The MLB playoffs are back with a bang.
The four division series matchups were some of the most intense we've seen in years. For the first in the history, every series went to a critical Game 5.
There was heartbreak and tears, celebrations and champagne. Baseball fanatics everywhere could agree -- this is what the game is all about.
|Photo by: Shawn Thew|
The Yankees/Orioles series started as one would have expected. The Yanks came out strong, taking a 7-2 win in Game 1.
The Orioles weren't about to go down without a fight though.
They took Game 2, but lost their very first extra innings game in Game 3 thanks to Raul Ibanez (pinch hitting for a poor-performing A-Rod) hitting a game-tying and game-winning home run. Game 4 again went into extra innings, and the O's hopes remained alive after a RBI double by J.J. Hardy in the 13th.
The Yankees would prove their veteran status, however, when Game 5 came around.
C.C. Sabathia proved himself a pitching ace, even after being sidelined with an injury earlier this year. He held Baltimore to only 1 run, ending their Cinderella season.
On the opposite coast, the Oakland A's were trying to make a comeback. They had lost the first two in Detroit and needed to win three-straight at home.
Brett Anderson pitched 6 scoreless innings to take Game 3 for the A's. However, Game 4 seemed to be the end for Oakland. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the 9th with closer Jose Valverde pitching, all hope seemed lost.
That was until Seth Smith came to the plate. He tied the game with a two-run double, and scored the winning run when Coco Crisp hit a walk-off single.
But all good things must come to an end, and end they did -- with ace Justin Verlander on the mound in Game 5.
Verlander pitched like the MVP he is. After a 4-hit shutout and 11 strikeouts, he ended the A's hopes with the Tigers winning 6-0.
Over in the National League, the 2010 and 2011 World Series winners were trying to make their way back to the top. The San Francisco Giants were up against the Cincinnati Reds, while last year's champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, were beginning their quest for back-to-back rings. But first, they had to get through the up-and-coming Washington Nationals.
Starting in San Francisco, the Reds saw themselves get a huge lead. They quickly took Games 1 and 2 after great games by Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Bronson Arroyo. After a 9-0 win in Game 2, the Giants morale was broken and the Reds were looking to sweep.
But in Game 3, a critical error by Scott Rolen in extra innings allowed Buster Posey to score the go-ahead run, and San Francisco was right back in the series.
The Giants had the momentum they needed and won Game 4 by a final of 8-3 thanks to phenomenal pitching by Tim Lincecum and 3 team home runs. Catcher Buster Posey was the star in Game 5, hitting a grand slam in the 5th. The Giants won 6-4, and were back on track to once again be World Series champs.
St. Louis was mired in controversy heading into the NLDS, after a questionable call helped them knock off the Atlanta Braves in the play-in game. The Cardinals were up against another young team in the Nationals, whose rookie phenom Bryce Harper had helped them to an outstanding season and the NL East title.
The Nationals took Game 1 after Tyler Moore hit a go-ahead single in the 8th. Carlos Beltran shined in Game 2 with 2 homers, tying the series 1-1. The Cardinals easily took Game 3 with an 8-0 win.
Game 4 was a win-or-go home situation -- and Jayson Werth was there to save the day.
Werth hit a game-winning walk-off homer in the 9th to tie the series at 2. The Nats momentum was rolling and in Game 5, they took an early 6-0 lead. It looked like the end for the Cardinals.
What happened next was either one of the greatest comebacks of all-time, one of the biggest choke jobs ever, or some sort of combination of the two.
St. Louis managed to get the score close, with Washington holding a 7-5 lead going into the 9th. Thanks to Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma, the Redbirds rallied to score 4 runs in the final inning. There was nothing the Nationals could do, as the Cardinals took the series 3-2.
Thanks to the amount of suspenseful games so far this postseason, fans can be assured that this playoff year will be one to remember.
The best part? There's still plenty of baseball to be played.