BOSTON — The New York Yankees have begun their bid for a second consecutive World Series title, but first they must win the division series playoffs that kicked off Tuesday evening. The Yankees lead the series against the Texas Rangers (as of Wednesday).
But this year's baseball playoffs should provide more excitement than last because all eight teams have strong lineups. Imagine a World Series without the Braves and the Yankees. There's a chance it might happen.
Q: What is the playoff schedule? A: The National League and American League divisions are in the middle of a best-of-five-game series. The four winners will move on to the League Championships in a best-of-seven series starting Oct. 12. The final two teams will compete in the World Series Oct. 21.
Q: Of the 30 Major League Baseball teams, which eight made it to the playoffs? A: In the American league, the Cleveland Indians vs. the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees vs. the Texas Rangers. As of Wednesday night, Cleveland is up by one (1-0) and so are the Yanks (1-0). Over in the National League, it's the New York Mets vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves vs. the Houston Astros. Both matchups in the series are tied at 1-1.
Q: Who are some of the top playoff pitchers? A: First, Pedro Martinez of the Boston Red Sox. He is the American League's best pitcher with a 23-4 record and has baseball's lowest earned-run average with 2.07. But there's reason to worry because he was injured in Wednesday's game.
Elsewhere, Randy Johnson of Arizona boasts a 17-9 record, with a 2.48 ERA. Atlanta is also tops with six players who have won 10 or more games this season. And the Houston Astros have Mike Hampton who finished the year with a 22-4 record.
Q: Of baseball's top players, who did not make it to the playoffs? A: Some notables: Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals had the most home runs this year with 65; Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs trailed with 62 home runs, and teammate Mark Grace had the most hits in the 1990s with 1,754.
*E-mail Lisa Leigh Parney at email@example.com
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