Regional rivals could decide World Series winner

Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:37pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - From the East Coast to the West Coast and points in between the Major League Baseball postseason starting on Tuesday provides tantalizing possibilities of a regional rivalry determining the World Series champion.

From a possible "Freeway Series" in Los Angeles between the Dodgers and cross-town rival Angels, to a "Beltway Series" by the nation's capital featuring the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles, local fans dream of a territorial skirmish.

There is also a chance for a "Bay Bridge Series" between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics or an "I-70" clash in the American heartland between the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals.

Such showdowns could showcase some of baseball's best from the Angels' Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig, and strikeout artist Stephen Strasburg of Washington to Baltimore's home run leader Nelson Cruz.

Those notions, however, are well down the road as three levels of playoffs must be hurdled first, starting with a pair of do-or-die wild card clashes in Kansas City and Pittsburgh.

Oakland (88-74) travel to Kansas City (89-73) for the American League's one-game showdown on Tuesday with the Royals celebrating a return to the postseason after a 29-year absence.

The Athletics aim to shake off a late-season swoon in which they nearly squandered a postseason berth after losing 30 of 45 games before joining the tournament with a Sunday win.

Starting for the A's, who have been struggling to score runs, will be Jon Lester (16-11), who will oppose James Shields (14-8) of the Royals, the lowest scoring AL team in the playoffs and dead-last in the league in home runs.   Continued...

Sep 24, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA;  Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (23), starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22), center fielder Yasiel Puig (66) and catcher A.J. Ellis (17) celebrate winning the National League West after beating the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports