Ah, the smell of cider in the air! Leaves are falling, the threat of imminent war is upon us – must be October baseball! First, we’ll take a look at the two wild-card games that are coming up tonight and tomorrow:
Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees
Tonight’s game features the Minnesota Twins back in the postseason for the first time since 2010, and the New York Yankees back in the big show for the first time since 2015. Minnesota sort of squeaked by towards the end, though that’s the nature of the game now with the wild-card game. The Yankees had a postseason slot wrapped up fairly early, and most of their September was spent watching phenom Aaron Judge blast his way to the rookie home run record (52). They better be ready, however, as the Twins have sneakily been the fastest team since the All-Star break. They’ve been the best baserunning team in baseball according to Fangraphs’ and they’ve gotten 87 home runs since August 8th. Led by a group of non-household names (let’s be honest, outside of Minneapolis name five) they’ll be bargaining on star pitcher Ervin Santana handling the dangerous young bats in the Bronx. Luis Severino will take the mound for the Bombers, and he’ll likely try to capitalize on his career year (14-6). Last time the Yankees were in the playoffs, they lost the Wild-Card game to Houston, and oddly enough the Twins have faced the Yankees in the ALDS their last two appearances, in 2009 and 2010, being swept both times. My guess is that Minnesota has put together something special for the first time in a while, and although the Yankees have a solid, young team, and are playing with home-field advantage – Minnesota has history on their side. Of the ten games played since the second wild-card team was added in 2012, seven visitors have won their match. I’m going with Minnesota 4-1 for this one.
Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks
Whew! As a lifelong Rockies fan, I tried to stay as optimistic as possible, although we’ve only ever been to the postseason 3 of our 24 years previous. Heck, we’ve only been above .500 six of those years. Well, luckily they pulled through – even if it came down to the absolute wire. Next up, naturally is a rivalry game where new stud Jon Gray gets to face off against superstar Zach Greinke, who would love to prove that it wasn’t just being on the Dodgers that made him great*. What will hopefully be an exhilarating pitching duel may get overshadowed by the hitting prowess of the Rox sluggers – namely Charlie Blackmon, who’s having a career year batting .331, best in the National League – alongside 37 home runs and 104 RBIs. Will that translate alongside Nolan Arenado, batting .309 with 130 RBIs himself, although he was recently battling a hand injury. This will also likely be the last postseason berth for Carlos Gonzalez, at least as a Rockie. Will he be the hero in the game, or will we finally see the true first chance for Paul Goldschmidt to shine, after years waiting for an opportunity at autumn glory? He’s in the same level as the Rockies best, hitting in 120 runners as well as 36 homers. The redemption of closers was in play for both teams this year, as Fernando Rodney and Greg Holland both shined on new teams, so we’ll see a great final out. I give the edge to Arizona, who owned the season series 11-7, including a 5-4 record at home against Colorado. It’ll be tight, but I’m going with an Arizona 8-4 win.
*-Yes, I know he showed off in Kansas City beforehand, which got him to LA in the first place…
As for my predictions beyond this, you’ll have to wait for Thursday….tomorrow we’ll have a preview of the National Hockey League’s new season, including the first year for the newest member of the league, the Vegas Golden Knights, who now have the unenviable job of picking up their city’s spirits.