The 2022 Major League Baseball playoffs, to this point, have packed a serious punch. They've proven that you don't have to have many games where both teams' seasons are on the line for there to be drama. That's because we've only had two games where it was do or die for both teams.
How about that, huh? Padres-Mets Game 3 in the Wild Card Series and Guardians-Yankees Game 5 in the ALDS were it. Every other series has ended earlier than it needed to.
Still, as noted, there have been so many fun moments and we haven't even started the most important series yet. Let's take a very quick look back at the most memorable plays.
"Memorable" is, of course, incredibly subjective. I'm the captain of this ship, so I'm the ultimate decision-maker. Part of the job of a good captain is to make sure the riders are enjoying themselves, too, so that's the goal. Game-changing postseason hits are always great fun and it's especially the case when it happens for the home team. That's how we're going to lean, when in doubt. And, obviously, teams advancing further likely means they created more memories while the teams that didn't last long did not.
These aren't ranked.
González ends the series
It was Game 2 of the Wild Card Series between the Rays and Guardians. The Rays were facing elimination and had resorted to using starter Corey Kluber -- who won two Cy Youngs and an AL pennant during his time at Progressive Field -- in relief as the game dragged long into extra innings. Rookie outfielder Oscar González, a cult hero due to his great season and his SpongeBob Square Pants theme song walk-up music, sent the Guardians into the next round.
Raleigh goes national (international!)
By the time the playoffs rolled around, the Mariners and their fans were plenty aware of Cal Raleigh. He hit a walk-off home run to clinch their first playoff berth since 2001 and goes by the catchy nickname "Big Dumper." It didn't take long for casual baseball fans to catch up in the first round. The Mariners already had a 1-0 lead in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series after Eugenio Suárez doubled home Julio Rodríguez in the top of the first. That was a big deal, but one run isn't all that daunting for an offense like the Blue Jays'. Raleigh wanted some breathing room.
LET'S GOOOOOO pic.twitter.com/Os67PgMJ6S— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) October 7, 2022
Mariners storm back
The Rogers Centre was rocking. It was a 4-0 lead through four and 8-1 through five. All the Blue Jays had to do was not blow a 7-run lead and they'd have a shot to move on in Game 3. A Carlos Santana three-run homer -- after a run-scoring wild pitch -- made it 8-5. The Jays would get more insurance, but that didn't matter. A four-run rally in the eighth tied it and an inning later, an Adam Frazier double scored Raleigh, who had doubled with one out.
Expect the unbelievable. #EmbraceTheChaos pic.twitter.com/Zhzs8cvrS1— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) October 9, 2022
I will never, ever forget a large number of people from a fan base deciding that a pitcher's ears being red meant he was cheating. The online conspiracy rose to greater heights when Mets manager Buck Showalter had the umpires check Padres starter Joe Musgrove, including rubbing his ears on the mound. After the umpires cleared him of doing anything nefarious, Musgrove was still showered with chants of "cheater" as he continued to dominate the Mets' offense.
His ears were red and shiny again in his next two starts. He also was never seen rubbing anything from his ears onto his hands.
I've seen a lot of nonsense on Twitter over the years and I'm probably naïve for such sentiment, but I never thought I'd see anything as dumb as "his ears are red and shiny, so he's cheating."
Yordan's season-altering blast
The Mariners put up a crooked number against Astros ace Justin Verlander. They were on the verge of taking a 1-0 ALDS lead despite their number four starter going against Verlander in Game 1. There were two outs in the bottom of the ninth! Who knows how the rest of the playoffs go if there's a different result here.
Instead, Yordan Alvarez took care of business.
He's a bad man.
Much was made about the Yankees going with Nestor Cortes on short rest but the Guardians not doing the same with Shane Bieber for Game 5 of the ALDS after a day off due to rain. It didn't take long for the Yankees to take advantage.
That was the only series to this point where each team won more than one game. The tone was set in Game 5 in the first inning, though.
Rhys' three-run shot and bat spike
It might be surprising that there isn't a single Phillies memory on this list yet, but that's because they did so many memorable things in more important rounds that I had to skip things like their ninth-inning comeback in Game 1 of the WCS and Bryce Harper's home run in Game 2, not to mention their fun in Atlanta in Game 1 of the NLDS.
Little did we know how everything would unfold when this was about to happen. It was a 1-1 series that was 0-0 heading to the bottom of the third inning in Game 3 of the NLDS. One run scored, but the three-run Rhys Hoskins shot sent Citizens Bank Park into a frenzy and was the biggest moment early on when this felt like it could be a special run.
Bonus points for the bat spike. Oh, and Bryce Harper went deep later that inning. It's been a theme.
Realmuto makes history
How about an inside-the-park homer? By a catcher!?!
BEST FREAKING CATCHER IN BASEBALL#RingTheBell pic.twitter.com/XvhqYfu5bT— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) October 15, 2022
That was the 18th inside-the-park home run in playoff history and the first since Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers pulled it off in 2017. No Phillies player had ever previously done it. Nor had any catcher.
Kim, Soto and Cronenworth in the clutch
There are zero positive Dodgers memories on this list. They were one of the greatest regular-season teams in the history of the sport. Only three teams won more games in a season. That they were knocked out should go down in history. The pivotal moment of the series was the seventh inning of NLDS Game 4, with the Dodgers were up 3-0 in the game and just a few outs from sending the series back home.
A walk and two singles made it 3-1. Ha-Seong Kim doubled home a run to make it 3-2 with runners on second and third. Juan Soto then singled home the tying run and, after a strikeout, Jake Cronenworth drove home two to give the Padres the lead for good.
HE IS HIM. #CaptureTheMoment pic.twitter.com/VYUX81hImH— San Diego Padres (@Padres) October 16, 2022
The Padres slayed the beast.
Schwarber's monster shot
In Game 1 of the NLCS, Kyle Schwarber hit the furthest ball in Petco Park history. A lot of the time, I go with big hits at home because the player celebrations and crowd shots are so much more fun. Just see above on the Cronenworth hit for the closest possible evidence.
On this 488-foot blast, though, the crowd also helps. It's just so jarring to them to see a ball hit so far that there's a near-palpable buzz afterward, even if it's the wrong team.
Holy smokes, man.
Nola bests brother; Soto's double and Drury's single
Early in the one game the Padres won in the NLCS, they trailed 4-0. They had to battle back, and battle they did. Brandon Drury and Josh Bell hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the second to carve the Phillies' lead in half. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Austin Nola singled off his brother, Aaron, to cut the Phillies' lead to 4-3. Jurickson Profar then singled to make it first and third with one out for Juan Soto. The star lefty would double home the tying run.
Juan Soto is a San Diego Padre 😤#CaptureTheMoment pic.twitter.com/6Z25x9Dc5z— San Diego Padres (@Padres) October 19, 2022
After Cronenworth was hit by a pitch, Drury would single home two to give the Padres their first lead of the game.
Verlander locks in
After Justin Verlander was shaky in Game 1 of the ALDS, it was at least worth wondering how his 39-year-old body, notably the surgically-repaired right elbow, was holding up here after a full season of work. In the first two-plus innings of his Game 1 ALDS start against the Yankees, he was missing spots and ran into some trouble, including giving up a home run in the second. In the third, with the game tied 1-1, a walk and double with one out meant he was on the ropes.
He wouldn't allow another baserunner.
In fact, he went bonkers.
Verlander struck out the next two hitters to strand two in the third. He struck out all three hitters he faced in the fourth. He got a 1-2-3 in the fifth with two strikeouts. He got another 1-2-3 with two strikeouts in the sixth.
So much for being on the ropes.
With 11 strikeouts, it was the eighth time in Verlander's career he's gotten into double-digit strikeouts in a playoff game. That's the most ever. Clayton Kershaw is second with six and no one else has more than five.
Bottom of the Astros order powers up
After Verlander struck out the last two batters he faced, it was still a 1-1 tie in the middle of the sixth inning. The Astros had 6-7-8 in the batting order coming up. They almost went back-to-back, but there was a quick out between Yuli Gurriel's homer and Chas McCormick's.
They wouldn't look back. They never even trailed again until Game 4, at which point they already had a 3-0 series lead.
An Alex Bregman three-run shot to the Crawford Boxes? Yeah, we've seen this movie before. And, no, this wasn't because of the wind or a "short porch" or anything. It would have been a home run in almost every MLB park (25 of the 30, in fact, per Statcast).
When Boosie starts playing, you best not miss. pic.twitter.com/v6R2QPTeao— Houston Astros (@astros) October 21, 2022
If the Yankees had any chance of winning the series, they probably had to have Game 2, which means a 3-0 deficit in the third inning against this Astros pitching staff wasn't far off a death blow. Sure enough, it held up. These were all the runs the Astros needed.
Segura's two-out hit
Just a few weeks ago, Jean Segura was the active player with the most career regular-season games who hadn't yet appeared in the playoffs. Now he's headed to the World Series. He had quite the active Game 3 of the NLCS, too, including an error that led to the Padres' game-tying run in the top of the fourth.
In the bottom of the fourth, he came to the plate with the game still tied, 1-1. Runners were at second and third with two out. He was down in the count, 1-2. He took a below-the-zone breaking ball the other way for a two-RBI single.
JIMMY CIGS pic.twitter.com/3qbMNwoeXr— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) October 22, 2022
The Phillies would hold the lead and go up 2-1 in the series.
Hoskins and Bryce, again and again
The Padres scored four times in the top of the first inning on Saturday in NLCS Game 4, but the Phillies immediately showed how relentless they were going to be throughout this series in the bottom.
Schwarber led off with a single and Hoskins followed with a big two-run shot. Realmuto then drew a walk before Harper drove him home and suddenly it was 4-3 and Padres starter Mike Clevinger was being removed from the game.
It was a 6-4 Padres lead in the fourth inning when Hoskins hit another two-run homer. Realmuto walked again and then Harper, you guessed it, doubled him home to take a 7-6 Phillies lead.
Man, when the top of that Phillies order is humming, it is so dangerous. Roskins and Harper both have five homers and 11 RBI through 11 postseason games.
Schwarber monster shot, again
I don't believe for a heartbeat that this was only 429 feet, which ended up being the official measurement. Citizens Bank Park is 401 feet to the center field wall. You be the judge on if this only traveled 28 feet further.
GREAT JOB KYLE pic.twitter.com/NLHUf99miQ— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) October 23, 2022
Gimme the over.
Peña's game-tying blast
For Astros fans, you surely have a lot more lasting memories than we've hit here, but look at the bright side: It's because they haven't been challenged on a series level. Jeremy Peña's homer in the 18th inning, for example, would have made the list if that series was even remotely in doubt at the time. There could have been some moments in Game 3 of the ALCS, too, such as another Chas McCormick home run. The "snubs" here are simply a function of how the Astros made it look so easy in advancing to the World Series.
Peña does, however, get a big mention here. The Yankees had their first multi-run lead of the series. But then Nestor Cortes walked two in front of Peña and the rookie shortstop came through with a big blast that sucked the life out of Yankee Stadium.
JEREMY IS NASTY. pic.twitter.com/wOdgUIcVQn— Houston Astros (@astros) October 24, 2022
Once the Astros took a 3-0 lead in the series, it was over. Hell, it felt over for a good portion of Game 3. This was the precise moment that it seemed a sweep was in order, though.
Bregman's clutch RBI
The Yankees actually battled in Game 4, but the Astros rallied in the seventh inning, thanks in part of a bad Yankees error.
There was no error here on Bregman's hit that would prove to be the series winner.
CAN'T STOP, WON'T STOP. pic.twitter.com/36GYhtZX5o— Houston Astros (@astros) October 24, 2022
Rhys Hoskins. Again.
His third two-run home run of the series gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third of NLCS Game 5.
RHYS DEAN Y'ALL pic.twitter.com/RSV4W15sjW— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) October 23, 2022
The wild pitches!
The Phillies were holding a 2-1 lead heading to the seventh with the Padres facing elimination. Starter Zack Wheeler -- who has been dominant all playoffs -- gave up a Cronenworth single before being pulled for Seranthony Domínguez. A wild pitch got Cronenworth to second and Josh Bell singled him home to tie the game. Jose Azocar pinch ran for Bell.
Domínguez, who had been stellar in the playoffs, would strike the next two hitters out.
Azocar then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Then he scored on another wild pitch.
Domínguez threw three wild pitches the entire regular season and had gone 6 2/3 playoff innings without uncorking one before this game. He threw three in the same inning to give the Padres the lead.
As things ended up unfolding, it just ended up creating more Phillies memories, as it set the table for ...
Bryce Freaking Harper
The signature moment of the playoffs so far has been Bryce Harper with a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to put the Phillies back on top and three outs away from clinching their first NL pennant since 2009.
What do you say everything on this list gets pushed down about 25 more spots here in the upcoming week and a half or so?