By RICKY LINDSAY, Staff Writer
Major League Baseball’s postseason opened up Friday night as the newly implemented Wild Card games were played for the first time.
The St. Louis Cardinals took on the Atlanta Braves in the National League Wild Card game Friday. The Cardinals sent Kyle Lohse to the mound to square off against the Braves’ starter Kris Medlen.
Lohse threw five and two-thirds innings, struck out six batters, and allowed two runs. Medlen was roughed up by Cardinals’ hitters, throwing six and one-thirds innings while allowing five runs, two of those earned.
Cardinals’ outfielder Matt Holliday went 2-3 with an RBI on a solo home run. First baseman Allen Craig ignited the Cardinals’ offense early, going 2-4 with an RBI double.
A controversial infield fly call by the umpires silenced the Braves’ rally in the eighth inning. The Cardinals never looked back, beating the Braves 6-3 to advance to the NLDS in Chipper Jones’ final game.
The American League Wild Card game featured a matchup between the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers. Joe Saunders started for the Orioles, while Yu Darvish started for the Rangers.
Saunders shut down the Rangers’ offense, throwing five and two thirds innings while only allowing one earned run. Darvish was effective before being replaced, throwing six and two-thirds innings while striking out seven and allowing three runs, with two of those being earned.
The Orioles shocked the baseball world, beating the two-time defending American League Champion Rangers 5-1 to advance to the ALDS for the first time since 1997.
The Cincinnati Reds traveled to San Francisco to play the Giants Saturday night in Game One of the NLDS. Giants’ pitcher Matt Cain was opposed by Johnny Cueto of the Reds.
Cain struggled against the Reds, only lasting five innings while allowing three runs. Cueto exited the game with back spasms after pitching one-third of an inning. However, the loss of their ace didn’t harm the Reds, as their bullpen were able to shut the Giants’ offense down.
Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce provided early runs for the Reds, each hitting a home run. NL MVP candidate Buster Posey hit a solo shot for the Giants in the sixth inning, but it was too late, as the Reds won 5-2.
The St. Louis Cardinals returned home to start the NLDS Sunday afternoon against the Washington Nationals. The Cardinals sent ace Adam Wainwright to oppose Nationals’ Cy Young candidate Gio Gonzalez.
Gonzalez struggled with location in his first career postseason start, going five innings and allowing two runs and seven walks. Wainwright lasted five and two-thirds innings, allowing one run while racking up ten strikeouts.
Tyler Moore provided late inning heroics off the bench, driving in two runs in the eighth to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead. The lead would hold, and Washington walked away with their first postseason victory as the Nationals.
The New York Yankees took on the Baltimore Orioles after a long, two hour rain delay. The Yankees sent CC Sabathia to the mound to oppose O’s starter Jason Hammel in Baltimore.
Sabathia was dealing all night, throwing eight and two-thirds innings and racking up seven strikeouts while allowing two runs. Hammel shut the Yankees’ offense down, going five and two-thirds innings while allowing two runs.
The game was tied at two until the top of the ninth inning, when the Yankees bats caught fire against O’s closer Jim Johnson. Johnson struggled in his one-third of an inning pitched, allowing four runs on five hits. Yankee’s catcher Russell Martin rattled Johnson with a solo shot off the closer to lead off the ninth.
Though the 7-2 win was ugly, the Yankees didn’t mind, as they lead the series against the Orioles. The final game played Sunday night was Game Two of the NLDS between the Reds and the Giants. Bronson Arroyo pitched excellent for the Reds, going seven innings while allowing only one hit.
Cincinnati received production from just about everywhere in their lineup Sunday night. The offense combined for 13 hits and nine runs to give the Reds a 9-0 shutout win and a commanding 2-0 series lead.
The MLB postseason continues this week. Last night featured two Game Two match ups between Washington and St. Louis, and New York and Baltimore. Tonight features two Game Three match ups between San Francisco and Cincinnati, and Detroit and Oakland. Both the Reds and Tigers can sweep their series with a win tonight.