WCS ends in a ‘blowout’, 1-2 seeds nervous…LAD-ARI, HOU-TEX, ATL-PHI, BAL-MIN

The second-round postseason matchups are set.

All four games of the Wild Card Series (WCS) have been decided in two games. The Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Arizona Diamondbacks finished the best-of-three WCS with two wins to advance to the Division Series (DS).

The National League (NL) Central first-place Milwaukee Brewers and the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, and Miami Marlins, who earned the elusive Wild Card, suffered two losses in the process.

Minnesota won Game 2 against Toronto 2-0 on Friday behind a strong start from starter Sonny Gray and a game-winning shot from Carlos Correa. Gray pitched five innings of five-hit, two-walk, six-strikeout ball to earn his first career postseason victory. Minnesota broke a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the fourth inning with two runs on a bases-loaded single by Correa and an RBI single by Gleyber Castro. Toronto brought in Yusei Kikuchi in relief of starter Jose Berrios, but the bats went silent. They had nine hits, more than Minnesota, but struck out 12 times and had one walk, showing a lack of focus.

Texas won its second straight game with a 7-1 rout of Tampa Bay, extending its postseason run to the Division Series for the first time since 2016. Ace Nathan Eovaldi picked up the win, going 6⅔ innings and allowing one run on six hits with eight strikeouts. Corey Seager, Adolis Garcia, and Evan Carter all had solid performances at the plate.

Arizona pulled off the biggest upset of the WCS. After coming back from a 4-3 deficit in Game 1, the Cacti rallied from a 2-0 deficit in Game 2, scoring four runs on four hits and two walks, including Ketel Marte’s game-winning RBI double in the sixth inning. Starter Zach Galen earned his first career fall ball win with a quality start, allowing two runs on five hits in six innings.

The Phillies cruised past Miami, 7-1, to clear the first hurdle to a second straight NL pennant. Starter Aaron Nola earned the win with a dazzling seven innings of three-hit ball. Bryson Stott put the game away with a grand slam to right-center field in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 3-0 lead. Miami, which reached the postseason for the first time in 20 years after winning the 2003 World Series in a normal season, ended fall baseball in two days.

The waiting No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will be nervous, as all four teams that made it through the WCS with minimal fatigue will be playing the DS on two days’ rest.

The NL DS will be headlined by the Atlanta Braves-Philadelphia and LA Dodgers-Arizona matchups. Both series are between teams from the same district. Atlanta won the regular season 8-5 over Philadelphia. The key will be how well the Phillies’ top three starters – Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Taijuan Walker – can contain the raw firepower of Atlanta’s 307-homer lineup.

The Dodgers also swept Arizona in the regular season, 8-5. The Dodgers are led by starter Clayton Kershaw and rookie Bobby Miller. Arizona will have to hold off a Dodger batting lineup featuring Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman with a weak and depleted mound. Arizona met the Dodgers in the 2017 DS and were swept in three games.바카라사이트

The AL DS pits the Baltimore Orioles against Texas and the Houston Astros against Minnesota. Baltimore and Texas are expected to be tightly contested. Both teams went 3-3 in the regular season, with Baltimore having the better pitching and Texas the better hitting.

Houston, who won their district in the final game of the regular season, faced a tougher opponent in the DS. Minnesota swept Houston 4-2 in the regular season. All eyes will be on the bats of the Houston duo of Jose Altuve and Jordan Alvarez, who are both batting in the teens against Minnesota this season.

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