After a 162-game regular season, for some teams, a new animal approaches: the MLB post-season. Those lucky enough to make their way to the fall classic find themselves with new challenges and obstacles. Every game matters, and every team is coming out in full force so that they may etch their name in history.
For the Minnesota Twins maybe making it to the postseason was enough. After all, they were the first team to do so after posting a 100-plus loss season. When it comes to a winner-take-all wild card game and battling under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium, every player wants to shine. But who can live up to the pressure? Brian Dozier surely did, with his leadoff home run. Eddie Rosario followed him up, with a two-run shot of his own. The Yankees came back, however, with Didi Gregorius responding with a three-run shot of his own in the bottom of the first. The team eventually cruised through the game en route to an 8-4 victory.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies had to settle their differences in the wild card game. By the seventh inning, it looked as if the Rockies were primed for a comeback after being down six runs through the first three innings. Archie Bradley decided otherwise, becoming the first relief pitcher to hit a triple in the postseason, while also bringing in two more runs. By the end of it all, the D-Backs closed out the game with an 11-8 win.
In an interview prior to their series against the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer complained about the “dropped third strike” rule in the MLB.
By the middle of the fifth inning in game five of the best-of-five division series between the Nationals and the Cubs, Scherzer had already given up a two-run double, which gave the Cubs the lead. He then intentionally walked the next batter. At the next at-bat, the rule that had bothered him would return to haunt his outing on the mound: a dropped third strike, which resulted in the batter advancing to first, and the runner on second base coming in to score, further increasing the lead. The Cubs eventually won the game 9-8 and took the series.
The Diamondbacks looked prime to oust the reigning NL West champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers in the other divisional series. During the regular season, the two teams faced each other 19 times. Arizona won 11 of those games. In the postseason, however, the Dodgers made quick work of the Diamondbacks and swept Arizona 3-0.
In terms of game action, it was more of the same when it came to the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox facing each other in their division series. The Astros were comfortable at home, with the rallying cry of the Houston faithful behind them, coming together to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. Houston took the first two games, both by a score of 8-2, and while Boston had a convincing game-three win by knocking in 10 runs against Houston’s three. The Astros closed out the series 3-1 by taking game four.
The baseball team from Cleveland essentially had the same team from their 2016 post-season run, and surely after blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 World Series, the team wanted to come back this year and take it all. At the outset, they looked better than the Yankees in all aspects of their game. Game two took 13 innings, with Cleveland winning 9-8 and taking a commanding 2-0 series lead. The Yankees took the next two at home, and as if in the Yankee Way, broke hearts and took game five on the road against Cleveland to win the series 3-2.
The Yankees were on an absolute hot streak at this point, showing the baseball world they were more than just a wild card team. The Yanks and Astros were still undefeated at home at this point, and they showed that they were ready to defend home turf. The Astros took the first two games at home. The Yankees then had the next three games in their confines, and outscored Houston 19-5 while taking all three games to command a 3-2 series lead. The Astros, took the next two games at home and advanced to their first World Series since 2005.
The reigning champions, the Chicago Cubs, looked to defend their crown and potentially go back-to-back as World Series champs. With Los Angeles taking the first two games at home and stealing game three at Wrigley Field, outscoring the Cubs 15-4 in that time frame, the Cubs had their backs against the wall. They showed a bit of life in game four, with Javier Báez snapping his 0-for-20 skid at the plate with two solo home runs, contributing to a 3-2 victory. However, the Dodgers, closed out the series with a monstrous 11-1 win, sealing a date with the Astros in the 2017 World Series.
This was the first World Series since 1970 where both teams posted 100-plus win seasons. The Dodgers had the potential to win their first championship since 1988, while the Astros could win their franchise’s first World Series since the team came into the league in 1962. Records were broken in a wild game two. The Astros took the game 7-6, and became the first World Series team to homer in the ninth, 10th, and 11th inning. Both teams also set a record for most home runs combined in a World Series with eight, and this was the first time in MLB history that five home runs were hit in extra innings. Surely, that was it.
Game five saw two aces go head-to-head on the mound, Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel. It was bound to be a pitching duel, and most likely to be a close game. Except it wasn’t.
The two aces for both teams exited early, and the game once again went to extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, with the score knotted at 12 each, Houston had a man on second and Alex Bregman at the plate. Bregman hit a walk-off single to help the Astros secure a 13-12 victory and a 3-2 series lead in what was a game for the ages. No one had a definite lead, with the game setting a record of six game-tying home runs.
An anti-climactic game seven had the Astros gain an early five-run lead as they cruised to their first ever World Series title.
An extreme disappointment for the Dodgers, and especially for Kershaw, who had always been seen as a non-factor in the postseason. In an interview with USA today, he was quoted as saying, “Maybe one of these days I won’t fail.”
Carlos Beltrán was seen shedding tears of joy, as the man with a 20-year career in the majors had finally won it all. Evan Gattis also showed an emotional side, as the man who once left baseball to battle his inner demons and perform a series of blue-collar jobs was living a dream that once seemed impossible. Carlos Correa, riding high on the emotions of the win, rode those feelings even higher as he proposed to his girlfriend on the field. She said yes, of course.