After an unconventional MLB regular season consisting of 60 games rather than the usual 162, we have also been given an unconventional postseason. This postseason is unlike any we have seen in baseball: 16 teams, eight from each league, qualify for the playoffs. With the exception of maybe one or two surprise teams, the qualifiers for the AL Division Series (ALDS) shook out as expected in March, when everyone was still anticipating a normal baseball season. In the American League, it is currently the Tampa Bay Rays against the New York Yankees, and Oakland A’s against the Houston Astros. In the National League, we have the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, and the Atlanta Braves against the Miami Marlins.
The first round in the American League only required one extra game, between the four matchups. –– not the craziest thing considering it was a best of three series. The Chicago White Sox were the only team to force a Game 3 in their series against the Oakland A’s, in which the White Sox won Game 1, but dropped the following two to put Oakland in the ALDS. The Minnesota Twins’ postseason woes continued this year in their 2-0 series loss to last year’s American League champion, the Houston Astros. The Twins have lost 18 consecutive games in the postseason; the longest postseason losing streak in the history of North American sports. This streak dates back to 2004, when the Twins lost an ALDS game against the Yankees in extra innings. Sixteen years later, the Twins have not won a single playoff game since. The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays easily handled the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays in their respective series, each winning 2-0.
The National League had a little bit different results than one may have expected. The San Diego Padres, a gritty young team largely written off before the season propelled their way into a postseason spot and defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 in the first round behind the efforts of their veteran talent and young sensation shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. The Padres’ NL Division Series opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers, was favored to win the National League from the start of the season after reacquiring former Red Sox five-tool right fielder Mookie Betts. The former MVP fit in quite nicely with the Los Angeles Dodgers, to the surprise of nobody, considering how tremendously talented Betts is, and the Dodgers finished with the best record in the National League by eight games. The Dodgers’ 1-2 punch of pitchers Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw were both lights out in the two first-round games against the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing LA to make easy work of the Brew Crew as they beating them 2-0 in the series. One of the surprises of the season was the Miami Marlins, who played their way into a postseason spot despite little preseason fanfare. In the first round, Miami knocked off the Chicago Cubs 2-0, after the Cubs appeared poised to cap off their best season since their World Series Championship in 2016. The Marlins would move on to face the division rival Atlanta Braves, who respectively made light work of the Cincinnati Reds, beating them 2-0 in the series. Game 1 of the Reds-Braves series featured a pitching duel for the ages between Cincinnati ace Trevor Bauer and Atlanta’s Max Fried. Bauer went 7.2 innings, allowing two hits, zero walks, zero runs, and striking out 12 batters, while Fried went seven innings allowing six hits, zero runs, and striking out six batters. The game went 12.5 innings scoreless until first baseman Freddie Freeman brought in Christian Pache with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 13th inning.