Here are five interesting stories in baseball this week:
Wild-card matchups set
Since 2010, the Giants have been successful in even-numbered years, winning the World Series in ’10, ’12 and ’14.
With a 7-1 victory over the rival Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday at AT&T Park, San Francisco earned a chance to try to continue that pattern.
The Giants send ace Madison Bumgarner to the mound to face Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets at Citi Field on Wednesday in a one-game National League Wild-Card playoff. The Mets won the season series 4-3.
The last time the Giants reached the postseason, Bumgarner pitched a shutout over the Pirate in Pittsburgh in the wild-card game and later became the World Series MVP. So another cross-country flight to begin the playoffs was fine by them.
“I don’t think it bothers anybody that we go on the road to win these games. It’s actually a lot of fun,” first baseman Brandon Belt said. “With Bumgarner on the mound, we’re going to have a good shot.”
In the American League, the Toronto Blue Jays will host the American League East rival Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. Toronto won the season series 10-9.
Boston to retire Ortiz’s number
The Boston Red Sox sent David Ortiz off before his final regular-season game.
Next year, the team will hang his No. 34 from the Fenway facade among the team’s retired numbers.
During a pregame ceremony Sunday attended by Red Sox greats like Carl Yastrzemski and teammates from Ortiz’s three World Series championships, the ballclub honored the soon-to-retire slugger by draping a Dominican flag over the Green Monster and bringing out his father to join him on the diamond.
Ortiz broke into tears when he mentioned his late mother before gathering himself to thank his teammates and members of the organization. He also thanked the fans and the media, and Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina, who were both in attendance.
“He changed the Red Sox,” Manfred said before the game. “He was a key part of the amazing three wins here. It changed the course of the franchise.
“But I also think that he changed the city. He became a symbol of the strength of the city and will always be remembered for that.”
Ortiz announced in November on his 40th birthday that this would be his final year, setting up a season-long farewell tour.
Turner turning it over to SunTrust
The Atlanta Braves played their final game at Turner Field on Sunday, ending a run that lasted a mere 20 seasons with a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Next season the Braves will play at SunTrust Park, a new stadium in the suburbs, while Turner Field will carry on as the downsized home of Georgia State’s football team.
A sellout crowd of 51,220 turned out for the occasion, including former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, and the all-time Turner Field team, which was honored before the game.
One by one, they trotted in, beginning with Chipper Jones. He took his former position at third base, followed by shortstop Rafael Furcal, second baseman Marcus Giles, first baseman Adam LaRoche, left fielder Brian Jordan, center fielder Andruw Jones, right fielder Gary Sheffield and catcher Javy Lopez. Also honored was Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox.
Finally, the pitchers emerged – three of them. Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz strolled out together. They anchored the team through much of its unprecedented run of 14 consecutive division titles, the last nine of which came after the move to Turner.
Teixeira hanging up his cleats
Mark Teixeira hugged one teammate at a time as he walked off the field, initially near his familiar spot at first base and then right down the line in the New York Yankees’ dugout.
He tipped his cap to the crowd of 33,277 as the fans offered a standing ovation, patting his chest with his mitt and saying, “Thank you.”
And with that, one of baseball’s most prolific switch-hitters said goodbye.
Teixeira was honored by the Yankees during a 12-minute ceremony Sunday prior to his final major-league game. He went 0 for 3 in a 5-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Drafted fifth overall out of Georgia Tech by the Texas Rangers in 2001, Teixeira also played for the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels. He finished his career with the same amount of hits as games played (1,862). He batted .268 with 409 home runs and 1,298 RBIs, joining Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, Chipper Jones and Carlos Beltran as the only switch-hitters in major league history to reach 400 homers.
Prado gets chance to manage
Martin Prado won’t soon forget the lessons of this year’s regular-season finale.
The Miami third baseman served as the Marlins’ manager in Sunday’s 10-7 loss to the Washington Nationals, continuing a tradition actual manager Don Mattingly was a part of while working under Joe Torre in New York and Los Angeles, and later when he managed the Dodgers.
“Sometimes you question managers making decisions,” Prado said. “Now that I was in that spot for only one game, I don’t know if I can do it. There’s so much stuff. The games speed up and there’s so many things you have to be aware of. I won’t ever say anything bad about any manager.”
“It was good,” Mattingly said. “He had them fighting the whole way. I thought he did a nice job. I thought the guys did a great job of just continuing to play.” Miami went 79-82 this season.
Prado went 1 for 2 before removing himself from the game in the middle of the third inning. The 11-year veteran finished the year batting .305 with eight homers and 75 RBIs.
He was also caught stealing third base to end the first inning.
“It was a bad idea with two outs. You have to make sure you steal third and not be out,” Prado said. “There was a lot going in through my head. It was a bad decision by the manager.”
Compiled by Noel Harris with information from The Associated Press