Major League Baseball’s best-of-three wild card series begin Friday, a quadruple-header to kick off the first year with an expanded 12-team postseason field.
Friday’s winners will have the chance to advance to the best-of-five Division Series on Saturday, with if-necessary Game 3s scheduled for Sunday.
In the Cleveland-Tampa Bay opener, Guardians pitcher Shane Bieber gave up one earned run in 7 ⅔ innings and Jose Ramirez’s two-run homer was all they needed in a 2-1 win over the Rays.
Trailing the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 entering the ninth inning, the Philadelphia Phillies rallied to score six runs in the frame and hang on to win 6-3 – stunning the fans at Busch Stadium.
Playing their first postseason game since 2001, the Seattle Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 behind 7 ⅓ scoreless innings from starter Luis Castillo.
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Keep it here all day Friday for updates, scores and highlights from around the league:
Game 1 schedule, Friday
Trent Grisham tacks on another homer for padres
Padres outfielder Trent Grisham hit a solo home run with two outs in the second inning against Max Scherzer, extending San Diego’s lead to 3-0. Grisham hit .184 in the regular season.
The Mets had an opportunity to bounce back in the bottom of the first, but couldn’t get a run in with men on first and third with one out.
Josh Bell homers off Max Scherzer in the first
After struggled mightily since his trade to San Diego, Josh Bell connected on a two-run homer against Mets starter Max Scherzer in the first inning to give the Padres an early 2-0 lead.
Scherzer gave up a leadoff single to Jurickson Profar before retiring Juan Soto and Manny Machado. On a 3-1 pitch, Bell took Scherzer way out the park to left field.
Mariners mark postseason return by shutting out Blue Jays
Luis Castillo and Andrés Muñoz combined on a shutout, Cal Raleigh hit a two-run homer and the Seattle Mariners won in their first postseason game since 2001, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 Friday in their AL wild-card series opener.
Eugenio Suárez had two hits and two RBIs and rookie Julio Rodríguez reached base three times and scored twice for the Mariners, who can wrap up the series with a win in Game 2 on Saturday. The series winner plays AL West champion Houston in the Division Series starting Tuesday in Texas.
Castillo scattered six singles in 7 ⅓ innings. He struck out five and walked none, facing the second-highest scoring team in the AL.
– Associated Press
Phillies rally in ninth to stun Cardinals
The Phillies came roaring back in the ninth inning, sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring six runs off the stingy St. Louis bullpen. Phillies second baseman Jean Segura hit a bases-loaded single off right-hander Andre Pallante to give Philadelphia a 3-2 lead. The Phillies tacked on three more runs for a 6-2 lead.
The Cardinals, who were 74-3 on the season when leading after eight innings, were poised to put away another close game.
The Cardinals were able to muster a run in the bottom of the ninth, but the Phillies would hang on and steal Game 1 at Busch Stadium with a 6-3 victory.
Manoah uncharacteristically roughed up in first
Blue Jays ace Alec Manoah was roughed up in the first inning against the Mariners, uncharacteristically giving up three runs. Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez singled, Eugenio Suarez knocked him in with a double and Cal Raleigh went yard. Mariners 3, Blue Jays 0.
New October hero: Juan Yepez
Cardinals rookie Juan Yepez, with 12 regular season home runs, smashed a go-ahead, pinch-hit two-run home run on the first postseason pitch he saw to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning.
The Cardinals franchise has been around since 1900. That was the first pinch-hit, go-ahead home run in Cardinals postseason history.
Pitchers duel in St. Louis
Zack Wheeler and Jose Quintana did not allow a run in their start. Game 1 comes down to the bullpens.
Pujols back in the postseason at Busch Stadium
Albert Pujols gets a rousing cheer from Cardinals fans during pregame introductions. It’s his first postseason game at Busch Stadium since Game 7 of the 2011 World Series.
And again before his first at-bat.
Shane Bieber tosses gem in Guardians win
Behind an ace-like performance from Shane Bieber and a clutch home run from Jose Ramirez, the Guardians beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 in Friday’s Game 1 of the American League wild card series at Progressive Field.
Bieber was masterful outside of one fastball to Jose Siri, tossing 7 ⅔ innings on 99 pitches to earn the victory. Bieber, rocked in his only other playoff appearance two years ago, allowed just three hits and struck out eight before being lifted with a runner on in the eighth.
BOX SCORE: Guardians 2, Rays 1
Jose Ramirez puts Guardians ahead
After Tampa Bay’s Jose Siri hit a solo home run in the top of the sixth off Cleveland starter Shane Bieber to open the scoring, Guardians slugger Jose Ramirez connected on a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning to put his team ahead. The score held on as the Guardians won 2-1.
Are you ready kids?
For those not familiar with the Guardians’ clean up hitter, Oscar Gonzalez’s walk-up music is the theme song to Spongebob Squarepants.
Gonzalez, who made his MLB debut on May 26, was asked about his song choice back in May.
“Because kids love that song and this is a kid’s game after all. I’ve had it since Triple-A.”
Will Albert Pujols go out on top?
Albert Pujols, 42, is playing in the final postseason of his 22-year career, beginning Friday afternoon against the Philadelphia Phillies in a best-of-three wild-card series at sold-out Busch Stadium.
When the teams line up for introductions, Pujols will get the longest ovation. When he comes to the plate for the first time during the game, he’ll get another one , as fans grab their cell phones and take pictures for posterity. They’ll do the same thing every time he comes to bat
“Man, I missed that feeling of playing this time of year,’’ Pujols says. “These guys have given me the joy, the thrill, of being back in the postseason. This is what we play for.
“This is why I came back.”
– Bob Nightengale
Mets postseason roster: Starling Marte returns, Francisco Alvarez in the squad
All-Star right fielder Starling Marte was included on the New York Mets’ roster Friday for their wild-card series against the San Diego Padres and could make his first appearance since Sept. 6.
Marte has been sidelined since breaking the middle finger on his right (throwing) hand when hit by a 96 mph fastball from Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller.
New York also included 20-year-old Francisco Álvarez, who debuted Sept. 30 and went 2 for 12 with a homer, a double and two walks in five games.
– Associated Press
All-Star batsman Alejandro Kirk is an X-factor for Toronto
“He’s the best. He’s the man,” Blue Jays outfielder George Springer says of Alejandro Kirk, the club’s catcher and designated hitter. “His smile is something everybody loves and he likes to have fun.”
October often shines brightest on those who make contact, who swing not for the fences but with purpose. Kirk, who has struck out just 57 times in 468 at-bats, might be the perfect playoff concoction for a Jays team with plenty of muscle and star power.
“What he’s done at the plate – as I watch pitchers try to find his weakness as the season goes on – there’s really not one,” says Toronto starter Kevin Gausman. “He can hit the high ball really well for a short guy, he can hit the low ball well, he’s an exceptional off-speed hitter.”
– Gabe Lacques
Twitter to air live look-ins during MLB playoffs
Twitter will offer live broadcast look-ins throughout Major League Baseball’s postseason for the first time.
ESPN, Fox and other broadcasters of playoff games will be able to show the look-ins on their social media accounts, and live action will also be show on MLB’s official account. There isn’t a limit on how long each look-in can last.
Twitter will be the only social media platform to officially stream live look-ins during the postseason, which begins Friday with four wild-card round games.
– Associated Press
Mets have reason to be confident
Having lost out on the NL East title, the Mets’ path to the World Series may have gotten tougher with a best-of-three series against the Padres beginning on Friday, but they have proven throughout the season that they are able to rise through adversity.
Whether it was an early-season injury to Jacob deGrom, midseason injury to Max Scherzer or getting hit by a pitch an MLB record 112 times, the Mets have managed to bounce back more often than not when a speed bump arises.
In the postseason, anything can happen. Ask last season’s Braves squad.
“Everybody starts 0-0. It’s a new time of the year,” Francisco Lindor said. “We’ve got to focus on what we have in front of our feet. It’s a blessing to be in the playoffs. To be in the playoffs is a blessing. At the end of the day, I don’t care whether it’s a Wild Card or World Series, it’s an honor, it’s a privilege to be here. Not everybody gets to be here.”
– Andrew Tredinnick, NorthJersey.com