Path to the ALDS: Oakland (37-23) won the AL West first half and Kansas City (30-23) won the AL West second half
Due to the two-month players' strike, the 1981 season was split into two halves, with division leaders of each half facing each other in a temporary best-of-five Division Series format. The winners advanced to the League Championship Series. While three of the four Division Series went the distance, this was the only one that ended in a sweep. Kansas City, the defending AL champs, managed just two runs in the series, as Mike Norris' four-hit shutout in Game 1 and Steve McCatty's six-hitter in Game 2 set the tone.