Recapping the MLB Divisional Round

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Dodgers 3, Padres 0 

San Diego Padres starting pitcher Mike Clevinger throws to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

In my last article I wrote, one of my takes I had was, “watch out for Slam Diego.” 

My bad. 

This week, the Padres became the latest team to feel the wrath of the World Series favorites, getting swept by the Dodgers, 3-0. This series wasn’t really close, as the Padres got outscored 22-9.  

The return of ace Mike Clevinger was a short one, as he lasted only two pitches into the second inning before leaving with the same injury that kept him out of the Wild Card Round. The Dodgers were able to put up five on the bullpen to win Game 1, 5-1. 

The only really close game in this series was Game 2, which saw a potential go-ahead home run from phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. robbed by 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger, as well as a bases-loaded save from noted legend Joe Kelly. The Dodgers got a scare, but they took Game 2 to go up 2-0. 

Game 3 was just a bloodbath, in which Will Smith went 5-for-6 with three RBIs in a 12-3 victory for LA. The Dodgers hope to remain undefeated this postseason as they face a tough Braves team in the NLCS. 

Astros 3, Athletics 1 

Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe tags out Houston Astros center fielder George Springer on an attempted steal during the third inning in Game 1 of a baseball American League Championship Series, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Alright, I didn’t think we’d get to this point, but the Houston Astros are on their way to another ALCS. After being the pariahs of the league this year for their recent cheating scandal, the ‘Stros are proving the haters wrong with their offense, of all things.  

No trash cans or buzzers needed for these guys, as their core group (who have struggled all year) finally seem to have gotten it together. Houston was able to put up an astonishing 33 runs over four games against an Athletics team that was 5th best in the MLB in ERA this season. Pitching wasn’t great this series on either side, as the Astros gave up an average of five runs per game. 

In Games 1 and 2, it was UConn alum George Springer who led the way for the bats, going 4-for-5 in the first game, while going 2-for-4 in the second with two home runs and three RBIs, propelling Houston to a 2-0 series lead. 

Game 3 was an absolute slugfest, with seven bombs in a 9-7 win for the Athletics. A big fifth inning from the Stros’ put them on top 7-4, but a three-run homer by Chad Pinder, followed by a couple of sacrifice flies sealed the game for the A’s.  

The next night, the Astros put up 11 runs on Oakland to win the series, thanks to five RBIs from Carlos Correa alone. Houston looks to take this offensive hot streak to the No. 1 seeded Rays. 

Braves 3, Marlins 0 

Miami Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson (25) makes a running catch for the third out on a ball hit by Atlanta Braves’ Travis d’Arnaud in the eighth inning in Game 3 of a baseball National League Division Series, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Marlins’ Cinderella Story has come to an end. 

After sneaking their way into the playoffs this year, Miami had a huge upset wild card victory over the No. 3 seeded Chicago Cubs, sweeping them 2-0. In their divisional series, however, they found themselves on the other side of the sweep at the hands of a very talented Braves team.  

In Game 1, Miami took an early lead, but a six-run seventh inning by Atlanta, led by multi-run bombs from Travis d’Arnaud and Dansby Swanson, put Atlanta up for good. A notable record was broken in this game as well, as Ronald Acuna Jr. became the youngest player in postseason history to hit a leadoff home run.  

Game 2 led to another Braves win, thanks to an outstanding postseason performance from starter Ian Anderson, who went five and two thirds innings, allowing zero runs and just three hits. Atlanta’s offense was powered by home runs from d’Arnaud and Swanson for the second night in a row. 

In the third game, the Marlins got shut out again, this time at the mercy of another rookie starter in Kyle Wright. Multiple hits from four Braves players helped the team put up seven runs in the clinching game for the team. Despite having probably the easiest matchup this round, this team is looking really good headed into their next series versus the Dodgers. 

Rays 3, Yankees 2 

New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole throws to a Tampa Bay Rays batter during the first inning in Game 5 of a baseball AL Division Series, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

What. A. Series. 

Of all of the matchups in the Divisional Series, this is the only one to have gone to a fifth game. You have two bitter division rivals squaring off. Former World Series favorites versus the top dogs in the American League. This series gave us the kind of excitement only the AL East can deliver. 

In Game 1, you have Gerrit Cole, the blockbuster free agent signing, doing exactly what you paid him to do: win playoff games. Going up against Blake Snell in a battle of aces, the Yankees come up on top, 4-3. 

Game 2 provided a shift in momentum, as the Yankees’ management choices likely cost them the game. Starting Deivi Garcia, the youngest pitcher in Yankees postseason history, was a good move. Taking him out after only one inning, however, was not. Trying to use a surprise opener, a play out of the Rays’ own handbook, did not pay off. Tampa Bay absolutely teed off of long reliever J.A. Happ, and didn’t lose the lead again after the second inning. 

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50) throws against the New York Yankees during the first inning in Game 3 of a baseball American League Division Series, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Game 3 showed a great outing from Rays starter Charlie Morton, only giving up one run on five innings pitched. On the other side, Masahiro Tanaka did not have a strong outing, giving up five in four innings. Big offensive games from Joey Wendle and Randy Arozarena put the Rays up 2-1 on the series. 

In the fourth game, New York put on a near perfect performance: one run total on three hits, while driving in five on 11 hits themselves. After the game, Luke Voit said “we’re gonna win it” in regards to Game 5.  

Spoiler alert: they didn’t. 

In an absolute nailbiter, it was Mike Brosseau’s go-ahead home run off of (who else but) Aroldis Chapman in the 8th to put Tampa Bay in the lead for good, 2-1. This makes Chapman the only pitcher in postseason history to give up go ahead home runs in the 8th inning or later in a must win game twice. Gerrit Cole had a spectacular outing, going five no hit innings, but the offense gave him no help, ending the Yankees’ season. 

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