NEW YORK – Triple Crown contender Christian Yelich and the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. Nolan Arenado and the big-hitting Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium.
October baseball is about to begin with Game No. 163 on Monday.
Two tiebreakers on the same day for the first time in major league history. Both to divvy up divisions, too.
“It’s interesting that baseball is such a perfect game in some ways that it takes 162 to not decide anything,” Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs begin the doubleheader drama when they host Milwaukee for the NL Central crown. Later in the afternoon, Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler is set to start when Los Angeles faces Colorado for the NL West title.
There’s a catch, though.
All four teams are already assured playoff spots, either as a division champ or wild card. The Dodgers, Rockies, Brewers and Cubs knew that going into Sunday, the final scheduled day of the regular season, and then romped over their opponents. The Dodgers beat the Giants 15-0 while the Rockies routed the Nationals 12-0. The Cubs picked up a 10-5 win over the Cardinals and the Brewers crushed the Tigers 11-0.
So, it means this: These matchups are not one-and-done.
Never before has a team that lost a tiebreaker got to keep playing. Bucky Dent’s pop-fly homer finished off the Red Sox in 1978. Matt Holliday slid home — and maybe touched the plate — to eliminate San Diego in 2007. David Price pitched Tampa Bay past Texas in 2013 to win the most recent matchup.
This time, they’re all in. But, there’s still a big difference between winning the division or going into the postseason as a wild card.
The Brewers-Cubs winner gets to start the best-of-five Division Series at home on Thursday against the wild card winner. The Colorado-Los Angeles winner also begins the NLDS at home versus Atlanta.
“It’s a game where obviously it’s not do-or-die, but I think that it’s a must-win game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after a 15-0 rout in San Francisco.
“To win the game and get a couple days off, to host the Division Series is very important,” he said.
The tiebreaker losers play Tuesday at the NL Central’s site to determine who advances.
The AL playoff scenario is set.
Oakland and the Yankees hold the wild-card game Wednesday night in New York and the winner goes to Boston on Friday. Defending World Series champion Houston opens the ALDS against Cleveland.
In Other Games
Red Sox 10, Yankees 2
Twins 5, White Sox 4
Orioles 4, Astros 0
Mariners 3, Rangers 1
Pirates 6, Reds 5 (10)
Mets 1, Marlins 0
Rays 9, Blue Jays 4
Indians 2, Royals 1
Phillies 3, Braves 1
Padres 4, Diamondbacks 3 (10)