We’re in the heart of October. To some, October represents fuzzy blankets, spooky movies and candy. To baseball fans, October means one thing: MLB playoffs.
It has been a weird year for every professional sports team, and some of MLB’s postseason games have fallen on the same nights as the NBA playoffs. So, just in case you weren’t able to watch both, here is what you might have missed during the National League Division Series (NLDS) and the American League Division Series (ALDS).
The two matchups going into the NLDS were the Dodgers vs. Padres and Marlins vs. Braves.
Many were excited when the Marlins and Braves kicked off the NLDS. The Marlins were the true underdogs of this year in baseball, powering through a bad start to the season when 18 of their players tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, each time the Marlins ever made the postseason, they went on to win the World Series. Would they be able to do it again?
Both teams kicked off Game One with fire, with the Braves scoring a homerun in the first and the Marlins tacking on the same in the second. Going into the fourth, the Marlins led 4-3. Yet the sixth inning took a deadly turn, with the Braves earning six runs. The Marlins were unable to recover and lost 9-5.
The Braves started strong in Game Two thanks to their pitching. Starting right-handed pitcher Ian Anderson made his first postseason appearance for the Braves. From Clifton Park, New York, Anderson was drafted by the Braves as the 2016 third overall pick — and has been a huge threat to every batter he’s faced this year. Anderson led the Braves to a 2-0 shut-out for game two, forcing the Marlins to the brink of elimination going into Game Three on Oct. 8.
Game Three started off slower compared to the others, but the Braves attacked first again in the third, earning four runs. In the fourth, the Braves tacked on another run on a fielding error, and in the fifth they scored twice, with shortstop Dansby Swanson earning his second RBI of the night. This led the Braves to a 7-0 win, and a 3-0 sweep of the Marlins to move on to the National League Championship Series (NLCS). But would they face the Dodgers or the Padres?
The Dodgers asserted a similar dominance over the Padres, and waited for the sixth inning of game one to show what they were made off. They were still hitless by that time, although the game was tied 1-1. Finally, Mookie Betts got a one out double, putting runners at second and third. After his hit, the Dodgers were awakened and scored four runs to take Game One 5-1.
Game Two was a nailbiter. With both teams tacking on scores multiple innings, it came down to a home run-robbing catch from outfielder Cody Bellinger and right-handed pitcher Joe Kelly escaping a bases-loaded ninth inning to hand over the Dodgers a 6-5 victory.
Although the Padres were on the edge of elimination, they just could not capitalize in Game Three. The Dodgers had another forceful showing, defeating the Padres 12-3, earning them a spot in the NLCS for the fifth year in a row.
With both the Braves and the Dodgers moving forward after a clean 3-0 sweep, it seems the NLCS is likely to be a good one.
The two matchups going into the ALDS were Astros vs. Athletics and the Yankees vs. Rays.
The ALDS were not as simple as the NLDS, starting with the Astros and the Athletics taking it all the way to Game Four.
The series began with an Astros win. A homerun rally between multiple players gave the Astros 10 runs to the Athletics five. Although there is controversy on whether the Astros should even be allowed to play during the postseason this year, (see here and here for more information) they played and took another 5-2 victory in Game Two. Outfielder George Springer hit two homeruns to add to the Astros’ momentum.
In Game Three, however, the Athletics proved they weren’t going down without a fight. Oakland outfielder Ramon Laureano ripped a double in the eighth to rally late against the Astros and avoid elimination. The Astros blew a 7-4 lead in the fifth and ended up falling 9-7. Would the Athletics do it again in Game Four?
At first, it seemed possible they might. This time it was the Athletics who struck first, scoring three runs in the second. However it was the Athletics turn to blow a lead, and eventually fell 11-6, ending their dreams of moving forward this year. Now the Astros just had to await their next opponent.
Game One of the Yankees vs. Rays series was off to a blazing start, with both teams scoring in the first. It was right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole and a bunch of homeruns that assisted the Yankees. Catcher Kyle Higashioka and outfielder Aaron Judge hit the tying and goahead homers in the fifth off of Ray’s Blake Snell. Designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton got himself a grand slam in the ninth to guarantee a 9-3 victory over Tampa.
Game Two saw Yankees pitcher Deivi Garcia make his postseason debut and at 21 years old, Garcia became the youngest to ever start a playoff game. Unfortunately Garcia’s young blood was no match for the Rays, and the Yankees lost Game Two 7-5. Game Three was no better for the Bronx Bombers and they fell again to the Rays 8-4.
It was do or die for the Yankees in Game Four. First basemen Luke Voit opened up strong for the Yankees with a solo homerun, but would it be enough? The Yankees were able to hold a tight lead going into the sixth, when second baseman Gleyber Torres tacked on some insurance runs for the Yanks off of a two-run homerun. The Yankees won 5-1.
Which means for the first time this season, there would be a Game Five. Winner moves on to face the Astros. Losers pack their bags.
Both teams put in their best pitcher, each going off of very little rest. For the Yankees, Gerrit Cole. Rays, Tyler Glasnow. The first half of the game saw very low scoring because of the pitchers holding their own.
The Yankees scored first off of a home run from outfielder Aaron Judge in the fourth, however the Rays retaliated with a homerun of their own the next inning. The game remained tied for the majority of the game after that leaving people wondering if Game Five would go into extra innings.
The answer was no. A home run from the Rays in the bottom of the eighth meant the Yankees were down to their last three outs. Although their lineup was promising, they couldn’t make it happen, and the Yankees fell short of the ALCS by one game.
It was a good season of baseball for all teams involved despite the weirdness of it all. Between the Braves, Dodgers, Astros and Rays, only two teams will conquer the championship series and move on to the World Series. May the best team win.