The air gets crisper, the leaves are changing color – that’s when you know fall has arrived. And, along with it, October baseball and the beauty of the postseason.
This season in MLB was nothing short of historic. Individual performances from Giancarlo Stanton (59 HR, most since 2006) as well as from rookies Aaron Judge (52 HR, 114 RBI) and Cody Bellinger (39 HR, 97 RBI) sent shock waves across the league.
But it wasn’t just individual players’ performances that stood out, as for the first time since 2003, three teams (Dodgers, Indians, and Astros) all won at least 100 games. The Indians’ performance was especially notable, as they accomplished the longest winning streak (22 games) for an AL team in MLB history. Pennant races came down to the last weekend for longshots like the Twins (103 losses last year) and Rockies, who made the postseason for the first time in 10 years. But after all this excitement, the real fun began with the AL and NL wild card games.
The playoffs started with a bang, thanks to an exhilarating AL Wild Card game featuring the Yankees and the Twins. The game featured a wild beginning as both starting pitchers (Luis Severino and Ervin Santana) struggled. In the 1st inning alone, each team scored 3 runs thanks to home runs by Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario for the Twins and Didi Gregorius for the Yankees.
The teams would exchange blows moving forward as Brett Gardner homered to make it 4-3 in the 2nd inning but the Twins would tie it in the top of the 3rd to make it 4-4. Then, in the bottom of the 3rd, a Greg Bird RBI single would put the Yankees right back on top.
The big blow would come in the bottom of the 4th as Aaron Judge drilled a laser home run to make it 7-4 Yankees, electrifying the crowd and sending them into a frenzy. With the strength of their bullpen (8 ⅔ innings, 13ks) with notable performances especially from David Robertson (W, 3 ⅓ innings, 5ks), the Yankees would go on to win 8-4 and advance to the ALDS.
Meanwhile, the NL Wild Card Game was a wild one out in the west, featuring two NL West rivals: the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Arizona came out of the gates quickly as a 3-run home run by MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and a 2-run home run by Daniel Descalso made it 6-0. The Rockies would not waver though, as they answered with four runs in the top of the 4th off of D-backs ace Zack Greinke and another in the 7th closing the gap to 6-5.
However, in the bottom of the 7th, Archie Bradley (a relief pitcher) would come to bat with two men on and two outs. In a game full of craziness, he drilled a triple into the gap in perhaps the wildest play of the game, making the score 8-5.
The Rockies answered right back in the top of the 8th. With Bradley now pitching, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story hit back-to-back home runs to make the score 8-7. The D-backs would push right back, scoring 3 more times, highlighted by an A.J Pollock triple and making it 11-7.
In the top of the 9th, the Rockies had one more chance. Fernando Rodney came on to pitch for the D-backs, and, despite giving up a run, was able to close it out sending Arizona onto the NLDS with the final score of 11-8.
Both the AL and NL Wild Card Games had immense drama and back-and-forth action, setting the stage for the rest of the playoffs to unravel. If these games were any indication of what’s to come, this October will surely be one to remember.