The 2013 MLB playoff schedule became clearer when the Tampa Bay Rays topped the Texas Rangers 5-2 on Monday evening in a tiebreaker game, earning a spot in the official American League Wild Card Game.

Joe Maddon’s bunch will be on the road again in traveling to Progressive Field to take on the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday in another win-or-go-home scenario.

It’s amazing that the AL wild-card race came down to the 162nd and final game of the regular season and that it took an additional contest to truly settle the score.

The National League wild-card picture has been set in stone for some time, as the Pittsburgh Pirates will play host to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. Pittsburgh beat the Reds on the road 4-2 in the regular-season finale, which gives the club a slight edge as hosts in PNC Park.

Before getting into predictions for the forthcoming wild-card showdowns, here is a look at the complete MLB postseason schedule as it stands at the moment.


2013 MLB Postseason Schedule

* = if necessary


Wild-Card Predictions

Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

The pitching matchup in this one will be intriguing, because Reds hurler Johnny Cueto has made only two starts since June 28, but he yielded just one earned run total in those appearances.

Meanwhile, Francisco Liriano has enjoyed his best season by far since 2006, winning a career-high 16 games and posting an ERA of 3.02.

In the friendly confines of PNC Park, Liriano is 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA, and left-handed hitters are batting just .131 against him for the 2013 season.

That is bad news for Cincinnati, who has Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo to rely on for its power hitting—all of whom are left-handed. With Liriano’s slider and developed changeup, it will be difficult for the Reds to get much wood on the ball in the early going.

Expect a big game from superstar Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen and for the home crowd and team to feed off the symbiotic, electric atmosphere to key a win for Pittsburgh.

Prediction: Pirates 6, Reds 4


Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cleveland Indians

The hottest team in baseball may see its postseason hopes foiled at home in one evening, but the Indians hope that isn’t the case.

Cleveland is riding a 10-game winning streak entering the playoffs and will put its hopes in the hands of 23-year-old right-handed pitcher Danny Salazar on Wednesday.

Another young stud will take the hill for the Rays in Alex Cobb, who went 11-3 with an ERA of just 2.76 in his second full season in the big leagues.

Winning 10 in a row and then falling flat at Progressive Field would be the latest sad Cleveland sports story, but with former World Series-winning manager Terry Francona at the helm, that shouldn’t happen this time around.

The big concern is what the Indians will do down the stretch, since closer Chris Perez posted a 5.73 ERA in August and ballooned to 9.64 in September. 

However, Francona’s tactical genius has been on display in circumventing that problem down the stretch to get the Indians to this point.

Between that and the balanced production Cleveland’s lineup enjoys, the Tribe should roll to victory to set up a clash with another AL East foe, the Boston Red Sox.

Prediction: Indians 6, Rays 5


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