Once again, MLB is offering up a four-game playoff buffet with the AL and NL Division Series all getting underway on the same day.
The four teams with the best overall records — the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees — will be playing their first games since the regular season ended six days ago. Will the extra rest work to their advantage in allowing their injuries to heal and pitching rotations to be optimized? Or will the extra time off leave them a tad rusty in their openers?
The Philadelphia Phillies stunned the Braves in Game 1 with a 7-6 win, setting up a scary situation for Atlanta, who will face their two aces in the next two games – Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.
In Houston, Yordan Alvarez smashed a walk-off three-run homer off Robbie Ray to steal Game 1 8-7 from the Seattle Mariners.
Stick with us as the other two games unfold for all the updates and insight you need to stay on top of today’s action.
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Kwan gets Cleveland on the board
The Guardians scored first courtesy of a solo home run by left fielder Steven Kwan in the third inning off Yankees ace Gerrit Cole.
The rookie had six homers all season in 147 games.
The Guardians left the third inning with the bases loaded.
All four of the Guardians’ runs this postseason have come via home runs.
The Yankees followed suit in the bottom half of the inning. Center fielder Harrison Bader slugged a solo home run off Cal Quantrill to tie the score 1-1.
Astros walk-off to win Game 1
Astros left fielder Yordan Alvarez smashed a walk-off three-run homer to stun the Mariners 8-7 in Game 1.
With two outs and runners on first and second base, the Mariners summoned ace Robbie Ray to replace closer Paul Sewald in the bottom of the ninth inning. Ray coughed up an 0-1 bomb to Alvarez for the win.
Mariners manager Scott Servais then made the bold move to bring in Ray, who started Saturday at Toronto in the AL wild-card series, for a lefty vs. lefty matchup with Alvarez.
It was the 10th walk-off in postseason history for the Astros.
Eugenio Suarez tacks on in the seventh
Mariners third baseman Eugenio Suárez hit a solo home run into the Crawford Boxes in left field in the seventh inning off Cristian Javier, extending Seattle’s lead to 7-3.
Suarez hit 31 home runs in the regular season
Justin Verlander finished after four innings
Houston’s ace lasted just four innings in Game 1 of the ALDS on Tuesday, giving up six earned runs on 10 hits against the Seattle Mariners. In the fourth, JP Crawford hit a solo home run and Julio Rodriguez came around after tripling to score his third run of the game.
Bryan Abreu came out of the bullpen to replace Verlander in the top of the fifth with Seattle leading 6-3.
Phillies’ Game 1 win changes NLDS calculus vs. Braves
Fortunes shift quickly in October and so do moods, and at suburban Atlanta’s Truist Park, a cavalcade of timely Phillies hits turned giddy anticipation into heightened concern and now, perhaps, total panic after a 101-win season.
The Phillies broke serve in the most impactful way possible Tuesday, flying into Cobb County on adrenaline alone and toppling Atlanta ace Max Fried in a 7-6 victory, one in which their No. 3 starter, Ranger Suarez, wobbled into the fourth inning but, like his bullpen mates, made a series of huge pitches with runners on base against the nearly peerless Braves lineup.
Now, it gets a little too real: Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola start the next two games, concerning in any scenario but horrifying when you consider they did not yield a single run to the powerful Cardinals and can eliminate you by Friday.
– Gabe Lacques
Mariners get to Justin Verlander, lead Astros 4-0
Seattle scored in the top of the first against Justin Verlander on Cal Raleigh’s RBI single and then added three more in the second inning with Julio Rodriguez’s two-run double and a Ty France RBI single. They lead 4-0 through two innings.
The Phillies jumped out to a big early lead in Atlanta
The Philadelphia Phillies scored early and often against Atlanta Braves starter Max Fried to take an early 6-1 lead in their NLDS opener.
Nick Castellanos got the Phils on the board first with a two-out RBI single against Fried in the top of the first inning and Alec Bohm added another clutch hit to score a second run.
After Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud homered in the second to make it 2-1, Fried’s throwing error opened the door to a pair of unearned Phillies runs in the third. And Castellanos came through again in the fourth with a two-out, two-run single.
Fried (14-7, 2.48 ERA in the regular season) exited with one out in the fourth after yielding eight hits and a walk. He was charged with all six runs, four of them earned.
After the Phils got another run on an Edmundo Sosa sacrifice fly in the fifth, d’Arnaud came through again for the Braves with a big hit — a two-run double to cut the deficit to 7-3.
Through the first six innings, Philadelphia is 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Atlanta is 1-for-7.
Eight most important players in the Division Series
It’s often not the biggest names that prove most indispensable once Major League Baseball’s playoffs arrive. After all, anyone can be pitched to, or ignored altogether.
It’s often the performance of the less heralded that matters most, and as the fourth Division Series gets underway Tuesday, USA TODAY Sports examines the eight players most important to their team’s chances.
Leading the way is Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Evan Phillips, who will take on additional responsibility with the team deciding not to include veteran closer Craig Kimbrel on its NLDS roster.
— Gabe Lacques
Veteran reliever off Astros ALDS roster after ‘off-the-field’ injury
HOUSTON – The Houston Astros left veteran relievers Will Smith and Phil Maton off their roster for the AL Division Series against the Seattle Mariners.
Maton suffered an “off-the-field” injury, general manager James Click said Tuesday, adding that Maton would be available later in the day to provide details. Click wouldn’t say whether the injury was the reason he was not on the roster.
According to Chandler Rome of The Athletic, Maton broke a finger when he punched his locker after the team’s final regular-season game.
Instead of Maton and Smith, the Astros put rookie right-hander Hunter Brown on a roster with 12 pitchers and carried an extra position player in rookie infielder David Hensley.
The Padres get another shot at the Dodgers
For the first time since the first week of the season, the Padres and Dodgers are finally back even, starting at 0-0 in the best-of-five NLDS.
“I think it feels a little bit better now that we’re not looking at the standings,” Padres manager Doug Melvin said, “and 18 games behind, or 20 games behind, whatever it was.”
Well, it was 22 games behind, but who’s counting?
“They handled us pretty well during the year,” said Padres center fielder Trent Grisham, who hit .184 during the regular season, and .500 in the wild card series, “but now everything is on the line. There’s a winner who goes on. And the loser goes home. Everything is on the line.”
– Bob Nightengale
Yankees won’t have LeMahieu, Effross vs. Guardians
NEW YORK – Former batting champion DJ LeMahieu was left off the New York Yankees’ American League Division Series roster against Cleveland on Tuesday after being unable to overcome a toe injury that slowed him late in the season.
Reliever Scott Effross, rookie infielder Oswald Peraza and outfielder Andrew Benintendi were also left off the 26-man roster, while Matt Carpenter, rookie Oswaldo Cabrera and speedy outfielder Tim Locastro were included.
Cleveland added right-handers Aaron Civale and Cody Morris and dropped left-hander Kirk McCarty and right-hander Nick Sandlin, who strained his pitching shoulder Saturday.
— The Associated Press
Playoff rankings: NL powers top list of World Series contenders
While talent always matters most, there’s no underestimating positioning and path when it comes to navigating a World Series trip. And after Major League Baseball expanded its postseason field to 12 teams, opponent circumstances and the calendar probably matter more than ever.
With three of the four new wild-card series ending in two-game sweeps, the damage was certainly minimized by lower-seeded teams in this bracket.
Here’s a look at the remaining World Series contenders, ranked by the likelihood they can reach – and win – the 2022 championship.
— Gabe Lacques
Strider on, Robertson off NLDS rosters
ATLANTA – Philadelphia Phillies reliever David Robertson will miss the NL Division Series after injuring his right calf jumping to celebrate Bryce Harper’s home run in their clinching wild-card victory at St. Louis.
The Phillies left Robertson off the roster for their NLDS opener at Atlanta on Tuesday. The defending champion Braves placed rookie right-hander Spencer Strider on their roster after he was sidelined since Sept. 18 with a sore left oblique.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said Strider will throw on the side before Tuesday’s matchup against Philadelphia but would not be available to pitch in Game 1.
Strider, signed Monday to a $75 million, six-year contract, could be used as a starter or a reliever, according to Snitker.
The Braves won’t have October hero Tyler Matzek for the NLDS as the left-handed reliever is dealing with a sore elbow and is being evaluated.
— The Associated Press
Yankees’ Gerrit Cole hopes to find postseason redemption
In last season’s AL wild-card game, Yankees starter Gerrit Cole got knocked out in the third inning against the Red Sox
“It took a long time to get over that,” Cole told USA TODAY Sports. “I hate losing. I just can’t stand it. I get frustrated. I get angry. I just kept thinking about it over and over.
“It was a terrible feeling. I was just sick to my stomach.”
Cole, who the Yankees signed to a $324 million contract, gets the start in Game 1 against the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday.
– Bob Nightengale
Playoff predictions: Favorites have a significant edge
Coming off Major League Baseball’s first-ever wild card weekend, the 2022 postseason enters the traditional (since 1995!) best-of-five division series starting Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Dodgers finished the regular season with 111 wins, the most of any team in baseball since 2001, but winning a second World Series title in three years won’t be a cakewalk.
Here’s how USA TODAY Sports’ baseball reporters and editors see the postseason playing out:
- Four pick the Dodgers to win it all.
- One has the Astros over the Braves
- One has the Braves over the Astros
- And one has the Padres pulling off the huge upset