CLEVELAND — It's official: We finally know who the Guardians will face in the Major League Baseball postseason.
The American League Central Division champions will host the Tampa Bay Rays in this weekend's AL Wild Card Series. Tampa wrapped up the AL's No. 6 seed with a 6-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox Tuesday night coupled with the Seattle Mariners' victory over the Detroit Tigers, earning them a date with third-seeded Cleveland.
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Under MLB's new system, six teams — three division winners and three wild-cards — now make the playoffs in both the American and National Leagues. While the Guardians won their division, their current record of 91-70 is below that of the West champion Houston Astros (104-56) and the New York Yankees (99-61) out of the East, relegating them to the wild-card round against the worst of the three wild-card teams. Houston and New York will each get a bye to the division series.
The Rays, who clinched their fourth consecutive postseason berth last week, stand at 86-75 behind the Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. They won the AL pennant just two years ago and are led by slugging outfielder Randy Arozarena (20 home runs, 32 stolen bases) and ace pitcher Shane McClanahan (2.54 ERA, 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings).
In six regular-season meetings in 2022, the Guardians bested the Rays four games to two, including two out of three less than a week ago in Cleveland. This is the second time the two teams will meet in the postseason, with Tampa previously taking down the then-Indians 4-0 in the 2013 AL Wild Card Game.
Although the wild-card round is now a best-of-three series, all games will take place at Progressive Field since the Guardians are the higher-seeded team. Game 1 is set for Friday at a time still yet to be determined, with the regular season wrapping up for all teams on Wednesday.