Pirates to host NL wild card; 3-team AL tie looms

Now that the NL wild-card matchup is set, the Pittsburgh Pirates are eager to host the first playoff game at PNC Park.

With one day left in the regular season, the AL wild-card picture is way more fuzzy. Still looming, in fact, is the possibility of a three-way tie for two spots.

Saturday’s games firmed up a few things:

— Cincinnati will visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday night in the postseason opener to see who advances. Francisco Liriano (16-8) starts for the Pirates against Johnny Cueto (5-2).

— The AL wild-card winner will begin the playoffs at Boston on Friday. Miguel Cabrera and Detroit open at Oakland the same day in the other best-of-five division series.

— Though the NL pairings aren’t set yet, St. Louis and Atlanta will open at home, both on Thursday.

Pittsburgh native Neil Walker homered twice and the Pirates won at Cincinnati 8-3 Saturday, beating out the Reds for home field in the one-game NL wild-card playoff.

“The important thing for me is getting the guys home and playing in a park where we won 50 games and giving our fans a taste of postseason baseball,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

The AL wild-card chase is much more scrambled as Cleveland leads Tampa Bay and Texas by one game.

Cleveland has won nine in a row and finishes at Minnesota, Texas has won six straight and hosts the Angels, and Tampa Bay is at Toronto.

“I’m excited for tomorrow,” Rays slugger Evan Longoria said after a 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays. “We like to make it interesting, that’s for sure.”

If the three teams are tied after Sunday, Cleveland would host Tampa Bay on Monday afternoon, with the winner advancing to the postseason. The loser would play at Texas on Tuesday afternoon for the second wild card.

In the event Sunday ends with a tie for the second wild-card berth, Texas would be home against Tampa Bay in a one-game tiebreaker Monday night.

The AL two wild cards are scheduled to Wednesday night to determine which advances to the division series.

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