It took one extra day and two extra games, but the National League postseason field is now set.
Here, finally, is the NL postseason picture:
- Wild Card Game: Rockies at Cubs (on Tuesday)
- NLDS: Wild Card Game winner at Brewers (starts Thursday)
- NLDS: Braves at Dodgers (starts Thursday)
The Dodgers and Rockies finished the 162-game regular season with identical 91-71 records, which necessitated the Game 163 tiebreaker. Never before had MLB needed two tiebreaker games in one season.
Although these were not traditional do-or-die tiebreakers because of the Wild Card Game, winning the division is such a big advantage, so these games were very important. Here are six things to know about the Dodgers vs. Rockies Game 163 tiebreaker.
Dodgers win sixth straight division title
The Dodgers are the third team to win six consecutive division titles since MLB switched to a four-division format in 1969. Only the Braves and Yankees have longer division title streaks.
- Braves: 14 straight years (1991-2005)
- Yankees: 9 straight years (1998-2006)
- Dodgers: 6 straight years (2013-18)
Even if they didn't win Monday's tiebreaker, Los Angeles would've been in the postseason as a wild card team. Prior to this run, the Dodgers had never gone to the postseason in more than two consecutive seasons. That dates back to their Brooklyn days. Now they've won six straight division titles. Remarkable.
Rockies still looking for their first NL West title
After 25 years of existence, the Rockies are still looking for their first division title. Colorado joined the league as an expansion team in 1993 and they have yet to claim an NL West championship. This is the fourth time they finished in second place.
- 1995: 77-67 (one game behind Dodgers)
- 2007: 90-73 (half-game behind Diamondbacks)
- 2009: 92-70 (three games behind Dodgers)
- 2018: 91-72 (one game behind Dodgers)
Even last season, when the Rockies played in the Wild Card Game, they finished third in the NL West (87-75) behind the Dodgers (104-58) and D-Backs (93-69). The Rockies are still looking for their first division title, but they have made the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time in franchise history, and that's not nothing.
Buehler took a no-hitter into the sixth
Rookie right-hander Walker Buehler, , took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Monday evening. Charlie Blackmon broke the no-hit bid up with a shift-beating single with one out in that sixth inning. The Dodgers were up 4-0 before the Rockies even recorded a hit.
Buehler allowed 15 balls in play Monday and his average exit velocity allowed was 81.6 mph. Only three of those 15 balls in play were hit 90 mph or better. Statcast hit probability says Buehler allowed one ball in play that had better than a 40 percent chance to fall in for a hit. That is domination. It was soft contact all game long.
Oh, and by the way, Buehler also drew a walk and slapped a run-scoring single at the plate. It was the first RBI of his career. Buehler was a two-way threat Monday night. What a performance.
A cross-up cost the Rockies
German Marquez struck out the first three batters he faced in the fourth inning and still allowed two runs. He and catcher Tony Wolters got crossed up on Max Muncy's strikeout. Wolters was expecting something soft, Marquez threw a heater, Muncy swung through it for strike three, and the pitch went to the backstop. That allowed Muncy to reach base.
Marquez bounced back to strike out Manny Machado and Yasmani Grandal, but a two-seam fastball ran back across the plate to Cody Bellinger, and Bellinger swatted it over the right field wall for a two-run home run and a 2-0 lead.
Who knows how the inning plays out if Marquez and Wolters don't get crossed up, and Muncy doesn't reach base on the strikeout. Maybe the Dodgers don't score that inning. Or maybe the Dodgers have a nine-run inning instead of a two-run inning! It would've changed everything. Either way, Marquez struck out four batters in the inning and allowed a two-run home run. It was the most 2018 inning ever.
Marquez gave up a two-run home run to Muncy in the fifth inning, but, prior to that, he was really good. Nine strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings and a lot of really ugly swings. Since this goes in the books as a regular season game, the nine strikeouts Monday give Marquez 230 strikeouts on the season, fourth most in the NL. Only Max Scherzer (300), Jacob deGrom (269), and Patrick Corbin (246) had more.
The Dodgers overcame a big deficit to win the division
On May 8, the Dodgers were nine games back of first place in the NL West. They were 4 1/2 games back as recently as Aug. 22. It's been a few years since a team erased a nine-game deficit to win the division.
Those 2015 Rangers were as far back as 9 1/2 games in the standings, including nine games back as late as July 22.
The Rockies are going to Chicago next
Even with Monday's loss, the Rockies do get to play another game. They'll face the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the NL Wild Card Game on Tuesday night. Here's the Rockies' travel schedule:
- Sunday: Beat the Nationals in Colorado
- Monday: Lose to the Dodgers in Los Angeles
- Tuesday: Play the Cubs in the Wild Card Game in Chicago
Mountain Time to Pacific Time to Central Time in three days. That can't be fun. I suppose the good news is the deficit was large enough Monday that Rockies manager Bud Black was able to avoid his top relievers, namely Adam Ottavino and Wade Davis. Ottavino and Davis will be rested and ready to go in the Wild Card Game on Tuesday.
Rockies vs. Dodgers: Game 163 commentary
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