Harrison Bader on Sunday tripled and homered to help the St Louis Cardinals clinch a post-season berth on the final day of the regular season with a 5-2 win over Milwaukee, before the Brewers also earned a playoff spot via some help on the west coast.
St Louis (30-28) are the fifth seeds in the National League and open a three-game wild-card series in San Diego, California, tomorrow. By winning, the Cardinals avoided having to travel to Detroit, Michigan, for two makeup games.
St Louis finished the regular season with 23 games in 18 days as they made up a slew of postponements caused by a COVID-19 outbreak in the clubhouse.
“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. “It was very different, very fulfilling to make the playoffs.”
The Brewers (29-31) locked up the eighth seed and a third consecutive post-season berth after the Padres beat the Giants 5-4 in a game that ended about 15 minutes after St Louis’ victory.
The Giants finished with an identical record to the Brewers, but lost out on a tiebreaker due to an inferior intra-division record.
“It’s fitting for 2020 and everything we went through,” Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich said. “It felt just as good as past years. This year’s a unique one. There’s so many challenges we had to go through on a daily basis behind the scenes, things you don’t deal with in a normal year.”
Milwaukee face the top-seeded Dodgers in Los Angeles in a three-game series that also starts tomorrow.
The Brewers have not had a winning record at any point this season. Milwaukee and Houston are the first teams ever to qualify for the playoffs with a losing record.
“It’s a celebration,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re in the playoffs. That’s how you see it. There’s no reason to apologize for getting into the playoffs.”
Cardinals starter Austin Gomber allowed one run, one hit and two walks, and struck out three over four innings.
Giovanny Gallegos (2-0), Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes combined to pitch the final five innings. Reyes got his first save.
Elsewhere, the Rangers outlasted the Astros 8-4, the Dodgers blanked the Angels 5-0, the Nationals mastered the Mets 15-5, the Marlins thrashed the Yankees 5-0, the Red Sox routed the Braves 9-1 and the Orioles edged the Blue Jays 7-5.
The Reds tamed the Twins 5-3, the Cubs edged the White Sox 10-8, the Diamondbacks downed the Rockies 11-3, the Indians sank the Pirates 8-6, the Rays routed the Phillies 5-0, the A’s mastered the Mariners 6-2 and the Royals tamed the Tigers 3-1.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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