It feels like it started just yesterday (because it did) but the MLB Wild Card round is already complete.
All four series ended in sweeps with the Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins first taking care of business in the American League and now the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks doing the same in the National League.
The Phillies were able to run through their NL East rival, making quick work of the Miami Marlins in front of a raucous home crowd. Meanwhile the Diamondbacks, who were the sixth seed, traveled to Milwaukee and beat the Brewers on their own field.
Diamondbacks Stun Brewers in Milwaukee
The Milwaukee Brewers entered their Wild Card series against the Arizona Diamondbacks as the favorites by virtue of having the home-field advantage and what was perceived to be a real pitching edge in the pivotal first game of the three-game set.
Former Cy Young Corbin Burnes took the mound for the Brewers in Game 1 and was even spotted a three-run lead, facing off against D-Backs rookie Brandon Pfaadt.
Burnes began to falter in the third inning though, first giving up a hit to ninth-hitter Geraldo Perdomo before the lineup turned over to Corbin Carroll. The presumptive NL Rookie of the Year delivered big time in his first playoff game, blasting a two-run homer.
Ketel Marte then followed up Carroll’s blast with one of his own, tying the game up and Arizona never looked back. Gabriel Moreno put them up with a solo homer of his own in the fourth inning and the Diamondbacks bullpen got the final 19 outs of the game without surrendering another run.
Burnes took the loss for allowing those four runs and even Devin Williams struggled allowing two insurance runs to come in the top of the ninth inning for the Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks felt great coming into Game 2, as they were able to hand the ball off to their ace Zac Gallen and boy did he deliver.
Making his first ever postseason start, Gallen did falter in the first inning, allowing two runs on a walk and three hits, but settled down from there.
Across the following five innings, Gallen allowed just two hits and no runs, finishing the game with a quality start of two earned runs allowed over six innings pitched.
For Milwaukee it was Freddy Peralta who was on the mound and he held strong through the first four innings. Then in the fifth, Alek Thomas hit a solo home run, cutting Milwaukee’s lead in the half.
The wheels came off for Peralta in the fifth, as he walked the leadoff man before giving up a double to Carroll and a single to Marte before being yanked in favor of Abner Uribe. The Brewers stud reliever could not work his way out of the jam, giving up both of his inherited runners and one of his own, as the Diamondbacks put up a four-spot that proved to be the difference in the game.
The Brewers certainly threatened in the late innings, loading the bases in the eighth inning, but Arizona was able to hold onto their lead. Across the two games, the Diamondbacks got 9 1/3 inning of scoreless relief from their bullpen. That group will have to hold strong if they are going to stand a chance to beat their division rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS.
Phillies Looking Like a Real Threat in Dominant Sweep
For the Miami Marlins, making the playoffs had to the be the real victory for their season as they simply looked overmatched in their Wild Card series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
In the first game, it was all about Phillies ace Zack Wheeler, who was absolutely dominant for Philadelphia. Wheeler retired the side in order the first time through the lineup and faced just one batter over the minimum through six innings.
While he did run into some trouble in the seventh inning, giving up a run on three hits, the Phillies bullpen proved to be more than up to the task of holding onto a lead after he exited.
It was a team effort offensively for Philadelphia in Game 1, as they combined for four runs off 11 hits, with Alec Bohm, Nick Castellanos, Bryson Stott and Christian Pache all picking up RBI knocks.
This set the stage for a bigger offensive explosion in Game 2, where the Phillies gave their fans plenty of fireworks with seven runs scored to eliminate the Marlins from the playoffs. The biggest blow came in the sixth inning, where Stott effectively ended the series with a grand slam.
On top of the great offense, the Phillies got another great start as Aaron Nola did even better than Wheeler from a night before, pitching seven shutout innings with just three hits allowed.
Now the Phillies advance and get a few days rest before they begin what is easily the most compelling series in the divisional round, a matchup with their NL East rivals, the Atlanta Braves.
The Road Ahead in the NLDS
The National League Divisional Series will pin two sets of division rivals against each other, as the Brewers being eliminated has removed the NL Central from the conversation. We will have an NL West showdown of the Dodgers and the D-backs and an NL East showdown of the Braves vs. Phillies.
Over the coming days, stay tuned for full series previews on all four of these series, before playoff baseball picks back up once again beginning this Saturday!