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MLB final four: An overview of division series matchups

MLB final four: An overview of division series matchups

By Jake Ipson, Contributor | Posted - Oct. 10, 2011 at 10:18 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Major League Baseball is down to its final four as the Championship Series begins. Baseball saw three out of the four division series matchups go to a decisive game five, topped off by a pitching duel between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Cardinals won game five 1-0 behind their staff ace, Chris Carpenter. The remaining teams for the American League are the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers, with the Rangers holding home field advantage. In the National League, it comes down to two NL Central teams, the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals, with the Brewers holding the home field advantage.

Baseball’s two highest payroll teams were knocked out in the division series, with the New York Yankees having the highest payroll in baseball at just over $202 million and the Phillies coming in second with a payroll at more than $172 million. The Championship Series now goes to a best-of-seven series.

The first team to make it to the Championship Series was the Texas Rangers. Texas was the winner of the AL West this season. The Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1. The Rays' only win in the series came in game one when they beat the Rangers 9-0.

MLB final four: An overview of division series matchups

Texas is going for its second American League pennant in as many years. The Rays had a better batting average than the Rangers and a lower ERA in the division series, but the Rangers won where it counted, in the win column.

The Rangers go on to face the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers won the season series against the Rangers 6-3. Texas will have three left-handed starting pitchers in the series in C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison. Detroit’s big bats are right-handed hitters, with the biggest being first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who is hitting .222 in the playoffs so far this postseason.

The Tigers beat the New York Yankees to advance to the AL Championship Series, winning 3-2. The Tigers held the Yankees' big bats in check throughout the Division Series. Yankees superstar third baseman Alex Rodriguez was held to .111 batting average, zero home runs and three RBIs. Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira hit .167 with zero home runs and one RBI in the series.

As far as payrolls go, these two teams are in the middle of the pack, with the Tigers coming in 10th in the MLB with a payroll of $106 million and the Rangers coming in 13th with $92 million.

In the National League, the never-say-never St. Louis Cardinals will go to Milwaukee to take on the Brewers. The Brewers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2. This is the first series the Brewers have won since 1982. The Brewers jumped out to a 2-0 series lead before the Diamondbacks came storming back to force the decisive game five.

After barely making it into the playoffs and with some help from the Phillies sweeping the Braves in the final regular season series, the Cardinals went on to beat the NL top-seeded Phillies. The Cardinals and the Brewers know each other well coming out of the same division. These two teams played 18 times this season, with the season series being split 9-9 with the biggest margin of defeat being an eight-run game won by the Brewers on June 10, 8-0.

There is no love lost in this series, as the two teams were involved in a minor brawl in the final regular game these two teams played this season, eventually leading to words being said on Twitter by Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan. As far as their payrolls' rank in the Majors, the Cardinals are 11th with $105 million, while the Brewers are 17th at $85 million.

Over the weekend, the Rangers took game one of the series in a game that saw two different rain delays. Game two had to be delayed as well due to weather. For the second straight series, the Detroit Tigers are involved in a series that has lost a travel day due to bad weather. The Brewers slugged their way to a game one victory in the NL series.

Jake Ipson


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