MLB playoff lookahead: Rays, Rangers set to play 163

The AL's 2nd wild card to be decided tonight.

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Posted: Monday, September 30, 2013 12:00 am

The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers are pushing this regular season to game No. 163.

On a Sunday punctuated by Miami's Henderson Alvarez pitching a no-hitter, Tampa Bay and Texas both won and wound up even, forcing a tiebreaker for the second AL wild-card spot. The Rays will play at Texas tonight, with the winner visiting Cleveland on Wednesday night in another all-or-nothing matchup.

Rangers rookie Martin Perez starts against reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price. Texas gets a boost, too -- All-Star slugger Nelson Cruz will be active after his 50-game penalty from Major League Baseball in the Biogenesis drug scandal.

"He's served his suspension," Rays star Evan Longoria said. "It is what it is. Justice has been served."

Asked if he expected to play, Cruz said: "I think so."

It will be baseball's first tiebreaker -- officially, this is a regular-season game and the stats count -- since Minnesota beat Detroit, 6-5 in 12 innings, for the 2009 AL Central title.

What was supposed to be the final day of the regular season began with the possibility of a three-way tie for a pair of AL wild-card spots.

Instead, Cleveland clinched its first postseason berth since 2007, winning 5-1 at Minnesota to finish at 92-70 and one game ahead of Texas and Tampa Bay as the top wild card.

Rookie Danny Salazar is set to start for the Indians against either Texas or Tampa Bay.

The NL playoff scene is settled. Johnny Cueto starts for Cincinnati against Francisco Liriano and the Pirates at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night in the NL wild-card playoff.

In the best-of-five division series, the NL wild-card winner is at St. Louis and the Los Angeles Dodgers start at Atlanta.

The Dodgers will be minus center fielder Matt Kemp for the postseason because of swelling in a bone in his left ankle, an injury that caused him to miss games 52 in the last two months.

In the AL, Detroit opens at Oakland and the wild card visits Boston.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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