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MLB: A postseason primer as playoffs get under way
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Wild Card Games

National League

St. Louis (88-74) at Atlanta (94-68)

Friday, 3 p.m. (MDT)

Season series • Atlanta, 5-1

Sizing it up • Atlanta has won 23 games started by Kris Medlen, and the Braves will fight to make sure this isn't Chipper Jones' final game. Yet, St. Louis, which rode the wild card to a World Series victory in 2011, has solid pitching and understands what it takes to navigate through the playoffs.

X-Factor • Atlanta's offense. It has been inconsistent in 2012.

TV • TBS

American League

Baltimore (93-69) at Texas (93-69)

Friday, 6:30 p.m. (MDT)

Season series • Texas, 5-2.

Sizing it up • About a month ago, Texas might have been the easy pick. However, the Rangers' collapse during the final week, including a blowout sweep by Oakland for the A.L. West crown, places this one-game playoff into a new light. Also, the Orioles, making their first post-season appearance since 1997, are battle tested after their fight for the A.L. East title.

X-Factor • Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton. He needs a return to form.

TV • TBS

Division Series (Best-of-five)

American League

Oakland (94-68) vs. Detroit (88-74)

Saturday, time 4 p.m. (MDT).

Season series • Detroit, 4-3

Sizing it up • Detroit closed the season with a rush, though not with the same intensity as Oakland, which once trailed Texas by 13 games and five with nine to play. Although a No. 3 seed, the Tigers boast one of the toughest starting staffs in baseball, led by Justin Verlander. Oakland won a major league record 53 games by rookie pitchers.

X-Factor • Detroit's defense or Oakland's youthful pitchers. Either could collapse.

TV • All games will be shown on TBS.

N.Y. Yankees (95-67) vs. Baltimore or Texas

Sunday, time TBA.

Season series • vs. Texas, 4-3; vs. Baltimore 9-9.

Sizing it up • The Yankees begin their quest for title No. 28 with a powerful lineup featuring Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter. Yet, if there is a weakness for New York, it is the starting rotation. After CC Sabathia, there are question marks. In addition, closer Rafael Soriano doesn't strike the same fear in hitters as Mariano Rivera.

X-Factor • NY starting pitchers Hiroki Kuroda and Phil Hughes.

TV • All games will be shown on TBS.

National League

Cincinnati vs. San Francisco

Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (MDT)

Season Series • Cincinnati, 4-3

Sizing it up • San Francisco, sparked by Buster Posey's superb second half, finally found a potent offense this year. Matt Cain is a solid No. 1 starter, backed by Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong. Meanwhile, the Reds also have a strong lineup and pitching, led by Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto.

X-Factor • Giants' Tim Lincecum. The two-time Cy Young winner was inconsistent in 2012.

TV • All games will be shown on TBS.

Washington vs. Atlanta or St. Louis

Sunday, time TBA

Season series • vs Atlanta, 10-8; vs. St. Louis 4-3.

Sizing it up • Young Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg received much of the attention in 2012. Yet, the Nationals compiled the best record in the National League with a starting staff, led by Cy Young candidate Gio Gonzalez, which had the second-best earned-run average in baseball. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche anchor a solid lineup.

X-Factor • Washington's bullpen. There have been several blown saves this season.

TV • All games will be shown on TBS.

According to MLB.com, TBS will air three of the four Division Series games on Sunday and up to three games on Oct. 10th. MLB Network will air one Division Series game on both of those dates. —

Playoff schedule

All games will be broadcast by TBS. According to MLB.com, TBS will air three of the four Division Series games on Sunday and up to three games on Wednesday. MLB Network will air one Division Series game on both of those dates.

Wild Card Games

(All times MDT)

Friday, St. Louis at Atlanta (NL), 3 p.m.

Friday, Baltimore at Texas (AL), 6:30 p.m.

American League Division Series

Detroit vs. Oakland

Saturday, Oakland at Detroit, 4 p.m.

Sunday, Oakland at Detroit, TBA

Tuesday, Detroit at Oakland, TBA

Wednesday, Detroit at Oakland (if necessary), TBA

Thursday, Detroit at Oakland (if necessary), TBA

Texas or Baltimore vs. N.Y. Yankees

Sunday, New York at ALWC, TBA

Monday, New York at ALWC, TBA

Wednesday, ALWC at New York, TBA

Thursday, ALWC at New York (if necessary), TBA

Oct. 12, ALWC at New York (if necessary), TBA

National League Division Series

San Francisco vs. Cincinnati

Saturday, Cincinnati at San Francisco, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday. Cincinnati at San Francisco, TBA

Tuesday, San Francisco at Cincinnati, TBA

Wednesday, San Francisco at Cincinnati (if necessary), TBA

Thursday. San Francisco at Cincinnati (if necessary), TBA

Atlanta or St. Louis vs. Washington

Sunday. Washington at NLWC, TBA

Monday, Washington at NLWC, TBA

Wednesday. NLWC at Washington, TBA

Thursday, NLWC at Washington (if necessary), TBA

Oct. 12, NLWC at Washington (if necessary), TBA

MLB • Wild Card games Friday; Division Series begin Saturday, Sunday
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