nationals Park, Washington D.C.

My prediction: Nationals win 3-2. The Nationals have dominated the Giants, both at home and away. If the Nationals can jump out to a quick lead, their starters and bullpen should be able to win the game.

In a rematch of the 2013 NLCS where the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2, the Dodgers will look toward their young phenom, Yasiel Puig to provide enough offense to surpass the Cardinals. 2013 National League Cy Young Award winner, who led the league in wins with 21, Clayton Kershaw will square off against 2013 Cy Young Award runner up, Adam Wainwright. The Dodgers and Cardinals met seven times, during the regular season with the Dodgers just edging out the Cards winning four out of seven.

  • Game 1 Starting Pitchers: Cardinals Adam Wainwright (20-9, 2.38 ERA) v. Dodgers Clayton Kershaw (21-3, 1.77 ERA)
  • Date: Friday, Oct. 3, 5:30 p.m. CDT, FOX
  • Location: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

My prediction: Cardinals win 3-2 – The game one matchup will be a pitchers duel that will contain little offense. The Cardinals have struggled with winning on the road. The three of the four lost the Cards suffered to the Dodgers were at Dodger Stadium. If the Cards want to advance to the NLCS, they will have to win on the road.

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