Baseball's fantastic finishes

There are three baseball playoff spots still up for grabs, and three excellent games tonight only made things more interesting going into the final weekend of the season.

In the AL Central, the Minnesota Twins finished off a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox at the Metrodome in thrilling fashion. The Twins clawed their way back from a 4th-inning 6-1 deficit, tying the game with 2 runs in the 8th inning, and won in the 10th on a walk-off RBI single by Alexi Casilla.

The Twins now lead the AL Central by a half-game over the Sox. With the AL Wild Card already going to either Tampa Bay or Boston, the loser of the AL Central is headed to the golf course. The Twins close out the season with 3 home games against Kansas City this weekend, while the White Sox have 3 at home against Cleveland and, if it's needed, a single game against Detroit on Monday, a makeup for a rainout two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the National League has three teams fighting for two playoff spots. (I'm not counting Houston, who will be eliminated with one more Astros loss or a win by either of the other Wild Card contenders.) The New York Mets, wrapping up their final season at Shea Stadium, were trailing the Chicago Cubs 6-3 despite the Cubs resting most of their starting players. The Mets scored a run in the 7th, then strung together 4 straight hits with 2 outs in the 8th. A sensational slide by the Mets' Ryan Church to avoid a tag at the plate resulted in the tying run, and the Mets won in the 9th on a walk-off RBI hit by Carlos Beltran.

The Milwaukee Brewers have faded so badly that they fired their manager despite still being tied for the NL Wild Card lead at the time. The managerial change didn't help at first, but the Brewers are beginning to regain some of their earlier mojo. Tonight a 10th-inning grand slam -- yes, another walk-off -- by Ryan Braun gave the Brewers a 5-1 win over Pittsburgh at Miller Park.

The Mets and Brewers remain tied for the NL Wild Card, while the Mets are just one game behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East. The Brewers finish up with 3 games at home against the Cubs, the Mets are at home for 3 against Florida, and the Phils are at home for 3 against Washington. Rain may be a complicating factor as a nor'easter is making its way up the East Coast. The Mets-Cubs game tonight finished in a steady rain, and postponements Friday or Saturday could lead to a doubleheader or two on the final day of the season.

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