This year, the MLB regular season was a sprint, and the drama kept coming right down to the finish line. On the final day of the regular season, the Brewers snuck into a postseason spot, joining the Astros as two teams to have lost more games than they won.
Their reward for securing the No. 8 seed in the National League was to take on the perpetually-postseason-bound Dodgers. And the LA side – who had the best record of anyone in MLB during the regular season – kept up their red-hot form to sweep Milwaukee in two games and book their place in the NLDS for the eighth season running.
After seeing 18 players make their Major League debuts over the last two months, the Marlins made an improbable run to the postseason, squaring off against the Cubs, and taking the upper hand with a 5-1 victory in Game 1, before the following night’s match-up fell victim to inclement weather in the Windy City.
Also defying odds in the NL were the Cardinals, who had 17 days off during the season due to virus-related concerns, played 53 games in 44 days and saw 13 debuts of their own before taking on the Padres.
The visitors impressed in a 7-4 triumph in Game 1, but heroics – and an already-iconic bat flip by Fernando Tatis Jr. – helped tie things up as the sides head for Game 3.
The Braves hosted the final NL Wild Card Series matchup against the Reds, with NL Player of the Month Freddie Freeman leading Atlanta to the No. 2 seed and NL Pitcher of the Month Trevor Bauer helping Cincinnati to the No. 7 spot.
Game 1 truly went the distance, with Freeman delivering the goods to knock in the only run of the game and draw a line under proceedings after 13 nailbiting innings. A 5-0 win in Game 2 made for more relaxing viewing for Braves fans, as they won their first postseason series since 2001.
In the American League, the Rays clinched the top spot and secured a home series against the Blue Jays. They rode their momentum into the Wild Card Series, following up a 3-1 triumph in Game 1 with a decisive 8-2 win the following night.
Meanwhile, the Yankees faced the Indians in Cleveland, with the Pinstripers’ reward for finishing fifth in the AL to take on pitching triple-crown winner Shane Bieber. New York chased Bieber early to secure a victory in the first game of the series aided by 13 Gerrit Cole strikeouts, before wrapping things up with a 10-9 comeback victory in Game 2.
The Twins clinched their second-straight AL Central title on the final day of the regular season, and so faced the Astros in their Wild Card Series. In the opener, Minnesota extended its streak to 17 consecutive postseason losses, dating back to 2004,and couldn’t snap the skid as Houston promptly took Game 2 and the series.
The A’s were helped to the No. 2 spot in the AL by Pitcher of the Month Chris Bassitt, and took on the White Sox, who had lost seven of their last eight games heading into the playoffs. A Lucas Giolito masterclass ended that record in Game 1, but the A’s turned things around with a pair of close-fought victories for their first postseason series triumph since 2006.
The eight teams remaining after the Wild Card Series advance to the Division Series, with the American League version beginning Monday and the National League starting Tuesday.
Find out all the latest results and follow every game of the postseason on MLB.com.