With the calendar turning to October, the MLB playoffs began with the National and American League lineup games. Both games provided much excitement, and is hopefully a sign of the intense action to come later this month.
The NL wild-card game between the Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals took place first on Tuesday. The Nationals sent ace Max Scherzer to the mound to duel against the Brewers flamethrower Brandon Woodruff. Early on, it was the Brewers who made a statement, with Yasmani Grandal and Eric Thames hitting home runs a piece within the first two innings to put their squad up 3-0. The Brewers held the lead for most of the game, even with Nationals shortstop Trea Turner hitting a solo home run in the third inning. The Brewers were looking to ride their dominant bullpen to the NLDS, with closer Josh Hader coming in the 8th. After a shutdown 8th, Hader hit Michael Taylor, then surrendered a bloop single and then a walk to load the bases for young phenom Juan Soto. It was Soto who came up clutch, hitting a line drive to right field and due to a misplay by Trent Grisham, all three runners on base scored. The Nationals won the game 4-3 and advance to meet the Dodgers for the NLDS.
The AL wild-card game between the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays also started off with a bang. A’s starter Sean Manaea surrendered a total of 4 hits, with 3 being home runs. Yandy Diaz hit two of those home runs, essentially to the same spot in the bleachers. While the A’s were able to gather 8 singles throughout the game, they were only able to score 1 run. Rays starter Charlie Morton kept the A’s hitters at bay, even without his best curveball.
Both the Rays and Nationals will hope to continue to ride their playoff momentum in their respective division series.