MLB Postseason Recap, Day 2: Three teams punch Division Series tickets, including two incredible American League finishes

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Phil Long/AP/Shutterstock (13448882cu) Cleveland Guardians’ Oscar Gonzalez runs towards home plate after hitting the game winning home run in the 15th inning of a wild card baseball playoff game against the Tampa Bay Rays, in Cleveland Rays Guardians Baseball, Cleveland, United States – 08 Oct 2022

MLB Postseason Recap, Day 2: Three teams punch Division Series tickets, including two incredible American League finishes

Guardians 1, Rays 0 (15 Innings)

After Game 1 saw the Cleveland Guardians prevail in less than two and a half hours behind a vintage Shane Bieber pitching performance, fans at Progressive Field could smell the ALDS as Saturday’s Game 2 started. Two big, hard-throwing righties took the mound in Tyler Glasnow and Triston McKenzie, and they’d both dominate the game through five innings. Glasnow, who missed much of the 2022 season due to injury and hadn’t yet been built up to a full pitch count, exited after five innings allowing only two base runners while striking out five. Triston McKenzie matched him step for step, egging on the crowd after escaping a jam in the sixth inning as the Rays’ bullpen entered the fold. 

As the Cleveland crowd got louder, things seemed to be unraveling in a hurry for Tampa Bay. Reliever Peter Fairbanks would exit after two walks and an apparent hand injury, and Jason Adam would hit the first batter he faced to set up the Guardians with the bases loaded, nobody out, and franchise icon Jose Ramirez at the plate. With the Rays’ season suddenly seeming on the brink of doom, Adam would strike out Ramirez and induce a double play from Josh Naylor to escape the inning and keep the game scoreless heading into the seventh. Both bullpens settled in from there, and the game would head into extra innings in a scoreless tie. After two more strong bullpen innings from both sides, Game 2 became only the second Postseason game in MLB history to head to the 12th inning scoreless. Fast forward to the top of the 15th, the Tampa Bay Rays would finally threaten with two singles to double their hit total for the game as a whole – but Guardians reliever Sam Hentges would get the strikeout needed to keep the game at 0-0. Finally, Oscar Gonzalez would crush a home run into the left field seats leading off the bottom of the 15th to send the Progressive Field crowd into a frenzy and send the Guardians onward for an ALDS with the Yankees. 

Mariners 10, Blue Jays 9

Seattle quieted the deafening Toronto crowd early in Game 1, taking an early lead and never looking back while Luis Castillo hurled a gem to put the Blue Jays’ season on the brink. The Blue Jays turned to Kevin Gausman in Game 2’s must-win spot, looking to avoid a similar hole against their former teammate Robbie Ray. Gausman would put up the zeroes Toronto needed in the early going, and right fielder Teoscar Hernandez would take Ray deep twice to build a 4-0 lead for Toronto through four innings. The Mariners broke the seal on a sacrifice fly in the fifth to pull within three but would quickly face a much steeper hill to climb. Seattle would pull Ray from the game after only three innings, but the Blue Jays would continue their offensive onslaught against reliever Paul Sewald in the fifth, loading the bases and pushing across runs in a variety of ways to extend their lead to 8-1. 

Seattle would load the bases themselves in the top of the sixth, but Kevin Gausman would record two outs without a run coming across before being pulled from the game to a standing ovation. Blue Jays manager John Schneider would turn to left-handed reliever Tim Mayza, a decision he’d immediately regret after a wild pitch and a three-run homer by Carlos Santana narrowed the Mariners’ deficit to 8-5. Toronto would tack on another run on a Danny Jansen single in the seventh, extending their lead to 9-5. 

In the top of the eighth, everything suddenly fell apart for Blue Jays reliever Anthony Bass against the Seattle offense. He would allow three consecutive hits as Seattle closed the deficit to 9-6 before John Schneider would turn to closer Jordan Romano. Adam Frazier greeted Romano with another single, loading the bases for the Mariners with nobody out. Romano would strike out the next two Seattle hitters, but a flare into shallow center field by J.P. Crawford fell between Bo Bichette and George Springer, clearing the bases and leaving both players shaken up after a collision. Springer would be carted off the field, and the game suddenly stood tied at 9-9 in front of a stunned Toronto crowd. Back-to-back doubles by Cal Raleigh and Adam Frazier would put the Mariners in front in the top of the ninth, giving Seattle their first lead of the night at 10-9 and leaving Toronto three outs from elimination. The Mariners would turn to rookie George Kirby in the ninth, who disposed of the Jays to complete the comeback win and Seattle’s first Postseason series win since 2001. It was only the third comeback in Postseason history by seven or more runs and the first comeback of that size by any team since the Red Sox in 2008. Seattle will head to Houston to begin an all-AL West Division Series with the Astros on Tuesday.

Mets 7, Padres 3

After last night’s shocking meltdown by Max Scherzer, Buck Showalter and the Mets turned to Jacob deGrom with their season on the line Saturday night at Citi Field. San Diego countered with lefty Blake Snell, who had allowed just two runs over 25 innings over his last five starts of the season. Francisco Lindor greeted Snell rudely in the first inning, driving a solo home run into the left-field seats to put the Mets ahead 1-0. Trent Grisham would respond with a solo shot of his own in the third, taking a 100-mile-per-hour deGrom fastball on the outside corner to left field to tie the game. Blake Snell’s pitch count rose as his command faltered in the fourth, and he would end up getting pulled from the game after a Brandon Nimmo RBI single with one out gave the Mets a 2-1 advantage. The back-and-forth contest would continue in the fifth, as San Diego pushed a run across with a walk and two singles to even things up before Pete Alonso homered in the bottom of the inning for a 3-2 New York lead. 

After six strong innings and 99 pitches, Buck Showalter removed Jacob deGrom and went to closer Edwin Diaz for the top of the seventh inning. San Diego manager Bob Melvin turned to Adrian Morejon in the seventh and inexplicably left him in the game after he promptly allowed a single and two walks. Jeff McNeil would make Melvin and the Padres pay, smashing a single to right center to extend New York’s lead to 5-2. Bob Melvin would turn to Pierce Johnson from there, but an Eduardo Escobar single and Daniel Vogelback sacrifice fly would push the Mets’ lead to 7-2. 

To the surprise of many, Edwin Diaz would remain in the game for New York in the eighth inning to record the first two outs – bringing his total pitch count for the evening to 28 and leaving doubt as to whether the Mets would have him available for tomorrow’s decisive Game 3. Adam Ottavino would attempt to record the last four outs for New York but was removed in the ninth after walking in a run to bring the tying run to the plate at 7-3. Seth Lugo took over and induced a Josh Bell ground out to tie the series. The Padres are expected to turn to right-hander Joe Musgrove, while New York will likely tab Chris Bassitt as their starter for the winner-take-all rubber match. 

Game 3: Sunday, 3:07pm CT

Phillies 2, Cardinals 0

Following a ninth-inning meltdown Friday afternoon in Game 1, the St. Louis Cardinals entered Saturday night’s game looking to extend their season – and Albert Pujols’ career. After an excellent outing from Phillies’ ace Zack Wheeler in Game 1, they put franchise icon Aaron Nola on the mound looking for the two-game sweep. Bryce Harper would open the scoring in the second, absolutely crushing a ball into the right field seats to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead over Cardinals’ starter Miles Mikolas. St. Louis manager Oli Marmol would pull Mikolas with two runners on in the fifth, turning to lefty Jordan Montgomery with runners at first and third with one out. Despite a Kyle Schwarber sac fly to extend Philly’s lead to 2-0, Montgomery limited the damage and escaped the inning moments later. 

Aaron Nola was masterful for the Phillies, pitching 6 ⅔ scoreless innings while striking out six Cardinals. He was eventually replaced by left-handed reliever Jose Alvarado, who retired two batters before walking Lars Nootbaar. Rob Thomson turned to Seranthony Dominguez to escape the eighth, but Albert Pujols promptly singled to left field to put runners at first and second with one out. Pujols would be replaced by a pinch runner, leaving a sold-out Busch Stadium wondering if he’d exited the field of play for the last time. Dominguez struck out both Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado from there, escaping the jam and bringing Philadelphia within three outs of an NLDS date with the Atlanta Braves. Zach Eflin was brought in to close things out in the ninth and would eventually set down the Cardinals after allowing two baserunners to give the Phillies the 2-0 win and series sweep. Philadelphia heads to Atlanta, where they’ll begin a five-game set against the defending champs.

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