By Carrie Teti || Staff Writer
The League Division Series is finished, and only four teams remain in the MLB postseason. The Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Philadelphia Phillies have all advanced to the League Championship Series, which starts this week. Two of these teams will make it to the World Series. Will we see a rematch of the 2022 World Series between the Astros and the Phillies, or will two new teams compete for the Commissioner’s Trophy? We will find out soon as these four teams battle for the pennant.
The matchups for the ALDS and NLDS were set quickly, with each best-of-three Wild Card Series being decided in only two games. In the American League, the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers defeated the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays, while in the National League, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Milwaukee Brewers and the Miami Marlins. These teams advanced to face the four top-seeded teams in the MLB: the Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Atlanta Braves. The League Division Series reminded us that anything can happen in postseason baseball, as three of these top four teams, each with over 100 wins in the regular season, have been eliminated. Here’s a recap of some of the most exciting moments of last week’s Division Series as we prepare to see which two teams come out of the League Championship Series with a pennant.
ALDS: Twins vs. Astros
Of the four top-seeded teams that did not compete in the Wild Card Series, the Astros are the only one to advance to the Championship Series. The Astros did this by striking out the Twins at a high rate and hitting home runs. Although the Twins hit five home runs, the defending champion Astros outdid them with ten, starting with a first-pitch homer by Jose Altuve in Game 1 leading to a 3-2 win. After a 6-2 loss in Game 2 off of great games from Carlos Correa and Kyle Farmer, the Astros crushed the Twins 9-1 in Game 3, with home runs from Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, and two from José Abreu. On Wednesday, the Astros beat the Twins 3-2 in Game 4, again sending them to the ALCS.
ALDS: Rangers vs. Orioles
With the Astros winning the AL West on the final day of the regular season, the Rangers came into the playoffs with a chip on their shoulders. After sweeping the Blue Jays in the wild-card round, the Rangers went on to sweep the first-seeded Orioles. Their bullpen got into some jams in Game 1, but they escaped with a 3-2 win. The Rangers won again in Game 2, which was highlighted by a grand slam by Mitch Garver in the third inning leading to an 11-8 final score. In Game 3, the Rangers won again, a 7-1 blowout. In the five games of the Wild Card Series and the ALDS, the Rangers did not lose a single game.
NLDS: Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers
Like the Rangers, the Diamondbacks also did not lose any games in the Wild Card Series or the NLDS. They started hot early, with Dodgers ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw being pulled early, after giving up six runs in the first inning of Game 1, and only recording one out. The Diamondbacks continued their beat-down on the 100-win Dodgers in Game 2, winning 4-2. In Game 3 on Wednesday, they made history, becoming the first team in MLB postseason history to hit four home runs in a single inning. Those homers allowed the Diamondbacks to sweep the Dodgers, with the final game of the series ending in a final score of 4-2.
NLDS: Phillies vs. Braves
I’m a die-hard Phillies fan, so I might spend a bit longer on this one, which might have been the most exciting Division Series of 2023. The Phillies vs. Braves series was an exciting rematch of last year’s NLDS when the Phillies beat the Braves 3-1. This year, the series ended with the same outcome. In Game 1, the Phillies pulled their starting pitcher Ranger Suárez after only 3 ⅔ innings, a shocking decision to many. Phillies manager Rob Thomson explained he based his decision to use the rest of the bullpen on the MLB rest policies, and that he wanted to make sure Suarez could pitch again later in the series before the off day. Fresh off plenty of rest, Suárez and the bullpen stepped up and helped the Phillies shut out the Braves at home for the first time since 2021. Philadelphia’s offense was highlighted by a home run by Bryce Harper off of Braves ace pitcher Spencer Strider. But the Phillies’ momentum was stunted quickly when they suffered a devastating loss in Game 2 on Monday. After leading 4-0 going into the sixth inning, they lost the game 5-4 after a pair of home runs by Travis d’Arnaud and Austin Riley at the top of the eighth inning. The game ended with a double play off of a Nick Castellanos fly to center field, with an impressive catch from Michael Harris II. In the dugout, Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia could be heard mocking Harper after he was tagged out in the previous double play, and Harper responded in a big way when the series moved to Philadelphia for Game 3. The Phillies hit six home runs, tied for the most of any team in a single game in postseason history. Harper hit two of them, sending a message to Arcia by staring him down both times he rounded the bases. Trea Turner and Brandon Marsh also homered in this game, and Nick Castellanos went deep twice. Castellanos made even more history in Game 4 when he hit two more home runs, becoming the first player in MLB history with back-to-back multi-home run games in the postseason. He helped the Phillies win that game 3-1, sending them to the NLDS for the second year in a row.
Sophomore Carrie Teti is a staff writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.