By JOSH COOK
Two game-163s for the first time in MLB history; Dodgers and Brewers clinch
Playoffs kicked off this week, fields are set and the hunt for November is on.
The Dodgers and Rockies partook in a game 163 to decide the winner of the NL West, with the Dodgers coming out on top and clinching their sixth straight division title. The Dodgers were able to secure a 5-2 victory, scoring all five of their runs in the 4th, 5th and 6th inning. The Rockies’ stars tried to bring them back with late-game heroics, as Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story both hit home-runs in the 9th inning.
The Brewers and Cubs also took part in a game 163 to decide the NL Central. The Brewers were able to shut down the Cub’s lineup, allowing just 3 hits and one run all game long. The Brew Crew won 3-1 off RBIs from MVP candidate Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun to secure an NL Central title and avoid a play-in game.
The Brewers finished the season stronger than any other team, winning their last eight in a row and ten out of their eleven final games, to erase a five-game division lead by the Cubs, who went 16-13 in September – not exactly a collapse. Christian Yelich has been the story all year for the Brewers, as he has charged throughout the last month to become the front-runner for NL MVP. Yelich nearly captured the triple-crown in baseball (leading in avg., HR and RBIs), but came up two home runs short of Nolan Arenado and one RBI short of Javier Baez. Yelich did win the batting title, as he finished the season with a .326 average, 36 homers and 110 RBIs.
Milwaukee hasn’t exactly cleared a path though. They ended the season with the best record in the NL, and will have to play the winner of the Rockies vs Cubs play-in game (last night). If they can hold off the winner of that game, they’ll have home-field advantage to take on the winner of the Dodgers vs Braves matchup.
The Dodgers jumped out to a quick lead against the Rockies in their game 163 and never looked back. The Dodgers finished with the third best record in the NL, behind the Brewers and Cubs, and will play the Braves in the first round. It’s quite funny how the NL turned out this season. The Braves, at 90-72, have the worst record of all the ten playoff teams. Yet, out of all NL teams, they were the only one who knew their fate before the last day of the season.
The AL also finished the season, but with much less pizzazz. The Yankees and Athletics will battle in a play-in game to decide who faces the Red Sox in the first round. These teams will compete to play the winner of Astros vs Indians in round one.
I have to say, as a person who has been consistently, and with great attention, watching baseball for nearly 15 years now, this is the craziest conclusion to a season I’ve ever seen and I have no idea what is going to happen in the playoffs. I’ve never seen there be this many great teams in the playoffs. Honestly, the only teams I can for sure eliminate in my mind are the Braves and Athletics. I don’t think the A’s will beat the Yankees and the Braves just don’t have the pitching to deal with the Dodger’s lineup for a full series. Two weeks ago, I would have been able to eliminate the Brewers, but with them peaking at the perfect time who knows what will go down. Their pitching has been a pleasant surprise for them and if they can keep pitching how they have the last two weeks, I’m not sure there’s a team in the NL that can stop them.
Early Prediction: Cubs vs Dodgers rematch in NL title. Astros vs Yankees for AL title. Astros vs Cubs world series with the ‘Stros winning in six. Now, that will for sure be messed up by next week, but it’s what feels right to me currently. Watch out for Alex Bregman to hit above .350 in the playoffs, that dude can play the heck out of this sport.