MLB Wild Card Day 1 Recap and Game 2 Essentials

Photo of MLB Wild Card Day 1

The 2023 MLB postseason began with the start of the best-of-three wild-card round, featuring the participation of eight teams on the inaugural day. In the American League, the first game witnessed the Texas Rangers emerging victorious against the Tampa Bay Rays, while the Minnesota Twins broke their 18-game postseason home losing streak by defeating the Toronto Blue Jays.

In the evening, the National League took center stage, with the Arizona Diamondbacks causing an upset against the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Philadelphia Phillies prevailing against the Miami Marlins. We have you covered with insights, real-time updates, and analysis from the Day 1 matches, along with a notable point to consider for each Game 2.

Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 Miami Marlins

In Game 1 of their MLB wild-card series, the Philadelphia Phillies secured a 4-1 victory against the Miami Marlins, a matchup that initially appeared quite lopsided among the four MLB wild card series. During this game, Zack Wheeler effectively held the Marlins scoreless until the seventh inning, and the Phillies managed to deliver impactful hits against Jesus Luzardo, with five of their eight hits from him reaching speeds of 104 mph or higher.

Although the Phillies faced some challenges in this win, including the Marlins scoring a run in the seventh inning and having the potential tying run on base, Jose Alvarado came in and made a remarkable 94-mph cutter pitch to strike out Yuli Gurriel, diffusing the threat. In the eighth inning, the Marlins had an opportunity to level the game, but Jeff Hoffman entered the game and induced Jorge Soler to ground out.

If the Phillies’ bullpen continues to perform at a high level, particularly considering its increased depth and strength compared to last year, they have the potential for a deeper postseason run beyond just defeating the Marlins, as noted by David Schoenfield.

A key point to consider for Game 2 is that in the previous postseason, the Phillies heavily relied on the formidable duo of Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola to lead them deep into October. While Wheeler delivered an impressive performance in Game 1, Nola has not replicated his prior year’s success, as his regular-season ERA rose from 3.25 last season to 4.46 in 2023. Whether Nola can rediscover his playoff prowess will be pivotal in determining the Phillies’ success in the upcoming games this month.

Arizona Diamondbacks 6-3 Milwaukee Brewers

In a game where the Arizona Diamondbacks secured a 6-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, they showcased a different strategy despite the pre-series emphasis on their speed. Instead, they leaned into their power game, hitting three home runs over two innings against Milwaukee’s ace, Corbin Burnes.

The home run spree began with a massive 440-foot blast from Corbin Carroll, a strong contender for NL Rookie of the Year. Carroll, known for his 59 stolen bases during the season, displayed that he also possesses significant hitting prowess.

For the Brewers, the story of Game 1 is one of squandered opportunities. On two occasions, they loaded the bases but failed to score, including a crucial moment with no outs in the fifth inning. After Brice Turang struck out, Tyrone Taylor appeared to have a potential game-changing single to left field.

However, Evan Longoria, who was not a guaranteed starter in this game and will be celebrating his 38th birthday on Saturday, made a remarkable lunging, leaping, and tumbling catch, which he promptly turned into a game-altering double play.

Longoria stressed the importance of such critical moments before the game, stating, “Many of these games will come down to one or two pivotal moments. We need to be prepared for those.” He certainly lived up to his words, and as a result, Arizona took a 1-0 lead in the series, with Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly slated for the next two games.

Looking ahead to Game 2, the Brewers will send Freddy Peralta to the mound. Winning the opening game on the road is always a positive start, but for the Diamondbacks, it positions them particularly well for a potential upset in the series. Now, Arizona will rely on their ace, Gallen, in Game 2, with Kelly ready to step in if needed for Game 3. This matchup comes as the Brewers contend with the absence of the injured Brandon Woodruff.

Minnesota Twins 3- 1 Toronto Blue Jays

The end of an era has arrived! The Twins’ long-standing postseason struggles, which spanned an astonishing 18 games and dated back to 2004, have at last concluded. This extended period of frustration has finally been lifted, instilling newfound optimism that the Twins could emerge as an unexpected contender in the wide-open AL playoff field. Of particular note is the outstanding performance of Royce Lewis, a rookie who had been sidelined since September 19 due to a hamstring injury.

In a remarkable comeback, Lewis hammered two home runs and contributed three RBIs against the formidable Kevin Gausman. Gausman’s decision to challenge Lewis with a 3-2 four-seamer in the first inning, instead of his trademark splitter, turned out to be a questionable pitch selection, as Lewis seized the opportunity with a two-run home run—mirroring his regular-season success.

With Sonny Gray set to take the mound in Game 2 against a Toronto lineup that doesn’t exactly strike fear into opponents (as evidenced by Cavan Biggio batting fifth), the Twins may have a legitimate chance at securing their first postseason series win since the 2002 ALDS. – Schoenfield

One crucial aspect to consider for Game 2: Minnesota is riding a wave of confidence after finally putting an end to their postseason losing streak in Game 1. Now, their aim is to secure a spot in the ALDS against a familiar face in Game 2.

Toronto’s starter, Jose Berrios, spent the initial six years of his career with the Twins before being traded to the Blue Jays during the 2021 trade deadline. Berrios faces a challenging task in his return to Target Field, where he’ll encounter the All-Star Sonny Gray on the mound for the Twins.

Texas Rangers 4-0 Tampa Bay Rays

While the trade for Max Scherzer generated considerable buzz during the trade deadline, Rangers General Manager Chris Young’s decision to acquire a second starting pitcher has proven to be a prudent move.

Jordan Montgomery delivered a commanding performance against the formidable Tampa Bay offense, pitching seven scoreless innings in the Rangers’ 4-0 victory. Over his past five starts, he has allowed just two runs in 34 innings, establishing himself as a potential postseason standout, despite his unorthodox style as a pitcher who doesn’t heavily rely on strikeouts.

Another notable showing came from rookie left fielder Evan Carter, who batted 2-for-2 with two doubles and two walks (although it should be noted that Yandy Diaz had an opportunity to make a play on one of the doubles).

Carter, a mere 21 years old, made his MLB debut on September 8 and has already demonstrated star potential at the plate, boasting an impressive 1.058 OPS in his 23 regular-season games. It’s noteworthy that he occupies the ninth spot in the Rangers’ lineup, a testament to the team’s potent batting order.

The Rays had a lackluster performance, committing four errors. Manager Kevin Cash’s decision to leave Tyler Glasnow in the game to start the sixth inning raised questions, as Glasnow walked the first two batters, enabling the Rangers to secure the victory with two additional runs. – Schoenfield

One crucial detail to bear in mind for Game 2: After a regular season in which they achieved 99 wins, the Rays are entrusting their destiny to Zach Eflin, who became the franchise’s highest-paid free agent signing last offseason.

Eflin displayed his finest form at Tropicana Field this year, amassing an 11-4 record with a 3.30 ERA and an average of 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings, in contrast to a 5-4 record with a 3.77 ERA and 8.0 K/9 on the road.


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