Congratulations: You’ve made it to the end of the MLB regular season. Here’s what you may have missed from a jam-packed final day of the season.
1. The playoff picture is clear
All playoff spots were secured by the end of the day on Saturday. (You can thank the Mariners’ loss to the Rangers for that.) But seeding implications remained for Sunday.
That was most acute in the AL West, where the crown might have gone to either Houston or Texas. But the Astros left no doubt in romping to an 8–1 win over the Diamondbacks, while the Rangers fell 1–0 to the Mariners. (Seattle couldn’t avenge its loss on Saturday, exactly, but it could sure make Texas feel bad about it on Sunday.) That gives the Astros the division title and a first-round bye. The Rangers will instead play a wild-card series against the Rays. And the Blue Jays, meanwhile, will take the last wild-card berth and play the Twins. As for the NL? The Diamondbacks’ loss to the Astros gives the Marlins the No. 5 seed (a wild-card series against the Phillies) and the Diamondbacks the No. 6 seed (a wild-card series against the Brewers).
And, yes, that means there’s no need for the Marlins to go to New York on Monday to finish up their suspended game with the Mets.
2. Buck Showalter will not be back with the Mets
Before the Mets took the field for Game 162, manager Buck Showalter announced that he was out with the team. His two years in Queens were mixed. On one hand, he won Manager of the Year in 2022, overseeing a 101-win roster that represented a new era for the franchise. On the other, that spectacular season ended with a late-season collapse and early postseason exit, and this year turned into a disaster. The fault for all of that does not lie exclusively with Showalter, of course. But it’s still not surprising there was interest in making a change here. The Mets already have a new general manager in former Brewers executive David Stearns. It only makes sense that he’ll have input on a new skipper, too.
3. Joey Votto’s career with the Reds may have ended with… an ejection?
Sunday could have been Joey Votto’s last time in a Reds uniform: His 10-year, $225-million contract with the team ends this year. (There’s a $20 million club option for 2024; Votto has said he understands if the Reds do not exercise that.) The 40-year-old first baseman has not given a definitive answer on his future, but especially after an emotional postgame speech following the final home game of the year in Cincinnati, there’s been plenty of speculation this could be the end of the road for him with the Reds, in MLB, or both. And in his first plate appearance on Sunday … Votto struck out, argued balls and strikes with the ump and found himself ejected before the second inning could start. But if this is the end for Votto? Well, it seems that he was right about the call. What a way to go out.
Tyler Stephenson is at first base. Joey Votto did get ejected in what may be the last game of his career. It would almost be fitting that he got mad at a missed call and was right (pitch 3) pic.twitter.com/oxfCcm1O2A— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) October 1, 2023
4. One weird play for the road
This Little League home run from Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker was originally scored as a triple and an error:
Quick lap around the bases. pic.twitter.com/5cXVC9kGtE— Houston Astros (@astros) October 1, 2023
But a few innings later, the ruling was changed, giving Tucker credit for a home run—which actually meant quite a bit. It would have been Tucker’s 30th of the season, gaining him entrance to the 30–30 Club and helping to make a bit of history. Tucker would have been the fifth player to record a 30–30 season in 2023, joining Ronald Acuña, Jr., Francisco Lindor, Bobby Witt Jr., and Julio Rodríguez. There have never been so many in one season before. (There have been four seasons with four such players—1987, ’96, ’97 and 2011—but never one with five.) But a few innings later … the ruling was changed again. Tucker finished with a triple, leaving him short of the 30–30 Club, and the league just shy of setting a record. Almost as much back-and-forth on the ruling as on the play itself!
Upon even another further review, with Elias realizing the absurdity that it could be a HR, the ruling is a triple again.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 1, 2023
So, no 30th HR for Kyle Tucker. https://t.co/hFUhzUHHcY