The group of 16 World Series hopefuls is down to eight teams. The American League Division Series begins Monday, and the National League Division Series begins Tuesday. There will be no days off and all series are the best of five. Let’s look at how these clubs got here in a recap of the MLB Wild Card Series.
American League Wild Card Round
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays
This seemed like a mismatch from the beginning… and it was. In Game 1, Blake Snell came out firing and shut down the Jays with nine Ks in 5 2/3 innings allowing only one hit. Tyler Glasnow followed that up in Game 2 with six solid innings of his own striking out eight Jays and only allowing two solo HRs. The offense put up eight runs and the Rays rolled.
Chicago White Sox vs. Oakland A’s
It looked like the White Sox would take this series. In Game 1, Lucas Giolito retired the first 18 Oakland hitters of the game. Tommy La Stella broke that up with a single up the middle to open the seventh, but Giotlito and the White Sox would win 4-1. Chris Bassitt wasn’t about to let the series get away from his second-ranked A’s. He threw seven innings of one-run ball, leaving the game with a five-run lead. Chicago made it close but the Athletics came away with the Game 2 victory.
In Game 3, the White Sox jumped on Oakland for a 3-0 lead heading into the fourth inning. However, in the bottom of the fourth, the A’s turned it around. They scored four runs and led the game. After Chicago scored a run to tie it up, Chad Pinder singled in two runs in the bottom of the fifth to make it 6-4 in Oakland’s favor. There would be no more runs scored, and the A’s would move on to the second round of the playoffs.
Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins
Kenta Maeda shut down the Astros for five innings as Nelson Cruz supplied the only run to that point. Framber Valdez came in and shut down the Twins for five innings after Zack Greinke started. Tyler Duffey surrendered a run in the seventh which tied the game. In the ninth, Sergio Romo was called upon and loaded the bases when Jorge Polanco threw the ball away. It led to three unearned runs and a loss for the Twins. In Game 2 the Twins’ bullpen failed. Jose Berrios pitched well, allowing one run in five innings of work. Cody Stashak gave up a bomb to Carlos Correa and that was about it. Houston added an insurance run in the ninth and sent Minnesota home with an 18-game postseason losing streak.
New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians
Game 1 featured ace Gerrit Cole against the presumptive Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber. The Savages jumped on the young Cleveland starter for seven runs in five innings and didn’t look back. Game 2 saw the Indians retaliate and bang around Masahiro Tanaka for four runs in the first inning. The Yankee bats would not be denied though, putting up a 10-spot fueled by Gio Urshela‘s fourth-inning grand slam. The Bronx Bombers are back.
National League Wild Card Round
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers had the best record in baseball in 2020, and put up three runs in the first two innings against Brent Suter and the Brew Crew. Milwaukee managed a two-run HR off the bat of Orlando Arcia in the fourth but that was it. Game 2 saw vintage Clayton Kershaw. He was in midseason form, tossing eight innings of shutout ball and striking out 13 on his way to clinching a second-round berth for the Dodgers.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Atlanta Braves
In the game that wouldn’t end, Trevor Bauer and Max Fried matched up in a battle of wills. Neither team could score a run until Freddie Freeman finally ended the tie in the bottom of the 13th. The game set a major league record for the longest scoreless affair in postseason history. In Game 2 it seemed like more of the same, as Luis Castillo and Ian Anderson traded zeroes for four innings. The Braves finally put a run across in the fifth and added four more in the eighth to put away the Reds.
Miami Marlins vs. Chicago Cubs
Kyle Hendricks was cruising in Game 1 and held a slim 1-0 lead until the seventh. Corey Dickerson and Jesus Aguilar connected for HRs and drove in five to give the game to the Marlins. Miami and Sixto Sanchez matched scoreless innings with Yu Darvish and the Cubs until the seventh in the second game. The Marlins put up two runs that would hold and give them a ticket to the next round.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres
With Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger out, Chris Paddack started Game 1 for the Padres. It didn’t go well. The Cards jumped on the San Diego righty for six runs in three innings and took the game 7-4. With things looking bleak down 1-0 in the series and looking at a 6-2 deficit in the sixth inning of Game 2, the Padres came alive with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers each hitting two HRs to give the Padres an 11-9 victory. In Game 3, San Diego set a record by using nine pitchers in a postseason shutout. None of their pitchers threw more than two innings and the Padres punched their ticket to play their division rivals in the next round.
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