Highlights from the 2023 MLB Wild Card


Image Courtesy of Major League Baseball

By Zachary Lichter

The Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason has been underway since October 3rd, 2023, with 12 out of 30 teams looking for a chance to go to the World Series. The Postseason began with the League Wild Card Series; the action started early in the American League (AL) Wild Card Series this postseason, beginning with the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rangers starting pitcher, Jordan Montgomery, was on the mound, and he pitched 7.0 innings and struck out five batters. Pitching would become a big factor the next day in Game 2 with their starting pitcher, Nathan Eovaldi, on the mound as the Rangers were looking to punch their ticket to Baltimore. Meanwhile, the Rays were looking to stay alive and force Game 3. Still, it wasn’t enough as they would be going against their former pitcher, Nathan Eovaldi, who would help the Rangers sweep the Rays by pitching 6.2 innings and striking out eight batters, sending his team to Baltimore to play the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Division Series (ALDS).

The postseason action continued in Minneapolis as the Toronto Blue Jays were looking to go to the ALDS for the first time since 2016, while the Twins were looking to win a game in the postseason since 2002. The action began early in the first inning when the Twins’ third baseman, Royce Lewis, hit a two-run home run, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. He would then hit another home run in the third inning, where he contributed all three runs in Game 1, giving the Twins a 3-1 win. The next day, it was up to the Blue Jays starting pitcher José Berríos to shut out his former team in Game 2 but he wasn’t able to deliver because he gave up three hits and only lasted three innings. The Blue Jays would get swept by the Twins, sending them to Houston, where they would play the Houston Astros for the first time since the 2020 AL Wild Card Series.

“This is going to be a difficult feat as the Minnesota Twins have won a postseason series for the first time since 2002 when the Twins defeated the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS. It has become widely known that the Astros play a different game when it comes to the postseason,” Matthew Cutrona, a junior politics major and sports management and philosophy minor, said. “The Astros have consistently made the postseason since 2017 (6 seasons) as well as 2015 as the rebuild was coming to an end. One thing the Twins will have to perfect is limiting their mistakes from the pitching side and solidifying their defense. The focus should now be to limit their damage so it continues to be a close game.”

Over in the National League, the Arizona Diamondbacks made their first appearance in the postseason since 2017. As they were losing 3-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1, they rallied in the third inning when their left fielder, Corbin Caroll, and second baseman, Ketel Marte, hit back-to-back home runs, tying the game up at three runs a piece. The Diamondbacks catcher, Gabriel Moreno, gave the Diamondbacks a 4-3 lead when he hit a solo home run in the fourth inning. The Diamondbacks won Game 1, putting the Brewers on the brink of elimination. A similar story unfolded the next day in Game 2 as they were losing 2-1 against the Brewers in the 6th inning. Marte hit a two-run single to give the Diamondbacks a 3-2 lead. The Diamondbacks eliminated the Brewers in Game 2, sending them to Los Angeles, where they are playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series (NLDS).

The Miami Marlins have been hoping to return to the NLDS since 2020; meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies began their quest for redemption as they are looking to return to the World Series after losing to the Astros last year. The Phillies started right where they left off last postseason, with Zack Wheeler on the mound pitching 6.2 innings and striking out eight batters to give the Phillies the win in Game 1. The next day, in Game 2, the Phillies continued to dominate against the Marlins with their hitting. The Phillies left fielder, Kyle Schwarber, opened up the scoring by hitting a double, giving the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the third inning. The game got exciting for Phillies fans at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia when their second baseman, Bryson Stott, hit a grand slam in the sixth inning, giving the Phillies a 7-1 lead and sending the Phillies back to the NLDS and a rematch against the Atlanta Braves.

“The Phillies are indeed a dangerous team coming into the NLDS against the Braves,” David Fritz III, a junior accounting major and philosophy minor said. “They swept the Marlins in the Wild Card series and will be looking to carry that momentum forward. The addition of Trea Turner and a stronger bullpen will make the Phillies more formidable in this matchup than last year. I think they’ll pull the upset again.”

Since the reform of the postseason format in 2022, this was the first time all four League Wild Card Series ended with a sweep. The League Division Series is underway, and the Diamondbacks, Phillies, Rangers, and Twins will look for ways to beat their opponents. The question for all four teams coming into this series is: can all four teams carry the momentum from the League Wild Card Series into the Divisional Series? Time will tell what will happen in the postseason. But right now, the Diamondbacks, Phillies, Rangers, Twins, Astros, Braves, Dodgers, and Orioles are playing for a chance to go to the League Championship Series.

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