On the final day of the six-month MLB regular season, the Rangers were blanked 1-0 at Seattle and settled for a wildcard playoff berth while the Astros won 8-1 at Arizona to boost their bid for a title repeat.
Houston and Texas both finished 90-72 but the Astros owned the tiebreaker and thus the division crown by winning the season series over the Rangers, who sunk to a fifth seed.
Arizona’s defeat also handed Miami the fifth seed in the National League playoffs despite the Marlins’ 3-0 loss at Pittsburgh, leaving Arizona as the sixth and last NL playoff seed.
The Texas loss and Houston victory also ensured Toronto would have the AL’s sixth and final playoff seed.
The results set the stage for Tuesday’s start of the MLB playoffs while the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers own first-round NL byes and Baltimore and Houston enjoy AL first-round byes.
Best-of-three MLB wildcard playoff opening-round matchups will see Toronto at Minnesota and Texas at Tampa Bay in the AL with the NL lineup finding Arizona at Milwaukee and Miami at Philadelphia.
Houston will attempt to earn a fifth trip to the World Series in seven seasons and third title in the same span. Not since the New York Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000 has a club captured consecutive MLB crowns.
Texas needed only a victory at Seattle to clinch the AL West crown, but Mariners pitcher George Kirby struck out seven in six scoreless innings and combined with three relievers to earn the shutout.
Seattle’s Dominic Canzone drove in Eugenio Suarez with a bases-loaded ground out to first for the game’s only run in the fourth inning.
Clinging to a 1-0 lead in the ninth, the Mariners brought in reliever Isaiah Campbell, who surrendered a single to Evan Carter but then struck out Marcus Semien. Corey Seager and Mitch Garver flew out to left field and the Rangers had lost.
By then, the Astros were blowing out host Arizona by eight runs.
Alex Bregman blasted a two-run homer in the first inning to give Houston the lead. Also in the first, Yordan Alvarez scored on a throwing error by Arizona first baseman Emmanuel Rivera and Jeremy Pena singled in a run to double the Astros edge.
Houston’s Kyle Tucker drove in Bregman in the second on a sacrifice fly, then scored himself in the sixth on a triple and a throwing error from Arizona right-fielder Jake McCarthy to give the Astros a 6-0 lead.
Jose Abreu smacked a two-run homer in the seventh to put Houston ahead 8-0 and while Lourdes Gurriel drove in a run in the eighth on a double to avoid a shutout, the Diamondbacks couldn’t make a miracle rally.
Marlins fall to Pirates
Miami opened the door to tumbling into the NL’s bottom playoff seed by managing only three hits and losing at Pittsburgh.
But Arizona’s drubbing allowed the Marlins to back into the fifth spot.
NL East champion Atlanta is a top seed and owns the overall home-field edge throughout the MLB playoffs. The Braves will face Miami or the Phillies in the best-of-five second round.
The NL West champion Dodgers are the second seed and will meet Arizona or Milwaukee in round two.
In the AL, top seed Baltimore awaits the Texas-Tampa Bay winner while the Astros will face Toronto or Minnesota.
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