Justin Verlander, a 40-year-old right-hander who helped Houston win two World Series titles, struck out five in five scoreless innings and combined with four relievers in a 1-0 victory at Arizona that sealed the final MLB playoff spot.
The Astros scored the only run they needed for an American League wildcard playoff spot in the fourth inning when Kyle Tucker walked, stole second and scored on a Jose Abreu double.
Houston will attempt to earn a fifth trip to the World Series in seven seasons and third title in the same span. Not since the New York Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000 has a club captured consecutive MLB crowns.
Miami’s Josh Bell drove in three runs to spark a 7-3 victory at Pittsburgh that ensured the Marlins a National League wildcard playoff berth, only their second trip to the post-season since winning the 2003 World Series.
Also on the penultimate day of the six-month season, the Rangers jumped ahead by five runs in the fourth inning on the way to a 6-1 victory at Seattle to clinch their first AL playoff berth since 2016 and ensure a place for the Toronto Blue Jays.
When the Cincinnati Reds lost 15-6 at St. Louis, that allowed the Arizona Diamondbacks to clinch a NL playoff spot as well.
All five remaining MLB playoff berths were claimed with seven others captured earlier this month.
In the National League, Atlanta, Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Dodgers already had secured division titles and Philadelphia had claimed a wildcard playoff berth.
In the American League, Baltimore and Minnesota already had clinched division titles and Tampa Bay had sealed a wildcard playoff spot.
The Marlins, with one of MLB’s smallest season payrolls, booked their wildcard position by improving to 84-76.
Miami’s Jorge Soler, who won World series titles with the Chicago Cubs in 2016 and 2021 with Atlanta, drove in a run on a fielder’s choice and Bell followed with a run-scoring sacrifice fly out in the sixth inning to give the Marlins a 4-2 lead.
Bell added a two-run double in the eighth inning for a 6-2 edge.
Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds answered by driving in a run on a single in the eighth but Jazz Chisholm doubled and scored in the ninth on a single by Brian De La Cruz for the final margin. Miami closing relief pitcher Tanner Scott struck out the side in the ninth to secure only the fourth playoff berth in the team’s 31-year history.
At St. Louis, Lars Nootbaar hit a three-run homer and Jordan Walker, Ivan Herrera and Jose Fermin added two-run doubles for the Cardinals on their way to an 11-0 lead and Cincinnati never recovered, ensuring Arizona’s place in the post-season.
At Seattle, Texas seized a 4-0 lead in the third inning, scoring one run on a Nathaniel Lowe single, two more on a Jonah Heim single and another on a Leody Tavares single.
The Rangers added runs on a bases-loaded walk and a Marcus Semien double while Seattle avoided a shutout on a Eugenio Suarez homer.
Seattle’s loss ensured Toronto’s playoff place after the Blue Jays lost at home 7-5 to Tampa Bay earlier.
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