Prof: Well, folks, we had two tiebreak games in the National League. It was a thrill a minute in the NL Central decider, while the NL West was a little less so. But let’s discuss each game, and then move onto the Playoff Rosters!
NL CENTRAL – Milwaukee Brewers vs Chicago Cubs
Brewers 3, Cubs 1 – The Brewers, long considered a rag-tag group of also-rans in the NL Central, gutted it out on enemy ground to win the decisive victory and clinch the Central crown, pushing their hated rivals to the NL Wild Card play-in. Not bad for a team that, a month ago, had about an 8% chance of winning the division.
Milwaukee started off strong; your probable NL MVP (and Gator’s homeboy) Christian Yelich hit a one run single in the third inning. In the fifth, Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo answered with a solo homer. It was all tied up until the eighth, looking very much like the game might head off into extra innings…until the wheels fell off the Cubs’ bullpen. Chicago cycled through four relievers and gave up two runs off the bats of Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun. It was all the offense the Brew Crew needed. Now they had to rely on their most powerful weapon – their vaunted relief corps.
It had started in the seventh inning, when Corey “Evil” Knebel came out and set the tone for Milwaukee. Heading into the eighth, Craig Counsell brought out one of the most clutch closers in the game this season, Josh Hader. Hader got the save, Knebel the win, and Milwaukee gets their first division title since 2011.
NL WEST – Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Colorado Rockies
Rockies 2, Dodgers 5 – Unlike the Brewers, Los Angeles pretty much owns the west. This is their sixth straight division title, and it wasn’t even close. The Dodgers raced to the finish, pouring it on towards the end of the regular season. In my opinion, trading for Manny Machado lit a fire into a team that had been disheartened by the loss of Corey Seager among other freak injuries earlier in the season. It also helped that Max Muncy came out of nowhere and put the team on his back.
Muncy, as well as Cody Bellinger, hit two run homers while the explosive talent of rookie Walker Buehler was in force with a beautiful one hit pitching performance going into the seventh inning, even getting a knock in the sixth inning which brought home Kiké Hernandez. With Clayton Kershaw showing signs of being human, the Dodgers will need Buehler to be a strong horse going into the playoffs, and this performance did not disappoint. The Rox didn’t even get on the board until the ninth inning and it seemed to have been an afterthought – solo homers from Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story.
So… what happens next?
For the AL, we have the Yankees and Athletics meeting in the Wild Card play-in. Winner meets the Red Sox. Cleveland matches up against Houston for the right to move forward.
In the NL, it’s the Rockies vs the Cubs at venerable Wrigley Field for the one game Wild Card special. Winner plays against Milwaukee. On the other side, it’s the Dodgers vs Atlanta in a grudge match from 2013.
Who ya got, fam? What, to you, is the best story? Obviously I want the Braves to go as far as possible (seems a bit doubtful because of the Dansby Swanson injury), but in lieu of that, a Brewers World Series would be great fun and highly enjoyable for me.