Well, that was fast!
On the second day of Wild Card week, all four series were decided: The Texas Rangers kicked off the day by eliminating the Tampa Bay Rays with a dominant 7-1 win, and the Minnesota Twins won their first playoff series since 2002 by sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays.The Arizona Diamondbacks knocked off the NL Central-winning Milwaukee Brewers, and the Philadelphia Phillies dominated the Miami Marlins in front of a raucous home crowd.
We've got you covered with our takeaways on each series -- and what's next for the four teams eliminated Wednesday.
Twins 2, Blue Jays 0: Sometimes the analysis is simple: The Twins pitched well, the Blue Jays didn't hit well -- and the Twins swept two low-scoring games for their first postseason series win since 2002. Give credit to a Minnesota pitching staff that has ability to make a deep postseason run. Pablo Lopez and Sonny Gray were both excellent in their starts and match up favorably with any team's top two starters. The bullpen has several guys who can pump it up into the upper 90s. That relief corps has the ability to be dominant this October (although manager Rocco Baldelli's insistence on using Louie Varland in high-leverage situations may bite him at some point). The question is whether the Twins can score enough runs -- but don't discount their chances of knocking off the Astros in the ALDS. As for the Jays, they remain without a postseason win in the Vladimir Guerrero Jr./Bo Bichette era, and you have to wonder whether the team needs a major offensive overhaul in the offseason. -- David Schoenfield
Rangers 7, Rays 1: Give the Rangers credit: They lost that last series of the season in Seattle, costing them the AL West title, and then had to fly cross-country to play a tough Rays team that had the best home record in the AL. We saw the best version of the Rangers, especially with Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi combining to allow just one run in 17⅔ innings. We saw a lineup that has power up and down the lineup -- including rookie Evan Carter, who is having an October breakout.
What we didn't learn: Can the bullpen close out a tight game? The starters went deep and the games weren't close. And manager Bruce Bochy's decision to bat Robbie Grossman third against right-handed starters, with some other good hitters to choose from, remains more than a little questionable given Grossman has hit .182 with a .569 OPS against righties the past two seasons. We'll see if that continues in Baltimore. -- Schoenfield
Arizona 5, Brewers 2: What we witnessed during a very brief NL wild card round in Milwaukee might well have been a young, talented team embarking on a new chapter in its history. Arizona's sweep was impressive -- not because its flashy athleticism was on full blast but because the team showed the big stage was not too big. It's a cliched observation to be sure, but it fits.
The Diamondbacks displayed professional, disciplined at-bats in both games. The quality of their at-bats improved as the games progressed, and they got to Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta the second time through the order. They did it with power, too, always a good formula for postseason winning.
The Arizona bullpen was impressive in the two games, with manager Torey Lovullo showing no compunction about trotting out a parade of guys you've probably never heard of. But Kevin Ginkel, Joe Mantiply, Miguel Castro and others have all gotten rolling late in the season -- and when a bullpen gathers steam in the playoffs, anything can happen.
To be sure, it's a gut-punch loss for Milwaukee, which squandered numerous scoring chances with multiple runners on base and so come away from a 94-win season with little to show for it. But credit for that perhaps goes to Arizona too, which did an outstanding job managing situations. If the D-Backs keep that up over the next week, this matchup against the heavily favored Dodgers might be an awful lot of fun. -- Bradford Doolittle
Phillies 7, Marlins 1: The Phillies dominated in all phases of the game in their sweep of the Marlins. In Game 2, Aaron Nola cruised through seven scoreless innings and the offense ripped out six extra-base hits, including a 110-mph home run from J.T. Realmuto and a Bryson Stott grand slam to break the game open. Can we read too much into these two games? Not really, as the Marlins had the weakest offense of any of the playoff times. Still, the Phillies certainly look like the team that rolled through the NL side of the bracket last season -- except this team is a little deeper, better defensively and still has that raucous home crowd behind them. This sets up what could be the most exciting series of the postseason: Phillies versus Braves. The Braves won the season series 8 to 5, including four out of seven in September. You can throw that out the window. It's 0-0 now. -- Schoenfield