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Cardinals defy odds to book their spot in MLB’s expanded playoffs

Harrison Bader blasted a home run as the St. Louis Cardinals clinched a playoff spot with a 5-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, who also punched their ticket to the postseason party on Sunday.

Bader scored twice and hit a triple for the Cards, who will face the San Diego Padres in a best-of-three National League wild-card series, beginning Wednesday. 

With the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants also losing their final regular season games, the Brewers snuck into the number eight seed spot in the NL, setting the field for MLB’s 16-team 2020 expanded playoffs in the pandemic-shortened season.

The Brewers made the playoffs despite finishing with a 29-31 record.

Milwaukee and the American League’s Houston Astros are the first teams ever to make the playoffs with a losing record. The Brewers have the unenviable task of facing the top-seeded Los Angeles Dodgers in a best of three which starts Wednesday.

The Brewers haven’t had a winning record at any point this season. “There’s no reason to apologize for getting into the playoffs,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell.

The 2020 season was limited to 60 games for each team because of the coronavirus pandemic which also caused 45 game postponements.

This will be a postseason like never before in American baseball. Besides having two teams with losing records, the games will be played without fans in neutral site ballparks after the first round. 

The World Series will be played at the Texas Rangers’ new state-of-the art ballpark in Arlington, near Dallas.

The Cardinals finished with a 30-28 record. St. Louis completed the regular season with 23 games in 18 days as it made up a number of postponements caused by a COVID-19 outbreak among the players on the team.

“You had to throw some of the expectations out the window not knowing what to expect after taking those couple weeks off and all those doubleheaders and so many new guys,” Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said.

The Brewers earned their third straight playoff berth.

The Giants’ loss meant they finished with the same record as the Brewers, but they lost out on a tiebreaker due to an poorer intradivision record.

“It’s fitting for 2020 and everything we went through,” Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich said. “This year’s a unique one.”

A half dozen Los Angeles pitchers threw a three-hit shutout to power the Dodgers to a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.

A.J. Pollock homered twice to propel the Dodgers, who finished with the best record in American baseball at 43-17.

The Angels finished with a 26-34 record and missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. The team then sacked general manager Billy Eppler.

The  New York Yankees lost six of their last eight regular-season games, which included series losses to Toronto and Miami, but they still staggered into the wild-card round. 

New York’s leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu won the AL batting title on Sunday, finishing with a league best .364 batting average.

Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto became the NL’s youngest batting champion, as the Nats finished the season with a 15-5 win over the  New York Mets.

The 21-year-old Soto surpassed Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser as the youngest to take a batting title. The 22-year-old Reiser finished the 1941 season hitting .343.

But Nationals failed to  make the playoffs one season after winning the World Series.

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