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MLB postseason: What we saw in the Wild Card round

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A breakdown of the first series of the postseason

MLB: Wildcard-St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

With the shortened 2020 regular season, we saw the introduction of a new postseason format. Ostensibly created to add more excitement to the first days of October by allowing a whopping 16 teams to participate instead of the usual 10, what we saw was... well, it was nothing short of fascinating, a little infuriating, and probably something most fans hope to never see again.

When the dust settled on Friday October 2, what was remained for the Division Series was surprising to say the least, and we saw a few bits of history along the way.

However you felt about the new format, you can’t say it wasn’t interesting to watch.

Central Division?

Of the 16 teams that made it to the Wild Card series, seven of them were from Central divisions, with the Twins, Indians, White Sox, Cubs, Cardinals, Red, and Brewers all making their way to the postseason. Once the Wild Card was over, not a single Central division team remained.

For the Cubs, it meant a bitter taste of history repeating as the Marlins swept their series, and remained undefeated in postseason series. For the Twins it meant a curse continued, as they lost their 18th straight postseason game.

Historical Moments

A few big moments, and nearly big moments, came up during the postseason, as the Reds and Braves starred in the longest scoreless game in postseason history, playing into the thirteenth inning before Freddie Freeman won it for Atlanta. Notably the Braves were also involved in the longest postseason game by innings when they went 18 against the Astros on October 9, 2005.

The Rays saw the first grand slam in their team’s postseason history as Hunter Renfroe blasted one in the second game of their series against the Jays to put them up 7-0 against their Eastern division rivals. Rays reliever Pete Fairbanks also became the first pitcher in almost 29 years to have no saves in the regular season but to get one in the postseason, during game one of the series.

Lucas Giolito — who already has a no-hitter in 2020 — took a perfect game into the seventh inning for the White Sox against the Oakland Athletics before Tommy La Stella was the foil. The A’s went on to win the series, but Giolito has done plenty to put his name on the map this season.

Highlights

In a must-win game for the San Diego Padres, with the Friars down by four runs in the bottom of the sixth, Fernando Tatis Jr showed why he’s one of the most exciting players of this new generation.

As mentioned earlier, the Rays made team history with this moonshot from Hunter Renfroe.

This Marcell Ozuna selfie moment.

This one is more of a lowlight, but it highlights why the Astros have gone from beloved underdogs to heel-turn villains in only three short seasons.

Who is playing next week?

The matches are now set for the Division Series, and it’s going to be interesting. Part of what made the Wild Card series so interesting was seeing how teams that hadn’t faced each other all regular season fared. The Yankees rose to the top over the Indians, the A’s crushed the White Sox, the Astros swept the Twins in spite of Minnesota’s better regular season record. Meanwhile divisional rivals looked mighty similar as they did in the regular season, with AL best-record Rays crushing the Jays.

In the ALDS we see familiar teams squaring off as the Rays face the Yankees (a regular season record of 8-2 for the Rays), and the A’s face the Astros (a regular season record of 7-3 for the A’s). Will these matchups look more like what we saw during the season?

In the NLDS NL West rivals the Dodgers and Padres will face off. Not only do the Dodgers have the best record in baseball this season, they also have a 6-4 record in the regular season against the Padres. Likewise the Braves and Marlins are familiar with each other this year, and the Braves also have a 6-4 record over their Floridian rivals.

With known enemies squaring off against each other, will we see any new upsets or will things look much like they did in the regular season (which would see Rays vs. A’s in the ALCS and Dodgers vs. Braves in the NLCS.)

Here’s the Division Series breakdown.

MLB.com