Cincinnati and Cleveland both came a-cropper and had to suffer the harsh fate of their playoff hopes being dashed in a single game at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays respectively.
The two defeated teams will view their seasons differently: for Cincinnati it was a depressing end to a relatively disappointing year, whilst for Cleveland it was a tremendous – and frankly unexpected – achievement even to get as far as they did.
As for the victors, they will march into their Division Series match-ups with a real spring in their step.
The Rays have now come through two win-or-go-home contests, three if you include their must-win 162nd game of the regular season. Although that means they haven’t been able to set up their starting pitching rotation quite as they’d like, they are razor-sharp and will go into their series against Boston believing that they may be able to take advantage of a slightly under-cooked Red Sox team, who will have gone four days without a game before they take the field on Friday.
The St. Louis Cardinals have only had three days off prior to their Game One against Pittsburgh on Thursday night but they also know they are facing a team bursting with energy thanks to their Wild Card game victory. We all expected the Pittsburgh home crowd to be excited about their team being in the playoffs for the first time in over two decades, but the atmosphere generated at PNC Park was incredible and something that will live long in the memory, especially for Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto.
Division Series begin
The eight remaining teams will now do battle in the Division Series. The start times have been announced for the games scheduled for Thursday through Saturday. Friday will be a particularly good evening for us in the U.K., with a couple of games scheduled to start at a convenient time.
All times are listed below in BST. Games in italics take place in the early hours of the following morning (e.g. Game One of Dodgers v Braves is in the early hours of Friday for us) but are listed under the day they start Stateside.
Thursday 3 Oct
22.07. Pittsburgh at St. Louis (Gm1) BBC 5LSX, ESPN
01.37. a.m. LA Dodgers at Atlanta (Gm1) ESPN
Friday 4 October
18.07. Pittsburgh at St. Louis (Gm2) ESPN
20.07. Tampa Bay at Boston (Gm1) ESPN
23.07. LA Dodgers at Atlanta (Gm2) BT Sport2
02.37. a.m. Detroit at Oakland (Gm1) BT Sport2
Saturday 5 October
22.37. Tampa Bay at Boston (Gm2) BT Sport1
02.07. a.m. Detroit at Oakland (Gm2) BT Sport1
The great news is that there is plenty of coverage of the MLB playoffs available in the U.K. this year.
U.K. residents can follow the first game of the 2013 Division Series round via radio coverage on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra, on Digital radio, TV or online.
Subscribers to the BT Sport package are extremely well-served with every game on these three nights being available on one of the three channels.
If you’re an annual MLB.TV subscriber then you can follow all the action online with no further purchase necessary, or if you haven’t subscribed so far then you can buy an International Postseason subscription for $25 (£15.50).