Major League Baseball's postseason began Tuesday with the American League Wild Card Series. The Wild Card Series is a new best-of-three round, and the National League side of things will get started on Wednesday. Every game will be hosted at the higher-seeded team's home ballpark. Tuesday's contests featured one late-inning comeback and one blowout, among other things.
Below, you'll find updated scores of every game as well as some of the day's biggest storylines.
- FINAL: Astros 4, Twins 1 (Box score)
- FINAL: White Sox 4, A's 1 (Box score)
- FINAL: Rays 3, Blue Jays 1 (Box score)
- FINAL: Yankees 12, Cleveland 3 (Box score)
Yankees pummel Bieber
The battle of the aces in Cleveland never materialized., tagging him for seven runs in 4 2/3 innings. Bieber did not allow more than three runs in any of his 12 regular season starts. The seven earned runs in Game 1 are exactly half the 14 earned runs he allowed in those 12 regular season starts.
Gerrit Cole, on the other hand, was utterly dominant, striking out 13 in seven innings. He held Cleveland to two runs on six scattered hits. Cole joins Bob Gibson as the only pitchers with multiple 13-strikeout games in the postseason and the 13 strikeouts are second most in a postseason game by a Yankee (Roger Clemens struck out 15 in the 2000 ALCS).
There were questions about New York's offense abound coming into the postseason because they were not nearly as good on the road (4.1 runs per game) as they were at Yankee Stadium (6.4 runs per game) during the regular season. They responded with 12 runs in a game started by the AL's best pitcher. Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner went a combined 7 for 8 with two homers.
Valdez comes up big in Astros' Game 1 win
Coming into the opener of the Wild Card Series between the Astros and Twins at Target Field, 26-year-old Houston lefty Framber Valdez was in the discussion for starting Game 2. Veteran ace Zack Greinke started the opener, and Lance McCullers Jr. was lined up for a Game 3 start, if necessary. If those were the plans for Valdez, however, then Astros manager Dusty Baker audibled decisively and tabbed Valdez to come in out of the bullpen after Greinke had four somewhat shaky innings of one-run ball.
Valdez justified the decision and then some:
Just two of the 18 batters that Valdez faced managed hard-hit balls off of him, and he didn't give up a hit until the Twins scratched out back-to-back opposite field singles with one out in the ninth. At that point, Baker showed even more faith in Valdez. With the potential tying run at the plate, closer Ryan Pressly warmed up in the pen, and the right-handed Willians Astudillo slated to pinch hit, Baker stuck with Valdez. One curveball at the bottom of the zone later, Valdez had secured the crucial Game 1 with a game-ending double play.
In his first relief appearance since Aug. 10, Valdez leaned heavily on his sinker and curve, and he obviously got the biggest outs of the Astros' season to date. Speaking of which, please enjoy the Framber Hammer:
His usage means that Jose Urquidy will likely start Game 2 on Wednesday, and so far the aggressive use of Valdez is looking like a masterstroke on the part of Baker. As a result, the Twins endured their 17th straight postseason loss, and the Astros are one win away from a first-round upset.
Giolito dominates for White Sox
The White Sox won their first playoff game since 2008 with a 4-1 victory over the A's on Tuesday afternoon. The ChiSox got homers from Jose Abreu and Adam Engel, but their starter stole the headlines. Lucas Giolito, who threw a no-hitter in the regular season, was perfect for the first six innings against Oakland. He lost his perfect game (and no-hitter) in the seventh inning, but finished by allowing just one run on two hits while striking out eight in seven innings. You can read more about his performance here.
Snell dominates Jays; Rays get timely plays
The upstart Blue Jays offense was relegated to a mostly punchless display Tuesday at Tropicana Field in Game 1. Rays starter Blake Snell took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and struck out a postseason franchise record nine hitters in his 5 2/3 innings of work. He was removed after only 82 pitches, but that was just about as long as the Rays want him working. He hasn't gone a full six innings in any start all season.
With Snell out, the Jays threatened twice. Things started to resemble a rally in the top of the seventh when Vladimir Guerrero was hit by a pitch and Lourdes Gurriel singled, but Teoscar Hernandez popped out (infield fly rule, technically) before Joe Panik lined out to a perfectly positioned Willy Adames. After failing to score there, trailing only 1-0, the Jays then coughed up a two-run homer to Manuel Margot:
In the top of the eighth, a one-out Rowdy Tellez single was followed with a Cavan Biggio double. With Bo Bichette coming up, the Blue Jays had a real shot at a crooked number. Instead, he hit a sac fly and then Randal Grichuk lined out.
This game was all about the Rays doing winning things at precisely the right time and, well, that's pretty much how they always do it.