Major League Baseball’s best-of-three wild card series begins Friday, a quadruple-header to begin the first year with an expanded field of 12 postseason teams.
Friday’s winners will have a chance to advance to the best-of-five Division Series on Saturday, or the all-important Game 3s scheduled for Sunday.
In the Cleveland-Tampa Bay opener, Guardians pitcher Shane Bieber gave up one hit in 7 ⅔ innings and Jose Ramirez’s two-run homer was all they needed in a 2-1 victory over the Rays.
Following St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 going into the ninth inning, the The Philadelphia Phillies scored six runs in the frame and wait for a 6-3 win – shocking the fans at Busch Stadium.
Playing in their first postseason game since 2001, the The Seattle Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 behind 7 ⅓ scoreless innings from starter Luis Castillo.
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Game 1 schedule, Friday
Padres starter Trent Grisham hit a solo home run with two outs in the second inning against Max Scherzer, extending San Diego’s lead to 3-0. Grisham hit .184 in the regular season.
The Mets had a chance to jump back in the first, but couldn’t get a run with men on first and third with one out.
After struggling mightily since his trade to San Diego, Josh Bell hit a two-run homer against Mets starter Max Scherzer in the first inning to give the Padres a 2-0 lead.
Scherzer gave up a single to Jurickson Profar before retiring Juan Soto and Manny Machado. On a 3-1 pitch, Bell took Scherzer’s route out of the park to left.
Luis Castillo and Andrés Muñoz combined for a shutout, Cal Raleigh hit a two-run home run and the Seattle Mariners won their first playoff game since 2001, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 Friday in their AL wild-card opener.
Eugenio Suárez had a double and two RBIs and rookie Julio Rodríguez reached base three times and scored twice for the Mariners, who can clinch the series with a win in Game 2 on Saturday. The winner plays AL West champion Houston in the Division Series starting Tuesday in Texas.
Castillo scattered six hits in 7 ⅓ innings. He struck out five and walked none, against the second-best team in the AL.
– Associated Press
The Phillies came roaring back in the ninth inning, sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring six runs off a stingy St. Louis bullpen. Phillies second baseman Jean Segura hit a bases-loaded single off right-hander Andre Pallante to give Philadelphia a 3-2 lead. The Phillies tacked on three more runs to take a 6-2 lead.
The Cardinals, who were 74-3 on the season when they led after eight innings, were ready to stop another close game.
The Cardinals managed a run in the bottom of the ninth, but the Phillies would hang on and steal Game 1 at Busch Stadium with a 6-3 victory.
Blue Jays ace Alec Manoah was thrown in the first inning against the Mariners, uncharacteristically giving up three runs. Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez homered, Eugenio Suarez hit a double and Cal Raleigh went yard. Mariners 3, Blue Jays 0.
Cardinals rookie Juan Yepez, who has 12 regular season home runs, smashed the go-ahead, pinch-hit two-run home run in the first postseason game to give St. Louis 2-0 lead in the seventh inning.
The Cardinals franchise has been around since 1900. It was the first pinch-hit, go-ahead home run in Cardinals postseason history.
Zack Wheeler and Jose Quintana didn’t allow a run in their starts. Game 1 comes down to bulls.
Albert Pujols gets a standing ovation from Cardinals fans during pregame introductions. It was his first postseason game at Busch Stadium since Game 7 of the 2011 World Series.
And again before the first at-bat.
Behind the performance-like ace from Shane Bieber and a home run from Jose Ramirez, the Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 in Friday’s Game 1 of the American League wild card series at Progressive Field.
Bieber was a master off the fastball to Jose Siri, throwing 7 ⅔ innings on 99 pitches to get the win. Bieber, who rocked in his only game two years ago, allowed just three hits and struck out eight before being lifted by a runner in the eighth.
BOX SCORE: Guardians 2, Rays 1
After Tampa Bay’s Jose Siri hit a solo home run in the top of the sixth off Cleveland starter Shane Bieber to open the scoring, Guardians slugger Jose Ramirez put together a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning to put his team ahead. The goal was scored as the Guardians won 2-1.
For those who don’t know about Guardians’ clean up hitter, Oscar Gonzalez’s walk-up music is the theme song to Spongebob Squarepants.
Gonzalez, who made his MLB debut on May 26, was asked about his song choice in May.
“Because children love this song and a child’s play. I’ve had it since Triple-A. “
Albert Pujols, 42, is playing in the final postseason of his 22-year career, starting Friday afternoon against the Philadelphia Phillies in a best-of-three wild-card game at a sold-out Busch Stadium.
When the teams wait for the introduction, Pujols gets the longest ovation. When he comes to the plate for the first time during the game, he will get one, as fans grab their phones and take pictures of the grandkids. They do the same thing every time he comes to bat
“Man, I miss that feeling of playing this time of year,” Pujols says. “These guys gave me joy, joy, to come back in the last season. This is what we welcome.
“That’s why I came back.”
– Bob Nightingale
All-Star right fielder Starling Marte was added to the New York Mets’ roster Friday for their wild-card series against the San Diego Padres and could make his first appearance since Sept. 6.
Marte has been suspended since breaking the middle finger on his right (throwing) hand when he was hit by a 96 mph fastball from Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller.
New York also included 20-year-old Francisco Álvarez, who started Sept. 30 and went 2 for 12 with a homer, a double and two walks in five games.
– Associated Press
“He is the best. He’s the man,” Blue Jays outfielder George Springer he says of Alejandro Kirk, the club’s manager and designated hitter. “His smile is something everyone loves and he loves to have fun.”
October usually shines brighter for those who join, those who swing not for the fence but for a purpose. Kirk, who struck out just 57 times in 468 at-bats, could be the perfect playoff combination for a Jays team with plenty of muscle and star power.
“What he’s done at the plate — when I see pitchers trying to find his weaknesses as the season goes on — there’s none,” says Toronto pitcher Kevin Gausman. “He can hit the fastball really well for a short guy, he can hit the fastball really well, he’s an exceptional off-speed hitter.”
– Gabe Lacques
Twitter will offer live broadcast check-ins during Major League Baseball’s postseason for the first time.
ESPN, Fox and other broadcasters of playoff games will be able to show a look-in on their social media accounts, and the live event will also be shown on MLB’s official account. There is no limit to how long each check-in can last.
Twitter will be the only social media platform for official check-ins during the postseason, which begins Friday with four wild-card games.
– Associated Press
After losing the NL East title, the Mets’ path to the World Series may have gotten even tighter best-of-three series against the Padres starting on Fridaybut they have shown throughout the season that they are able to rise through adversity.
Whether it was an early-season injury to Jacob deGrom, a mid-season injury to Max Scherzer or being hit an MLB record 112 times, the Mets have been able to bounce back more often than not when the pitching bug arises.
In the postseason, anything can happen. Ask the Braves team from last season.
“Everybody starts 0-0. It’s a new season,” Francisco Lindor said. “We have to focus on what we have in front of our feet. It’s a blessing to be in the playoffs. To be in the playoffs is a blessing. At the end of the day, I don’t care. Wild Card or World Series, it’s an honor, it’s a privilege to be here. Not everybody gets here.”
– Andrew Tredinnick, NorthJersey.com