MLB scores, playoff field: Cardinals, Brewers clinch final postseason spots; Phillies, Giants blow chances

Major League Baseball's 2020 regular season is in the books. Sunday was the final day of the abbreviated 60-game season, and the postseason will commence with the first ever best-of-three Wild Card Series on Tuesday. There was an awful lot on the line Sunday. In fact, there were still 64 -- 64! -- possible postseason bracket permutations in play coming into the day. 

Here's what was clinched Sunday:

  • Cardinals clinched a postseason spot with their win over Brewers (STL 5, MIL 2).
  • Brewers clinched a postseason spot with losses by the Giants (SD 5, SF 4) and Phillies (TB 5, PHI 0).
  • The Twins clinched the AL Central with the White Sox loss (CHC 10, CWS 8).
  • Cleveland clinched the No. 4 seed with its win (CLE 8, PIT 6) and the White Sox loss (CHC 10, CWS 8).
  • The Yankees clinched the No. 5 seed with the Blue Jays loss (BAL 7, TOR 5).

Now here is the final postseason bracket. With 16 teams, this is by far the largest postseason field in MLB history.

mlb-postseason-bracket-1.png

American League
No. 1 Rays vs. No. 8 Blue Jays
No. 2 Twins vs. No. 7 White Sox
No. 3 Athletics vs. No. 6 Astros
No. 4 Cleveland vs. No. 5 Yankees

National League
No. 1 Dodgers vs. No. 8 Brewers
No. 2 Braves vs. No. 7 Reds
No. 3 Cubs vs. No. 6 Marlins
No. 4 Padres vs. No. 5 Cardinals

Sunday's scores

  • Cardinals 5, Brewers 2 
  • Padres 5, Giants 4 
  • Orioles 7, Blue Jays 5 
  • Cubs 10, White Sox 8 
  • Athletics 6, Mariners 2 
  • Cleveland 8, Pirates 6
  • Marlins 5, Yankees 0
  • Rays 5, Phillies 0
  • Reds 5, Twins 3

Now here are four takeaways from the final day of the 2020 MLB regular season.

Cardinals punch their ticket (and Brewers back in) 

Because of the expanded 16-team postseason field, Sunday's clinching scenarios were very convoluted. Sunday's game in St. Louis was very straightforward though: Cardinals vs. Brewers, winner clinches a spot in the postseason. Easy peasy.

The Cardinals took care of business at home and punched their ticket to October with stress-free win. Brewers reliever Freddy Peralta made a backbreaking error in the third inning to give St. Louis the lead. 

With the win, the Cardinals secured the No. 5 seed and will travel to San Diego to take on the Padres in the Wild Card Series. Yadier Molina, in what might have been his final plate appearance at Busch Stadium, grounded into a 5-4-3 triple play. Molina is a free agent after the season and has expressed a willingness to explore the market. 

As for the Brewers, they managed to back into the postseason despite their loss to the Cardinals. The Giants and Phillies both lost as well, allowing Milwaukee to sneak in as the No. 8 seed. They'll go to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers. 

Twins win AL Central

The AL Central was the only division race remaining entering Sunday. The scenarios for the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox were straightforward: the Twins would clinch with a win, while the White Sox needed to win and have the Twins lose for their tiebreaker advantage (intradivisional record) to catapult them to their first division crown since 2008.

Alas, the White Sox fell short in their pursuit by losing to the Cubs. Reynaldo Lopez had a disaster outing for the Pale Hose, allowing six runs while failing to get through two frames. The White Sox did rally late, but it wasn't enough to overtake their crosstown rivals.

As a result, the Twins have repeated as division champions for the first time since 2009-10 and the White Sox fell behind Cleveland in the standings. Minnesota is the No. 3 seed, Cleveland the No. 4 and Chicago the No. 7 in the AL playoff bracket.

Bottom of NL trips over self

The Giants and the Phillies both entered Sunday with a chance at making the postseason and pushing the Brewers out of the tournament. The opportunity was there, as the Brewers lost a lifeless game against the Cardinals, but it didn't matter. 

The Giants had the most direct path to the postseason. With a Brewers loss in tow, all they needed was a victory to clinch a spot.  That proved to be too much of an ask, as the Giants fell 5-4 to the Padres. Austin Slater was called out on strikes to end the game on a pitch that appeared to be well below the zone.

The Phillies needed a win and losses from the Brewers and the Giants in order to make it to October. Unfortunately, the Phillies lost a 5-0 stinker to the Rays that saw staff ace Aaron Nola allow six hits and three runs in 3 2/3 innings. Philadelphia's offense, meanwhile, was stymied by rookie left-hander Josh Fleming, who kept them off the board over six innings. The Phillies went 1-7 in their last eight games of the season. A 2-6 ending would've been enough to send Philadelphia to the playoffs.

Yankees finish as No. 5 seed

The Bronx Bombers avoided the No. 8 seed despite being shut out by the Marlins on Sunday. That's because the Orioles beat the Blue Jays in Buffalo. Had the Blue Jays won, they would've been the No. 5 seed and the Yankees the No. 8 seed. Instead, the Yankees are going to Cleveland as the No. 5 seed and the Blue Jays are going to Tampa Bay as the No. 8 seed.

Short best-of-three series are impossible to predict but I'm guessing the Yankees are happy to avoid the top-seeded Rays. They went 2-8 against Tampa this season, including 1-3 at Tropicana Field. Cleveland is no pushover -- Shane Bieber vs. Gerrit Cole in Game 1 is must-watch television -- but the Rays have had New York's number all season.

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, went a respectable 4-6 against the Rays this season and actually outscored them 48-44. They only went 2-4 at Tropicana Field, however. Toronto is still sorting through its postseason rotation but they'll sent Hyun-Jin Ryu, a bona fide ace, to the mound in Game 1 on Tuesday.

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