Entering the final day of September, and the penultimate day of the regular season, five postseason slots were open. The Miami Marlins got one of them; defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates to join the October party. Even so, four spots remained. However, a funny thing happened. All of the other remaining slots? All filled, bit by bit. I thought we would see one, maybe two slots still open entering the final day, but nope. The remaining postseason slots are all filled in, with some slight positioning still left to be decided. More on that later.
Here are the four other teams who all clinched postseason berths on the penultimate day of the regular season:
When the Texas Rangers hired Bruce Bochy as their manager, I knew they'd improve big time. After all, Bochy knows a little bit about success--he managed the San Francisco Giants to three World Championships, with the first one coming against the Rangers in 2010. The Rangers acquired a lot of big time players, and ended up with Max Scherzer in a trade with the New York Mets this season, and it resulted in the team winning games left and right. A winning surge moved the Rangers into the American League West lead, and they entered this final weekend with a chance to clinch a postseason spot with one win against the Seattle Mariners. They were shut out in the first game, but Game #2 saw the Rangers win, 6-1, to lock up their first postseason appearance since 2016.
For the Rangers, this is their 9th postseason appearance, but it all comes in the last 28 seasons. The team debuted as the second Washington Senators team in 1961, playing 11 seasons in Washington, D.C. before moving to Arlington in 1972 and becoming the Texas Rangers. After years of mediocrity (or worse), the Rangers didn't reach their first postseason until 1996, winning the first of three AL West titles in four seasons, but couldn't get past the Division Series. The Rangers wouldn't win a postseason series until 2010, and that was the year that they finally won their first of back-to-back pennants.
Toronto Blue Jays
As a result of Seattle's loss, the Toronto Blue Jays (who lost in extra innings earlier in the day to the Tampa Bay Rays) are postseason bound for the second straight year. The back-to-back postseason appearances comes after narrowly missing out in 2021, as the Jays were eliminated from a tight Wild Card race on the final day of that season. This year is Toronto's tenth postseason appearance in franchise history, and their third set of back-to-back appearances. Their longest postseason streak is three years from 1991-93, which included their back-to-back World Championships.
The Jays are looking to avenge their embarrassing Wild Card Series loss from the previous year. They faced the Seattle Mariners in that series, and after they were shut out in Game One, the Jays took an 8-1 lead in Game Two, but ended up losing 10-9, bringing their 2022 season to a premature end. This year, someone other than Vladimir Guerrero, Jr needs to step up, because it seems like he's the only dependable player on this team.
The Miami Marlins' clinch left just one spot left in the National League, and the Arizona Diamondbacks had a chance to get that. All they had to do was win or have the Cincinnati Reds lose, and during their game against the Houston Astros, the Reds were getting blasted, big time, by the last place St. Louis Cardinals. The game went final, with the Reds losing 15-6, and that resulted in the Diamondbacks officially being in the postseason while their game was still in progress. Also as a result, the Chicago Cubs were eliminated, despite their 10-6 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Diamondbacks are in their 26th season, debuting in 1998 and winning their first NL West title in 1999. 2001 was their big year, as the Diamondbacks--in only their fourth season--won the World Series; a seven-game thriller over the New York Yankees. After being swept in the Division Series a season later, the postseason series were very few and far in between for Arizona. Three postseason appearances in the last 20 seasons; the last one taking place in 2017. Sports in Arizona has been suffering a lot lately. The Suns continue to get in their own way, the Cardinals are a racist train wreck, and the Coyotes have been struggling on the ice while playing in a college arena. At least they have the Diamondbacks continuing to be the state's gold standard.
I mentioned the Diamondbacks were playing against the Astros. Thanks to their in-state rivals, all Houston had to do was hold on to their 1-0 lead to get the last overall remaining spot. The door was shut in the ninth, and as a result, the defending champs return to the postseason to defend their title. In addition, Houston's victory brought an end to the Seattle Mariners' season; a disappointing final two weeks being the cause of their demise.
For the Astros, this is their seventh straight postseason appearance, and their eighth since joining the American League in 2013. They've reached the ALCS or further in all but one of their eight American League postseason appearances (2015 was the only year they failed to reach the ALCS). Six straight ALCS appearances, four pennants, and two* World Series Championships (yes, 2022 was different, but the asterisk on 2017 remains). No team has won back-to-back World Series since the Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000. Houston looks to break that trend.
So the 12 postseason teams are locked in, but a few things still need to be settled. In the American League, the Baltimore Orioles are the #1 seed. Whoever wins the AL West will be the #2 seed. The Minnesota Twins are the #3 seed. The Tampa Bay Rays are the #4 seed. #5 is still up for grabs between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Houston Astros. Texas needs a win or a Houston loss to take the AL West. Houston needs a win and a Texas loss to take the AL West. Regarding tiebreakers, Houston won the season series over Texas, who won the season series over Toronto, who won the season series over Houston. If Texas and Toronto win, the former will be at #2, while Toronto will be #5 and Houston #6. Texas can't drop lower than #5, but either Toronto or Houston could end up at #6.
In the National League, it's only #5 and #6 that are up for grabs between the Miami Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks, as the other four seeds are locked in. The Brewers and Phillies will host Wild Card series. A Miami win would send them to Philly, while the Diamondbacks would head to Milwaukee. A Diamondbacks win and a Marlins loss would send the former to Philly, unless MLB decides to have the Marlins finish that suspended game against the Mets. If they do, Arizona would need the Marlins to lose that game, because a win would put them in a tie in the standings, and the Marlins hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The 2023 MLB postseason begins on Tuesday, October 3.