MLB Playoff Wrap: St. Louis Cardinals Aren’t Done Yet

With the end of the regular season just two weeks away, the MLB playoff chase just got a little more tense on Saturday night due to another ninth inning Giants meltdown.

With the St. Louis Cardinals down 2-1 entering the ninth inning, the Giants and their bullpen by committee couldn’t get the job done. Sergio Romo began the inning and got Stephen Piscotty to pop out before allowing a single to left to Jedd Gyorko. Romo exited with a smile on his face.

Beleaguered former “all by himself” closer Santiago Casilla came in with a runner on first and the fans in attendance voicing their displeasure at his appearance. Tommy Pham was inserted as a pinch runner, and promptly stole second base. Casilla, who was brought in for Romo because of Sergio’s poor numbers against Yadier Molina, walked the Cards catcher. Molina was also lifted for a pinch runner in Jose Martinez.

Randal Grichuk singled to center, just out of the reach of Brandon Crawford, tying the game. Casilla was pulled for 31-year-old reliever Matt Reynolds, who surrendered the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly from Kolten Wong.

The Giants, who have not mustered a ninth inning comeback all season, stayed the course on Saturday night.

After surrendering the lead, the Giants seemed to lose their concentration, as Grichuk broke for second, and Buster Posey‘s throw to the bag wound up in center as neither Crawford nor Joe Panik broke to cover. Grichuk advanced to third on the play.

While the Giants still hold one of the two wild card spots, last night’s game was still a very important one. With the Cardinals holding arguably the easier schedule down the stretch, this could have been San Francisco’s chance to bury them four games back instead of letting them climb to within two games of taking their playoff spot.

To make matters worse for the Giants, the New York Mets pulled off an extra-inning win thanks to Curtis Granderson tying the game with a homer in the 11th and winning the thing in the 12th with another jack. The Mets and Giants are tied for both wild card spots. The first team to falter will find themselves occupied with holding off the Cardinals.

The loss for the Giants also evens up their season series with St. Louis at three apiece, and if the two clubs were to meet for the wild card game, the season series would determine home field advantage if they ended the season tied.

The Mets announced on Saturday that Jacob deGrom had been scratched from Sunday’s start and will miss the remainder of the season.

Out in Boston, the Yankees had their hearts broken–again–with a 5-2 Red Sox comeback–again. Yesterday’s game wasn’t as dramatic as Thursday night’s, as Boston climbed back from their three-run deficit before the ninth. This time, it was the bottom of the seventh that doomed New York.

With the Yanks leading 5-4, Adam Warren came on with one on and one out, and surrendered a game-tying single to Mookie Betts. Two batters later and with two outs, Warren bounced a breaking ball that allowed Betts to score from third.

New York has lost four in a row, and are in danger of being swept by the Red Sox in a four-game set on Sunday. More importantly, they find themselves four games back of the Baltimore/Toronto duo who remain tied in the wild card standings after both teams lost. This is another missed opportunity for the Yankees to gain ground. With the O’s and Jays remaining tied, if either team loses, those below them gain ground with a win.

That scenario sounds all well and good, but it comes at an inopportune time for the Detroit Tigers, who are just 1-13 against their weekend opponent and division-leading Cleveland Indians. So of course, they lost.

Even with Carlos Carrasco leaving the game after just two pitches, the Tigers were unable to score any runs, mustering just four hits in ten innings against the Tribe bullpen, ultimately losing 1-0. The bad news for Detroit is that they face Cleveland five more times (including Sunday) in their remaining 14 games. They’ll have to figure out the Indians this year, or hope to win the rest of their other nine games, in order to have a shot at claiming a wild card spot.

With Houston and Seattle playing one another, only one of them could take advantage of the tie atop the wild card standings. For the second straight day it was the Astros, and for the second straight day they did it with a solid performance from their pitching staff. Saturday night saw Mike Fiers go six frames of shutout ball, allowing just three hits while walking one and striking out four. The good news for the Astros is that they are done playing the Rangers, so they actually have a shot to win some of their remaining games against the A’s, Angels and Mariners. Whomever wins more games in their head-to-head match-ups between Houston and Seattle could be the team that challenges for one of the wild card spots.

Entering play today, the Tigers, Astros and Mariners are 3.0 games back of the Jays and O’s in the wild card, while the Toronto and Baltimore are three games back of Boston in the Al East. The Red Sox have four games against the Orioles to lead-off the coming week, which could either give the O’s divisional aspirations, or knock them down entirely. The Sox also close out their season with three at home against the Jays.

The Phillies and Brewers each have elimination numbers of two, and could see those numbers reach zero on Sunday.

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