Delpercio: MLB Playoffs Recap

Graphic for NL East Column. - Graphics Editor / Julia Quennessen

What a weekend it was in the MLB. The 2022 MLB Playoffs got underway with some great games during Wild Card weekend. Right now the question is who will win the 2022 World Series, and while we don’t currently know the answer, we can eliminate four teams from the mix. 

American League Wild Card Series 1: #6 Tampa Bay Rays @ #3 Cleveland Guardians 

Cleveland! This is for you.

The three-seeded Cleveland Guardians became the first team to punch their ticket to the Division Series after their two-game sweep of the six-seeded Tampa Bay Rays. In what was easily the biggest pitcher’s duel of the weekend, the Guardians were able to win games one and two thanks to one swing of the bat. Guardians’ third baseman José Ramírez went deep in the sixth inning of the first game to deny the Rays of a potential shutdown inning and put the Guardians up 2-1, which was ultimately the final score. 

As for Game Two, it was a complete pitcher’s duel as the two teams combined to strike out 39 times in a game that lasted 15 innings. There seemed to be no end in sight until Guardians’ right fielder, Oscar Mercado, hit a lead-off home run in the bottom half of the 15th to send the Guardians to the American League Division Series, with a battle against the New York Yankees on deck. 

American League Wild Card Series 2: #5 Seattle Mariners @ #4 Toronto Blue Jays 

After being out of the playoffs for over two decades, the five-seeded Mariners marched into Toronto and swept the four-seeded Blue Jays to advance to their first ALDS since 2001.

Mariners’ starting pitcher Luis Castillo and catcher Cal Raleigh led Seattle to their first playoff win in 7,657 days with a 4-0 Game One victory. Raleigh set the tone in the first inning with a two-run home run off of Blue Jays’ ace Alek Manoah. Castillo took care of the rest, pitching seven and a third of scoreless baseball and striking out five. 

Game Two was much more of a grind for the Mariners, however, as they had to pull off an improbable comeback to beat the Blue Jays. The Jays lead 8-1 after five, but the Mariners continued to chip away at the Jays’ lead until eventually, second baseman Adam Frazier hit an RBI double down the right-field line to give the Mariners the lead in the ninth. Mariners’ reliever George Kirby retired the Blue Jays in the bottom half of the inning to set up a date against the Houston Astros. 

National League Wild Card Series 1: #6 Philadelphia Phillies @ #3 St. Louis Cardinals 

After the St. Louis Cardinals knocked them out of the playoffs and into an 11-year playoff drought, the Philadelphia Phillies finally got their revenge. The six-seeded Phillies went straight into St. Louis and shocked the three-seeded Cardinals, sweeping them and sending legends Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and potentially Adam Wainwright into retirement. 

Game One was a late-game thriller, as the Cardinals carried a 2-0 lead into the top of the ninth, but the Phillies rallied to put up six, including a go-ahead two-run single from second baseman Jean Segura against Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley which left everyone in Busch Stadium stunned. 

Philly carried that momentum into Game Two as designated hitter Bryce Harper hit a solo home run early to take the air out of the crowd and give the Phillies the lead. Starting pitcher Aaron Nola dominated the Cardinals’ hitters, allowing just five base runners across six and two-thirds innings to push the Phillies into the NLDS, with the reigning World Champion Atlanta Braves waiting for them. 

National League Wild Card Series 2: #5 San Diego Padres @ #4 New York Mets 

The only series to go to a third game, the five-seeded San Diego Padres went into New York and stunned the four-seeded New York Mets, taking two of three to advance to the NLDS.

The Padres’ bats exploded for a Game One win, as the team hit four home runs and scored seven runs off Mets’ ace Max Scherzer to beat the Mets 7-1 and jump out to an early 1-0 series lead.

Game Two was essentially an inverse of Game One, as the Mets bats exploded for seven runs, allowing them to tie the series at one and give us the only win-or-go-home game of the weekend.

Game Three was all San Diego, however, as starting pitcher Joe Musgrove and the rest of the Padres pitching staff allowed just four base runners all game. Padres’ catcher Austin Nola and right fielder Juan Soto combined to drive in four of San Diego’s six runs to lift them past the MLB’s fourth-best regular season team and into a best-of-five matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Looking Ahead 

The Guardians and Yankees matched up six times this season, with the Yankees winning five out of the six. The Yankees outscored the Guardians 40-12 across those six games.

The Mariners and Astros played each other 19 times this season, with Houston taking 12 of the 19 games this year. The average run differential in the 19 games was 3.9. 

The Phillies and Braves played each other 19 times this year, with the Braves taking 11 of the 19. Both teams split the first 12 games they played, winning six each, and ended their head-to-head season splitting a four-game series. 

The Padres and the Dodgers matched up 19 times this year, with the Dodgers taking 15 of the 19. The Dodgers never lost a series to the Padres this year and outscored San Diego 109-47 in their head-to-head games.

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