Following the NL division tiebreaker games held on Monday which crowned the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers as NL West and NL Central division champs, respectively, the losers of the tiebreakers, the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies, faced off in the NL Wild Card game on Tuesday. The Cubs were eliminated in an agonizing extra-innings nailbiter featuring appearances by several Cubs starting rotation members and the return of RP Pedro Strop from a late-season hamstring injury. The Rockies will face the Milwaukee Brewers in the Division Series starting on Thursday at 5:07 PM ET.
The AL Wild Card game proceeded on Wednesday. SP Luis Severino took the hill for the Evil Empire, while the visiting A’s elected to approach the matchup as a bullpen game, opening with RP Liam Hendriks. Yankees OF Aaron Judge hit a 2-run bomb in the bottom of the 1st to give the Bronx Bombers an early lead. The A’s were able to hang around until the bottom of the 6th, when RP Fernando Rodney allowed back-to-back doubles by Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks. Following a wild pitch, Rodney was removed for RP Blake Treinen in the middle of OF Giancarlo Stanton’s at-bat. Treinen was unable to shut down the Yank offense, and the Bombers eventually scored 4 runs in the inning to break the game open and advance to the Division Series against their bitter division rivals, the Boston Red Sox, opening on Friday night at 7:32 PM ET.
Tuesday, October 2
Rockies 2, Cubs 1
W: Oberg; L: Hendricks
Player of the Game: Tony Wolters (1-1, game winning RBI single)
This game proved to be a microcosm of the Cubs’ failures during the 2018 season, as the offense once again failed to provide the necessary run support to the pitching staff. SP Jon Lester, a postseason veteran, had the ball for the Cubs, while Kyle Freeland was tapped for the visiting Rockies. Lester allowed one run in the top of the 1st on a sacrifice fly by INF Nolan Arenado to score OF Charlie Blackmon. No runs were scored thereafter, as Lester shut down the Rox in a 6.0 IP outing where he allowed just one run on 4 hits with one walk and 9 strikeouts, and the Cubs’ frozen bats were stymied by Freeland, who went 6.2 IP, allowing no runs, 4 hits and 1 walk with 6 strikeouts. The Cubs tied the game late on a RBI double by INF Javier Báez scoring OF/specialist Terrance Gore, who replaced INF Anthony Rizzo as a pinch runner. Cubs RP Pedro Strop made a triumphant return from injury to hold the Rox scoreless in the top of the 9th, striking out two batters and giving his team a chance to walk it off. The Rockies took the lead in the top of the 13th off an RBI single by C Tony Wolters allowed by Kyle Hendricks, a starter who appeared in relief for the Northsiders along with Cole Hamels, to score OF Gerardo Parra, which proved to be the game winner.
Wednesday, October 3
Yankees 7, Athletics 2
W: Betances; L: Hendriks
Player of the Game: Aaron Judge (2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR, 1 BB)
Yankees OFs Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton went deep as the Bronx Bombers rolled over the upstart A’s. Luis Severino went 4.0 IP with no runs on 2 hits with 4 walks and 7 strikeouts for the home team, while opener Liam Hendriks allowed a 2-run shot by Judge to put the Yanks ahead in the bottom of the 1st. The Evil Empire went on to score four more runs in the 6th inning off RPs Fernando Rodney and Blake Treinen to gain a comfortable margin. The A’s made some noise in the top of the 8th with a 2-run bomb by MLB regular season home run leader Khris “Crush” Davis scoring INF Jed Lowrie, but the Yanks got one back in the bottom of the inning on a solo shot by Stanton. RP Aroldis Chapman took the mound in the top of the 9th to seal the victory for the Evil Empire, who will move on to face their hated rival, the Boston Red Sox, in the Division Series.
I grew up a Cubs fan in Northwest Illinois and became an avid follower of the team during the Sosa-McGwire home run chase. Now I am the #1 Cubs fan in Toronto, Canada. You can find me on Twitter @Troll_Hamels (personal) and @farnorthsider (blog).