The Cleveland Indians lost 8-2 to the Washington Nationals on Friday night, which means the Oakland A’s (96-64) and Tampa Bay Rays (96-64) each clinched a spot in the AL wild card. The Cleveland Indians are officially dunzo after their elimination.

Oakland A's Clinch AL Wild Card
Oakland A’s fans celebrate their team advancing to the AL wild card for a second consecutive year. (Image: Ted S. Warren/AP)

The Indians (93-67) previously qualified for the playoffs in each of the last four seasons. A skid in the closing weeks this year ruined Cleveland’s aspirations at a postseason appearance for a fifth season in a row.

“Whatever you can do, I didn’t do it right,” said manager Terry Francona, shouldering the blame for the Cleveland elimination.

AL Wild Card Set: Tampa vs. Oakland

The A’s and Rays will face each other on Wednesday in the AL wild-card game. Even though Tampa Bay and Oakland each clinched a wild-card spot, they’re still playing hard to determine home field in the actual wild-card game. The final season record will determine where they play. The A’s win the tiebreaker (beating the Rays 4-3 over the season), and will host the wild-card game in Oakland if they finish the season with an identical record.

“Oakland is a tough team,” said Tampa Bay outfielder Tommy Pham. “We have to get through them first. We’re going to probably have to get through Houston next. It’s a long road ahead of us, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

The AL wild-card winner will face the Astros in Houston. The Astros won the AL West, and will finish the season with the best record in the American (105-55) League.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WORLD SERIES ODDS:
Houston Astros 2/1
NY Yankees 4/1
Minnesota Twins 12/1
Oakland A’s 18/1
Tampa Bay Rays 20/1

The New York Yankees (103-57) face the Minnesota Twins (100-60) in the divisional series. The Yankees locked up the AL East over a month ago. Despite a bumpy second half of the season, rookie manager Rocco Baldelli led the Twins to an AL Central title.

The Houston Astros are the favorite to win the World Series at 2/1 odds, followed by the New York Yankees at 4/1 odds. The Minnesota Twins didn’t get any respect all season, but they’re currently 12/1 odds. The wild-card teams are long shots on the board. The A’s are 18/1 odds, and the Rays are 20/1 odds to win the title.

Moneyball in the Wild Card

The Oakland A’s wanted to win the division, which seemed like an impossible task with the Houston Astros and their unstoppable rotation.

“This group’s establishing themselves as one of the better teams in the American League,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “Any time you win as many games as we have it means you had another successful season. These guys are still hungry.”

Oakland got hot at the right time and won 96 games. The A’s also boast the third-best home record in the AL at 52-29.

Last year, the A’s won 97 games and secured a 2018 AL wild-card berth. However, the A’s lost to the New York Yankees in a one-game playoff in the Bronx.

Ghost Fans Return?

MLB is having an attendance crisis, with numbers down for a fourth year in a row. In a year in which four teams won 100 games, four teams also lost 100 games. The Tigers are so bad, they won 112 games (and counting). Fans in Detroit responded by not showing up.

Tampa Bay drew the second-fewest amount of fans this season, averaging 15,000 or less. That paltry number is shocking, considering the Tampa Bay Rays clinched the AL wild card. They’re a solid team with one of the cheapest payrolls, and still won 94 games.

Tampa Bay sold out only three games all season, which included Opening Day and two Yankees games. The Rays will only host a playoff game if they can sneak by the Oakland A’s in the wild card.

“Location, location, location” is the key to real estate and owning a business. In that sense, the Rays are losing. The Tampa Rays really play their games in St. Petersburg, which is one of the numerous problems with the franchise and their fan base.

The Rays were mentioned in a bizarre plan to split home games between Tampa/St. Pete and Montreal. Most recently, Caesar’s Entertainment sold the Rio to a real estate group in New York City. A new MLB baseball stadium is among the many rumors about the future of the property. Would MLB let the Tampa Rays bounce for Las Vegas? Or will the new owner of the Kansas City Royals move to team? Of course, there are other rumors about Las Vegas getting awarded an NBA franchise.

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