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Braves, Cardinals set to kick off postseason

LOS ANGELES -- Atlanta's Kris Medlen will throw the first pitch of the playoffs while Braves' teammate Chipper Jones could be appearing in his final game as the Major League Baseball postseason begins Friday.

The playoffs start with the Braves battling defending World Series Champion St. Louis in one of two winner-take-all wild cards contests. The Baltimore Orioles travel to Texas for the other wild-card game.

“I'm excited to get a chance to face these guys,” said Medlen, who makes his first postseason start Friday after going 9-0 with an 0.97 ERA in 12 starts since moving from the bullpen on July 31. “It's fitting that it's them, especially with how they caught us last year and they did their thing last year.”

For the 40-year-old Jones it could be the last game in a brilliant career that has spanned two decades all with the same team. He is retiring at the end of the season.

On Saturday, newly crowned Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and his Detroit Tigers will take on American League West champion Oakland Athletics in a best-of-five division series.

The A's, who were 13 games back of first place a week before the all-star break, rallied from a four-run deficit Wednesday to rout Texas 12-5 on the final day of the regular season. The loss dropped the Rangers into the wild card slot.

Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants will host Cincinnati who will start pitcher Johnny Cueto in the opening game of their National League division series.

Like the A's, the New York Yankees put an emphatic finish on their regular season by thumping rival Boston Red Sox 14-2 on Wednesday.

New York claimed the American League East title and will now face either Baltimore or Texas in the first game of their series on Sunday.

The Washington Nationals earned home field advantage throughout the post-season by beating Philadelphia 5-1 on Wednesday. Gio Gonzalez, who won 21 games this season, will start for the Nationals on Sunday against either St. Louis or Atlanta.

A year ago St. Louis surpassed Atlanta on the final night of the season, completing a 23-9 run after Aug. 25 while the Braves went 10-20 in that span.

“I'm glad we're playing them,” Braves' catcher Brian McCann said. “Last year we just let it slip away. It wasn't necessarily they took it from us. We felt like we let it slip away, and we kind of want to redeem ourselves.”

The Cardinals went on to win the World Series after squeaking into the playoffs as the NL wild card.

“Defending champs,” said Medlen. “It's almost like it's supposed to happen, for us to play against them. They've got (Kyle) Lohse going and he's a tough guy to get some runs off of.

“And that lineup is pretty good, too. I'm just going to approach it the same as every other start.

“I've had 11, 12 starts this year, and they really don't matter anymore. It's a game seven thing. Just go out and don't talk, you just go do,” Medlen said.

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