It's Playoff Time! - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

It's Playoff Time!

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The first game of the day features the Cardinals vs. the Braves! The first game of the day features the Cardinals vs. the Braves!

SWXRIGHTNOW.COM: It's October, which means falling leaves, pumpkin flavored everything, and, of course, the Major League Baseball postseason.

The run to the Fall Classic begins today with two wild card matchups.  The first game begins at 2:07 this afternoon and features the St. Louis Cardinals facing off against the Atlanta Braves to decide which team will advance to the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals, who finished the regular season with the best record in baseball at 98-64, on Sunday. The other divisional series in the NL will be between the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants, which starts on Saturday.

The Cardinals won 12 of their final 16 games to earn one of the two wild card spots, including their final game against the NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds. They look to carry that momentum into this afternoon's game against the Braves in hopes of extending their season a little longer and defending the World Series title they captured last year with an exciting comeback against the Texas Rangers.

Atlanta will prove to be a tough opponent as they also finished their season on a high note, going 20-10 since September 1. The Braves also have a little extra incentive to keep winning.  Earlier this season, all-star third baseman Chipper Jones announced this season will be his last, so the more they win, the more baseball their teammate gets to play to finish his career. They will lean heavily on their bullpen to extend their season, as well as outfielder Jason Heyward who finished the regular season with career highs in almost every batting category.

Later this evening, the Baltimore Orioles will clash with the Texas Rangers in the American League wild card game. The first pitch for that game is scheduled for 5:37.

The Rangers struggled a bit at the end of what was otherwise an impressive season. The American League West title came down to the final game of the season between the Rangers and Oakland A's, with the A's walking away the victors, forcing the Rangers to the wild card game. Texas has made an appearance in the World Series the last two seasons, both times coming away disappointed. They look to change that this year and it all starts tonight.

The Orioles also spent a majority of the season in the top spot in their division.  After beating the Tampa Bay Rays on October 2 and seeing that the Red Sox led the New York Yankees 3-1 in the ninth, it seemed to the Orioles that they would be able to hold on to the East and avoid a wild card spot, but the Yankees were able to mount a comeback to force extra innings, eventually beating the Red Sox in the 12th inning and taking control of the AL East. Baltimore looks to turn that disappointment into fuel to make their run to the World Series.

The winner of the game tonight will face the New York Yankees on Sunday in the AL Division Series. The other Division Series in the American League will feature the Oakland A's and Detroit Tigers.

Today's games kick off what is sure to be an exciting few weeks of baseball.

This story was written by Swxrightnow.com writer Colin McQuilkin

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