MLB playoffs: Mets battle Padres, force Game 3 as Phillies knock Cardinals out of wildcard series

MLB’s 2022 season moves forward into a brave new world, a 12-team postseason bracket that will decide a champion over the next month. The breakout of high-stakes baseball pits eight teams — Guardians-Rays, Cardinals-Phillies, Blue Jays-Mariners, Mets-Padres — for the right to advance. And it goes very quickly. The new best-of-three wildcard series began on Friday with the Padres humiliating Max Scherzer and the The Phillies turn the tables in St. Louis.

The top seeds they would face in the next round are familiar – the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees. But certainly some of these challengers have plans to overturn baseball’s existing world order.

[Here’s the full TV schedule for the MLB postseason]

The Phillies shut down the Cardinals, ending the legendary careers of Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina

Goodbye, Saint Louis. A day after a ninth-inning slump, the Cardinals saw their season — along with the careers of Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina — end at the hands of the Phillies and ace Aaron Nola. The 29-year-old Philadelphia stalwart was brilliant in his playoff debut, going 6 2/3 scoreless innings as Philadelphia ousted the Cardinals with a 2-0 win.

Pujols ended his Hall of Fame-bound career with a single.

The loss also ends the MVP-level campaigns of Cardinals stalwarts Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. The pair went 1 for 15 in the two-game series and 0 for 8 in Game 2. Pujols, for his part, singled in what turned out to be his last at bat, and was substituted by a pinch. runner.

It’s on and up for the Phillies, who got a home run from Bryce Harper – very encouraging given his power outage since returning from injury – and a sacrificial fly from Kyle Schwarber to back up Nola and company. They will face the second seeded Atlanta Braves.

Mets bats wake up, hit Padres to force Game 3

Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso homered and batting champion Jeff McNeil hit a key two-run single as the Mets won Game 2 from the Padres, 7-2. Forced into an elimination game, the 101-win Mets bowed to force a win-win Game 3 on Sunday in New York.

Jacob deGrom started for the Mets, going six innings and allowing two runs with eight strikeouts. Padres starter Blake Snell didn’t fare as well — walking six batters and lasting just 3 1/3 innings. But for all the struggles, Snell also allowed just two runs. It took the Mets until the seventh inning to part ways. In a long inning against reliever Adrian Morejon – struggling with PitchCom issues – the Mets had four runs, starting with McNeil’s big hit.

Manager Buck Showalter brought Edwin Diaz closer to the world to pitch the seventh inning and got five outs from him before turning to Adam Ottavino and eventually Seth Lugo.

The Mets’ win sets up a Sunday showdown for the right to play the Dodgers in the NLDS. The Mets are expected to send Chris Bassitt to the mound to face Joe Musgrove of the Padres.

Sailors come back from 7-point deficit to eliminate Blue Jays

In their first playoff series since 2001, the Mariners progress to the ALDS in spectacular fashion. After winning Game 1 on Friday, Seattle fell 8-1 in the fifth inning against the Blue Jays in Game 2 on Saturday. And then… like fans at a watch party in Seattle invented the “rally shoe”, the Mariners began to rally.

They cut the deficit to three on wild pitch and a Carlos Santana homer in the sixth. Then the Blue Jays turned around to make it 9-5 heading into the eighth inning. Blue Jays reliever Anthony Bass started the inning, but gave up hits without registering an out. Toronto closest Jordan Romano came in and had two strikeouts before Mariners shortstop JP Crawford hit a bloop into center field with the bases loaded.

Chasing, Blue Jays center fielder George Springer and shortstop Bo Bichette met in a frightening collision that left Springer injured on the turf. All three runners scored to tie the game. In the ninth inning, Adam Frazier and frequent Seattle hero Cal Raleigh chained doubles to give the Mariners one.

After using much of their bullpen, the Mariners turned to rookie starter George Kirby to close out the 10-9 win and clinch the franchise’s first playoff victory since ALDS 2001. They advance for face the Astros, their rivals and executioners from AL West.

Guardians eliminate Rays with a scoreless home run to break the scoreless tie at 15th

It took 15 innings for anyone to score, but Cleveland Guardians rookie Oscar Gonzalez scored in a big way. A resounding home run late in the 15th gave the Guardians a 1-0 victory as they advanced to the ALDS against the New York Yankees, and the Tampa Bay Rays were sent home Saturday.

Gonzalez, a 24-year-old outfielder who uses the theme song to “SpongeBob Squarepants” as background music, was the only player in the game with more than one hit. Pitchers dominated Game 2, starting with Triston McKenzie of the Guardians and Tyler Glasnow of the Rays. Reliever Sam Hentges, Cleveland’s eighth pitcher of the day, went three innings and struck out six for the win.

The Rays become the first team eliminated in the new wildcard series, scoring a total of one run in 24 innings.

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