Let's sum things up quickly here: Everyone in the wild-card races who had to win did win. Except the Toronto Blue Jays, who are suddenly in danger of a pretty epic collapse. Our current wild-card odds:
Orioles: 93 percent
Blue Jays: 50 percent
Tigers: 42 percent
Mariners: 16 percent
Results needed for four-way tie: Orioles 0-2, Blue Jays 1-1, Tigers 2-1, Mariners 2-0.
Mets: 99 percent
Giants: 73 percent
Cardinals: 28 percent
Results needed for three-way tie: Mets 0-2, Giants 1-1, Cardinals 2-0.
1. Happy Hollidays: The St. Louis Cardinals acquired Matt Holliday from the A's back in July 2009 for three guys who never did anything in Oakland and he hit .353/.419/.604 for the Cardinals that year, helping them to the playoffs. They re-signed him as a free agent that offseason to a seven-year, $120 million contract, a deal questioned by some at the time given that it would begin with Holliday's age-30 season. For a conservative, mid-market franchise, it remains the largest contract in team history, one the Cardinals have had no regrets over as Holliday has helped them to playoff spots the past five seasons and performed well throughout the deal (although he has missed time the past two seasons). The Cardinals hold a $17 million team option for 2017, but notified Holliday and announced earlier Friday they wouldn't pick it up.
"While I'm disappointed this could be it here in St. Louis," Holliday said in a statement he issued, "I understand that it might be time to move on."
The Cardinals, however, wanted to give Holliday one final ovation before the home fans. He had been out since Aug. 11 because of a broken thumb and isn't fully recovered, but they activated him for this final series, in case an appropriate situation arrived for him to pinch hit. It came Friday night, with a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning and wouldn't you know, this happened:
Unbelievable. Matt Holliday, still recovering from a broken finger, comes up in a farewell at-bat and homers. #stlcards— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) October 1, 2016
Madison Bumgarner would beat the Dodgers for the first time in five starts this season later in the night, so the Cards remain a game behind the Giants for the National League's second wild card. Good news, however: Clayton Kershaw starts for the Dodgers on Saturday.
2. Big Papi does it again, stuns Blue Jays. Let's just say it's a good thing Canada won the World Cup of Hockey because I don't think the country could have a taken a loss in that tournament and a Blue Jays collapse. The Jays led 3-1 in the seventh inning Friday when they suffered another bullpen meltdown. David Ortiz capped off the four-run rally with a two-run home run off Brett Cecil -- tying him with Edwin Encarnacion for the AL RBI lead at 127 -- and Craig Kimbrel fanned Dioner Navarro with the tying runs on base to wrap it up. The Jays now fall behind the Orioles (who beat the Yankees 8-1) and sit just a half-game ahead of the Tigers for the second wild card.
Time for a players only meeting, a team prayer, a wife swap, a goat sacrifice, something.— Blue Jays Bat Boy (@bluejaysbatboy) October 1, 2016
The Jays began the week 1½ games up on the Orioles and three games up on the Tigers, with playoff odds better than 90 percent. They've lost four of five as the bullpen has blown leads of 3-2 in the ninth inning Monday (Jason Grilli), 2-1 in the ninth Wednesday (Roberto Osuna) and then this one (Joe Biagini and Cecil) and their odds have sunk to 51 percent. Longtime Jays fans are suddenly having nightmares of 1987, when the Blue Jays blew a 3½-game lead in the AL East by losing their final seven games.
3. Jump on my back, boys. Miguel Cabrera blasted home runs Nos. 37 and 38 in the Tigers' 6-2 victory over the Braves. In his past three games, all Detroit victories: 8-for-11, four home runs, 11 RBIs.
Last 12 plate appearances for Miguel Cabrera:— Jason Beck (@beckjason) October 1, 2016
Single off wall
💪 x 4⃣ pic.twitter.com/RTtyNfXNWP— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) October 1, 2016
Oh, Miggy in September: .347/.443/.694, 10 home runs, 27 RBIs. That'll work.
4. Robert Gsellman for Cy Young! The Mets' magic number for a wild card is down to one as the rookie right-hander pitched another gem in a 5-1 victory over the Phillies. On Aug. 19, the Mets were 60-62 and 5½ out of the wild card. Their playoff odds were about 10 percent -- but that was before knowing Jacob deGrom would make only two more starts the rest of the way and Steven Matz none. They've gone 26-12 since then, the best record in the majors, while outscoring opponents 206-135. It really has been a remarkable run to get here given the state of the rotation and the contributions of the unheralded Gsellman and Seth Lugo (a combined 9-2, 2.44 in 14 starts).
OK, all that was really an excuse to run this highlight:
5. Rangers clinch home-field advantage in the AL. I'm only disappointed it didn't come in a one-run game. Yu Darvish fanned 12 in six innings of a 3-1 win over the Rays and the Rangers will play the wild-card winner. The Red Sox (93-67) hold a half-game lead over the Indians (92-67) for home-field advantage in the other series.