For the first time in Major League Baseball history, there were not one, but two tiebreaker games at the end of the regular season. One was in order to determine the head of the NL Central and the other was to determine the head of the NL West. These game 163s were the Brewers versus the Cubs and the Rockies versus the Dodgers.
The first game that took place on October 1st was the battle for the NL Central between the Brewers and the Cubs. Milwaukee gave the nod to Jhoulys Chacín, with the Cubs sending out José Quintana for this single game all out brawl. From the very beginning this game was primarily a pitching duel between the two ball clubs. Each starting pitcher only allowed one run out of their 5+ innings of work. The Brewers were able to score first due to a two out single from Christian Yelich in the third, but the Cubs tied that score two innings later off of an Anthony Rizzo solo home run. Both teams ended up turning to their bullpens in order to try and hold down the game. Unfortunately for the Cubs, their bullpen would be the one to yield. In the top of the eighth inning, Justin Wilson came into the game replacing Jesse Chavez. Wilson would proceed to give up a single to Orlando Arcia and then a double to pinch hitter Domingo Santana to put runners on second and third with no outs. In an effort to get out of the situation unscathed, the Cubs pulled Wilson and replaced him with Steve Cishek. The first batter Cishek faced was Lorenzo Cain who singled to centerfield, scoring Arcia from third. Two batters later Cishek gave up another single to Ryan Braun, and the Brewers took a 3-1 lead that they never gave up afterwards.
It is not surprising that the Brewers were able to pull off this victory against the Cubs. As soon as Milwaukee brought their bullpen in with the game tied, I assumed it was a lock. The Brewers have one of, if not the best bullpen in the major leagues right now. Josh Hader, who recorded the 6 out save, has been absolutely lights out on the mound. They also have Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress who have seen their talents rekindled in the month of September. Add on top of that a dominate lineup with possible NL MVP Christian Yelich, it just made sense to me. The Brewers will now go on to be the number one seed throughout the NL side of the playoffs and the Cubs will be at home for their NL Wildcard matchup.
The second game that took place was between the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The starters for this marquee matchup were German Márquez for the Rockies and possible NL Rookie of the Year Walker Buehler for the Dodgers. This game wasn’t as nail biting as the previous one, and was actually more lopsided in favor of the Dodgers. After three innings of just a couple base runners for the Dodgers, they were finally able to strike some gold in the fourth. Cody Bellinger was able to smack a two run shot to allow the Dodgers to take the lead. Soon after in the following inning Max Muncy did the same thing to put the Dodgers up 4-0. Then Buehler, who had a no hit bid up until the sixth inning, hit a single in the sixth to drive in a fifth run for the Dodgers. The Rockies couldn’t get anything going offensively against the Dodgers for a majority of the game, but had a little glimmer of hope in the bottom of the ninth. Kenley Jansen actually allowed back to back solo shots to Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story to make the final score of the game 5-2.
Those couple of home runs might just be what the Rockies need to ignite them when they play the Cubs for the NL Wildcard spot. The long ball has been what allows teams to go out and win games. It clearly helped the Dodgers take the NL West, and it will help the Rockies get far in the postseason if they can have their bats wake up just a little bit. The Dodgers sit in a more secure position now as they will now play the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS at home to start off the series.
Overall, postseason baseball is just beginning, and we are already having excitement and crazy antics happening. I can already tell that this is going to be a season to remember so make sure to buckle up and stream every game because I am sure you are not going to want to miss a single minute of the action.
—- Logan Stevens (@LoganStevensMLB on Twitter)