The MLB Playoffs: Baseball’s Finest Hour

Oct. 7 through Oct. 9 was the Wild Card round. This best-of-three series saw some close games and some considerable upsets take place. One of the biggest upsets took place in St. Louis, where the six-seed Philadelphia Phillies swept the three-seed Cardinals in two games. 

That was the Phillies’ first series victory in the postseason since 2010.

“What stood out to me was the energy that the Phillies had, they brought it every inning,” said junior Johnny Greene, a member of the Sacred Heart baseball team. 

Perhaps the most exciting series took place in Canada, where the five-seed Seattle Mariners won both games in Toronto against the four-seed Blue Jays. Game 2 saw the Mariners mount a comeback for the ages, coming back from 8-1 down through five innings to win the game 10-9.

In another perceived upset, the five-seed San Diego Padres went into Citi Field in Flushing, Queens and took the series from the four-seed New York Mets. The Mets, who won 101 games in the regular season, managed just one win in the playoffs after losing the National League East division title in a tiebreaker to the Atlanta Braves.

“I did not think that Max Scherzer pitched well, and I found that the starting 9 for the Mets could not find an answer for Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove,” said junior Justin Alter. 

Musgrove, the game three starter for San Diego, allowed just one hit in seven scoreless innings to lead the Padres into the next round.

The fourth and final Wild Card series saw the newly named and three-seed Cleveland Guardians win both games against the six-seed Tampa Bay Rays. Game two of that series was particularly dramatic, as Cleveland’s Oscar Gonzalez hit a walk-off home run in the 15th inning to break a scoreless tie and win the game for his team 1-0.

The MLB Playoffs are a finishing touch on what is always a regular season full of storylines. 

The Yankees’ Aaron Judge was always a good home run hitter, but he took his game to another level this season, breaking Roger Maris’s all-time American League regular season homerun record of 61 by swatting 62 home runs. He hit his 62nd home run on Oct. 4.

“The MLB pulled off a really good season that featured Aaron Judge breaking a 61-year-old home run record and saw Albert Pujols become the fourth member of the 700-home run club,” said Jake Cardinale, who is a senior sports writer for The Spectrum. “There were also many exciting pennant races.”

The 42-year old Pujols, who has already announced his retirement at the conclusion of the season, needed 21 home runs to get to the historic 700 mark. He hit 24, and ended his illustrious career at 703.

During these sometimes chilly autumn nights, the anticipation and debate over which team will emerge victorious finds itself taking over the talk on the Sacred Heart campus. The playoffs are unpredictable, and the upsets and storylines add to the intriguing feel of MLB in October. 

“The playoffs are a grind that enables the depth chart more than ever, and you’re chasing runs,” said Greene. “The small ball must be on point, moving runners into scoring position.”

One thing is for certain in these playoffs, and that is that a new champion will be crowned, as the defending champion Braves lost in four games to their division rival Phillies in the NLDS as a two-seed, and the Phillies prepare for their first NLCS appearance in 12 years.

The NLCS and ALCS are scheduled to be played from Oct. 18 to Oct. 26, and, because the off-season lockout caused a week-long regular season delay, the World Series will be played from Oct. 28 through Nov. 5, if seven games are necessary. Nov. 5 would also mark the latest date on the calendar an MLB game has ever been played.

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