Two AL East foes are headed home after Wednesday’s action.
Yesterday was the biggest day of the season for several of the playoff teams. All the teams that lost Game 1 of their Wild Card Series matchups went into the day needing wins to keep their seasons alive. Over in the American League, those two teams who needed wins did not do so, and our final four for the AL is set.
AL Wild Card Series Game 2
(Rangers win series 2-0)
A very good outing from Nathan Eovaldi and homers from Adolis García and Evan Carter have the Rangers into the ALDS after a sweep of the Rays.
Eovaldi and Rays’ starter Zach Eflin exchanged zeroes early, but the Rangers had the better of the chances, and they eventually took some of them in the fourth. García led off the frame with a homer, and Josh Jung added to the lead with an RBI triple a couple batters later. However, the big blow came when 21-year-old Carter doubled Texas’ lead with a two-run shot.
The Rangers continued adding to their lead over the next couple innings, going up 7-0 in the sixth. As that was happening, Eovaldi was cruising, retiring 11 out of 13 batters from the third through sixth innings, with one of the only blemishes coming on a catcher’s interference.
Tampa Bay eventually got to him and knocked him out in the seventh. A Curtis Mead single scored a run, which was the first time the Rays had gotten on the board in a playoff game since the sixth inning of Game 1 of their Wild Card Series against the Guardians last year. Eovaldi was pulled after that, finishing with a final line of one run allowed on six hits, while striking out eight.
The Rays had a chance to make something of the game when Eovaldi exited, but reliever Josh Sborz stranded two runners on, and the rest of the bullpen took things from there.
AL Wild Card Series Game 2
(Twins win series 2-0)
A stellar all-around pitching performance from Sonny Gray and the Twins’ bullpen got Minnesota their first playoff series win since 2002, but the Blue Jays will be left ruing a couple missed chances.
The game was scoreless until the fourth inning after a fairly interesting pitching move from Toronto. While José Berríos opened the day with three scoreless innings, he issued a walk to start the fourth and was quickly removed in favor of Yusei Kikuchi, who loaded the bases with a single and another walk. Carlos Correa then lined a single just past Bo Bichette at short, scoring a run.
Kikuchi then got a double play, but that scored another run.
After that, the story of the game became the Jays’ missed chances. Toronto had a golden chance to answer right back in the fifth. A George Springer single, a Vladmir Guerrero Jr. walk, and a wild pitch by Gray gave Toronto two runners in scoring position with two outs in the inning. However, in the ensuing at-bat, Gray and Correa combined to pick Guerrero off at second.
Then in the sixth with two runners on, Matt Chapman narrowly missed tying the game as a shot down the line by him went just foul.
On the very next pitch, he grounded into an inning-ending double play. In total, the Jays stranded nine runners on base over the course of the game, and could very easily still be alive had one of two things gone differently.