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The MLB’s Good, Bad & the Ugly for the Regular Season Finale for the 2015 MLB Season. Thanks to ESPN.com,MLB.com & Bleacher Report for stats that are included in this article.
The Good#1: Texas Rangers Clinch the AL West on Sunday: First-year manager Jeff Banister stood in a corner of the Texas Rangers clubhouse watching players celebrate, with champagne spraying all over the place.
A year after their 95 losses were the most in the American League, two months after they were still eight games out of first place and three days after ensuring themselves a postseason spot, the Rangers clinched the AL West title with a 9-2 victory over the Angels on the last day of the regular season.
“Incredible moment, emotional, one I’ll never forget,” Banister said. “They never quit.”
Cole Hamels pitched a three-hitter, his first complete game since Texas acquired the ace left-hander from Philadelphia at the end of July, and team leader Adrian Beltre hit a go-ahead homer in the win Sunday, which eliminated Los Angeles from playoff contention.
Moments after the final out, an AL West championship banner was hanging beyond center field at the ballpark. A championship flag was hoisted on one of the six poles atop the massive video board in right field.
Texas, which lost ace Yu Darvish to Tommy John surgery before the season even started, plays its first AL Division Series game since 2011 on Thursday at Toronto.
The Rangers clinched no worse than a wild card with their 5-3 win in the opener of the four-game series Thursday night before the Angels, the 2014 division champs, won the next two games with ninth-inning rallies.
Texas gave up five runs in the ninth Saturday to lose 11-10 to the Angels as second-place Houston won its third straight game. According to Elias, Texas was the first team in MLB history to lose a potential league- or division-clinching game in the last week of the season after having a lead of at least four runs in the ninth inning.
Texas left no doubt in its 162nd game with a six-run seventh inning that included an infield RBI single by Beltre, who has driven in 33 runs his last 23 games, and a two-run double from Andrus.
Texas has won its last 10 games started by Hamels, traded from the Phillies right after he pitched a no-hitter. The 2008 World Series MVP is 7-1 with Texas and 13-8 overall this season.
The Rangers were eight games out of first place after an 11-inning loss to San Francisco on Aug. 1, when Hamels left with a three-run lead in the eighth inning of his Rangers debut.
Many viewed the acquisition of Hamels, who is signed through 2018 with a club option for 2019, as a move for future seasons. Instead, the Rangers reached the playoffs for the seventh time.
The Good#2: Houston Astros are in the Playoffs in the American League– The Houston Astros are going to the playoffs for the first time in a decade despite ending the regular season with a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
The Astros led the AL wild-card race by a game heading into Sunday. They shared a few high fives in the dugout in the eighth inning after clinching it when the Los Angeles Angels lost to Texas.
Houston finished 86-76 to reach the postseason for the first time since playing the Chicago White Sox in the 2005 World Series. The Astros will play their first American League playoff game Tuesday night, against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Not bad for a team that had three 100-loss seasons before going 70-92 in 2014.
The Bad: Nationals Closer Jonathan Papelbon suspended for remainder of 2015 MLB Season from Last Monday: Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon has been suspended for the rest of the regular season. The club has announced Papelbon dropped the appeal of his three-game suspension for throwing at Manny Machado last week, and the Nationals also suspended him the remaining four games for Sunday’s incident with Bryce Harper.
Here is the team’s statement: “The behavior exhibited by Papelbon yesterday is not acceptable,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “That is not at all in line with the way our players are expected to conduct themselves, and the Nationals organization will not tolerate it in any way.”
Machado hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning of last Wednesday’s game, admired it a little, then was thrown at by Papelbon in the ninth. Papelbon’s first pitch was up and in, his second was down and away to make it seem like he wasn’t throwing at him, then his third pitch hit Machado.
MLB suspended Papelbon three games last Friday and fined him an undisclosed amount for “intentionally throwing a pitch in the head area of Manny Machado.” The Nationals were still mathematically alive in the NL East race, so it made sense for Papelbon to appeal the suspension so he could continue to play.
Washington has since been eliminated from postseason contention, however, and Sunday’s incident with Harper required immediate action. Papelbon was apparently displeased Harper did not run out a popup, the two had words in the dugout, then they got into a physical altercation. Papelbon put his hands on Harper’s throat.
Needless to say, the suspension is well-deserved. Keeping Papelbon away from the club the rest of the season is a smart move by the Nationals. There is nothing to be gained by keeping him in the clubhouse for these final seven meaningless games.
The Ugly: Steve Bartman still can’t come back to Wrigley Field: Steve Bartman will not attend the Chicago Cubs’ first playoff game in seven years despite a campaign designed to raise money to get him there.
A Go Fund Me page started by Keque Escobedo was more than halfway to its goal of $5,000. Reached Friday, a longtime spokesman for Bartman said thanks, but no thanks.
“It’s nice of these people to think of Steve, but he won’t be taking advantage of the offer,” Frank Murtha said. “He’s perfectly capable of attending the game on his own, though he has no intention of being at the wild-card game.”
Bartman hasn’t spoken publicly since becoming part of baseball lore in October 2003. With the Cubs leading the Marlins 3-0 in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the NL Championship Series, Bartman was vilified for putting his hands on a foul ball that appeared to be a potential catch by Cubs left fielder Moises Alou. The Cubs went on to lose the game and blow a 3-2 series lead, and they haven’t won a postseason contest since.
The wild-card game is to be played in Pittsburgh so either way, Bartman will not be there.
Escobedo’s Go Fund Me page, which was created Monday, read: “Lifelong Cubs fan wants to make amends for 2003, let’s make it happen. First we need to find him to get him to the big game. If anyone knows where he is at, tell him we are looking for him. The money would pay for his expenses including his ticket, hotel room, flights and a little spending money.
“If he cannot be found by time of the big game all the proceeds raised will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.”
Murtha said Bartman is happy to hear the money would go to charity.
“Steve is glad the money will go to a good cause and will be cheering on the Cubs as always,” Murtha said.
Below is the 2015 MLB Postseason Match-ups:
AL Wild Card Game: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees October 6(Tuesday) 8pm ESPN
NL Wild Card Game: Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates October 7(Wednesday) 8pm TBS
AL Division Series(on FOX/FS1 & MLB Network) Starts October 8(Thursday)
Kansas City Royals vs. Houston Astros/New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers
NL Division Series(on TBS) Starts October 9(Friday)
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs/Pittsburgh Pirates
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets
|Tues., Oct. 6, 8 p.m. (ET)||Houston Astros at New York Yankees||ESPN|
|Wednesday, Oct. 7, 8 p.m. (ET)||Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates||TBS|
|Thurs., Oct. 8||AL Wild Card at Royals: Game 1||Fox or FS1|
|Thurs., Oct. 8||Rangers at Blue Jays: Game 1||Fox or FS1|
|Fri., Oct. 9||AL Wild Card at Royals: Game 2||Fox or FS1|
|Fri., Oct. 9||Rangers at Blue Jays: Game 2||Fox or FS1|
|Sun., Oct. 11||Blue Jays at Rangers: Game 3||TBD|
|Sun., Oct. 11||Royals at AL Wild Card: Game 3||Fox or FS1|
|Mon., Oct. 12||Royals at AL Wild Card: Game 4*||Fox or FS1|
|Mon., Oct. 12||Blue Jays at Rangers: Game 4*||Fox or FS1|
|Wed., Oct. 14||AL Wild Card at Royals: Game 5*||Fox or FS1|
|Wed., Oct. 14||Rangers at Blue Jays: Game 5*||Fox or FS1|
|Fri., Oct. 9||Dodgers vs. Mets: Game 1||TBS|
|Fri., Oct. 9||NL Wild Card at Cardinals: Game 1||TBS|
|Sat., Oct. 10||Dodgers vs. Mets: Game 2||TBS|
|Sat., Oct. 10||NL Wild Card at Cardinals: Game 2||TBS|
|Mon., Oct. 12||Dodgers vs. Mets: Game 3||TBS|
|Mon., Oct. 12||Cardinals at NL Wild Card: Game 3||TBS|
|Tues., Oct. 13||Cardinals at NL Wild Card: Game 4*||TBS|
|Tues., Oct. 13||Dodgers vs. Mets: Game 4*||TBS|
|Thurs., Oct. 15||NL Wild Card at Cardinals: Game 5*||TBS|
|Thurs., Oct. 15||Dodgers vs. Mets: Game 5*||TBS|