Eight teams entered this weekend's burst of high-stakes baseball in MLB's new playoff format, but only two deadlocked at a game apiece and forced a winner-take-all Game 3 — the New York Mets and San Diego Padres.
Much of the drama in the first two games surrounded the Mets high-powered aces. Max Scherzer's implosion in Game 1 put Buck Showalter's 101-win club on the brink, then Jacob deGrom and an enlivened offense kept them alive in Game 2. But on Sunday night, Chris Bassitt — a big acquisition in his own right — couldn't compare to Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove, who hurled seven nearly flawless innings in a 6-0 San Diego victory.
The dominance didn't come without controversy. Mets manager Buck Showalter asked umpires to check Musgrove for foreign substances prior to the sixth inning after Musgrove's ears appeared to be glistening. The umpires didn't find anything objectionable, and Musgrove continued cruising.
A Mets team that never felt out of the game earlier this year — they pulled a five-run rally out of their hats in the ninth inning against the Cardinals in April — never felt in this one. The thunder they briefly found Saturday night was nowhere to be found, and a summer spent atop the NL East has abruptly turned into a disappointing early October exit.
What happened in the rest of the wild-card series?
The other three series concluded with two-game sweeps.
The Guardians defeated the Rays in two historic, pitching-centric games.
The Phillies returned to the postseason with a vengeance, ousting Albert Pujols and the Cardinals.
The Mariners looked a whole lot like a team of destiny, coming back from seven runs down to oust the Blue Jays.
Need to catch up on the major storylines as the postseason gets rolling? We've got you covered.