The Houston Astros and the New York Yankees booked places in Major League Baseball's postseason division series on Wednesday as the Los Angeles Dodgers opened their playoff campaign with victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The scandal-tainted Astros secured a meeting against either the Oakland Athletics or Chicago White Sox in their American League divisional round match-up after completing a 2-0 wild card series win over Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
The Astros are the villains of baseball's abbreviated 60-game campaign this year following the explosive sign-stealing cheating scandal which engulfed the franchise during the close season.
A tense game two was broken open in the seventh inning when Carlos Correa belted a 430-foot homer to give Houston the lead before Kyle Tucker added an insurance run with a single in the top of the ninth.
"People are mad, people don't want to see us here," a jubilant Correa said afterwards.
"What are they going to say now? We're a solid team, we won a series on the road in Minnesota. So what are they going to say now."
The defeat was a crushing end to the season for Minnesota, who had not suffered consecutive home defeats this year before Houston's back-to-back playoff victories.
It also extended the Twins' tale of postseason woe to a remarkable 18 straight losses, the worst playoff run of any team, in any major professional league in any sport in North America.
The Astros were joined in the AL Division Series round on Wednesday by the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays.
- Yankees rally late -
The Yankees prevailed in a thrilling weather-disrupted game in Cleveland against the Indians, winning a wild game 10-9 to take the best-of-three series 2-0.
A two-run rally in the top of the ninth rescued the Yankees, with Gary Sanchez's sacrifice fly allowing Mike Tauchman to score to tie the game at 9-9 before D.J. LeMahieu's single brought home Gio Urshela for winning run.
The Yankees will face the top-seeded Rays in the AL Division Series. Tampa Bay advanced after completing a 2-0 series win over the Toronto Blue Jays, romping to an 8-2 win at Tropicana Field.
Elsewhere Wednesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers began their latest bid for World Series glory with a 4-2 win over the Brewers at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers, chasing a first World Series since 1988, were set up for victory after a disastrous opening inning from Brewers starting pitcher Brent Suter.
Suter walked four Dodgers batters in the first inning alone, gifting the Dodgers two early runs with bases loaded walks.
A Mookie Betts double scored Chris Taylor to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead in the second inning, and although Milwaukee closed to 3-2, Corey Seager's massive homer in the seventh inning gave the home side a two-run cushion.
In other playoff games on Wednesday, the Atlanta Braves took 1-0 lead in their National League wild card series against the Cincinnati Reds after a record low-scoring 13-inning battle.
Freddie Freeman's walk-off gave the Braves a 1-0 win. The game had made baseball history as the first ever postseason game to go scoreless through 12 innings before Freeman's winning single.