With Major League Baseball’s regular season finished, eight teams, four from each league, made the playoffs. The American League Division Series matchups were the New York Yankees versus the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers versus the wild card Tampa Bay Rays. The National League Division Series matchups were the Milwaukee Brewers versus the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Philadelphia Phillies versus the wild card St. Louis Cardinals.
In the AL, Tigers ace Justin Verlander and Yankees ace CC Sabathia were scheduled to pitch in Game 1, but rain ruined the evening and their outings were cut short after just one and a half innings. The Yankees would go on to win the first game behind stellar pitching by Ivan Nova. However, the favored Yanks could not pull away with a series victory, as their season ended when Jose Valverde struck out Alex Rodriguez in Game 5 to end the Yankees’ world series hopes. In the other AL series, Kelly Shoppach hit two home runs for the Rays in their Game 1 victory, but the Rangers came back and won three straight games to clinch a berth in the AL Championship Series against the Tigers.
In the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies and their All-Star pitching staff lost a nail-biting series to the Cardinals in five games. Chris Carpenter outdueled the Phillies’ best pitcher, Roy Halladay, to win the decisive fifth game. In the other NL series, the Brewers beat the Diamondbacks, who were led by sluggers Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder and their ace, Yovani Gallardo. This set up a Cardinals-Brewers NL Championship Series.
In the ALCS, the Rangers won their series against the Tigers in six games. They were led by the bat of ALCS MVP Nelson Cruz, who hit 6 homers and had 13 RBIs in the ALDS and ALCS. Tigers ace Justin Verlander only pitched in Game 5 and was able to lead his team to one of their two victories in the series. The Tigers’ top hitter in the series was slugger Miguel Cabrera. The Rangers bullpen was fantastic, as Scott Feldman, Neftali Feliz, Darren Oliver, Mike Gonzalez and Yoshinori Tateyama combined for 14 scoreless innings. The Rangers won the decisive Game 6, 15-5 to clinch their birth in the World Series.
The NL Central rivals Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals faced each other in the NLCS. The Cardinals ended up winning the series 4-2 to advance to the World Series. David Freese had a monster series for the Cardinals with 3 homers and 9 RBIs. The Cardinals’ starters did not fare as well, so the bullpen had to step in. The bullpen was led by Lance Lynn, who threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings in the series. The Brewers’ Jerry Hairston Jr. had a high on-base percentage and Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder combined for 9 RBIs, but the Brewers starting pitching proved to be their downfall. Even solid bullpen performances from John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez, Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins (one run in 13 innings) could not save the Brewers.
Overall, the World Series will be extremely exciting as the Rangers try to avenge their World Series loss from last year and the Cardinals attempt to win their first championship since 2006.
The World Series starts this afternoon at 4:00 PM on FOX.