It’s only the fourth day of Division Series play, but the eight remaining contenders are already closing in on a number of franchise and MLB playoff records. Here are just a few of the ways the Astros, Indians, Braves, and Yankees are setting themselves apart this postseason:
The starting pitchers in the first two games of a postseason series each racked up 200+ strikeouts during the regular season — a first in MLB history.
In Game 1 of the ALDS, Astros ace Justin Verlander (290 strikeouts) went up against the Indians’ Corey Kluber (222 strikeouts), while Game 2 featured a matchup between Gerrit Cole (276 strikeouts) and Carlos Carrasco (231 strikeouts). Both times, the Astros’ strikeout leaders came away looking far more dominant: Verlander whiffed seven batters across 5 1/3 innings in Game 1, while Kluber made his exit in the fifth with just two strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. During Game 2, Cole recorded his first postseason win for Houston while tossing seven innings of one-run, 12-strikeout ball — just a smidgen better than Carrasco’s two-run, three-strikeout performance through the first 5 1/3 innings of the Indians’ eventual loss.
Both Altuve and Bregman have the chance to pull ahead as the franchise leader in postseason home runs: Thanks to Altuve’s fifth-inning solo home run off Kluber in Game 1 of the ALDS and Bregman’s 396-foot blast off Trevor Bauer in Game 2, they’ve each logged eight home runs in their postseason careers, the same as longtime slugger Carlos Beltrán accumulated during his first career postseason run. Beltrán set the record back in 2004, when he decorated his NLCS campaign with a solo shot off of the Cardinals’ Julian Tavarez.
The Braves were defeated in back-to-back postseason shutouts for the first time in franchise history.
Not only is this an unfortunate first for the Braves — it’s also just the second time it’s happened in MLB history. The Braves will enter Game 3 of the NLDS on Sunday night with just nine hits (and zero runs) to their name after getting blanked by the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu in Games 1 and 2, respectively
No other playoff team has been shut out in the first two games of a playoff series since 1921, when the Giants opened the 1921 World Series with an 0-2 record against the Yankees. While the Giants eventually staged a massive five-game comeback to take the Series, it’s not certain that the Braves will be able to muster the same kind of strength to overpower the Dodgers for the next three games and advance to the NLCS — let alone the Fall Classic.
Gerrit Cole recorded the second-most strikeouts in an ALDS game.
Not only did Cole take the edge over Carrasco during Game 2 of the ALDS on Saturday; he nearly tied the all-time record for most strikeouts in an ALDS game to date, too. The current record is held by Hall of Fame southpaw Randy Johnson, who delivered 13 strikeouts for the Mariners in the 1997 ALDS. Cole came just one strikeout shy of that mark after he was pulled in the eighth inning of Saturday’s game, making his exit from the mound with three hits, one run, zero walks, and 12 strikeouts over seven innings. He also placed second to Hall of Fame hurler Tom Seaver, who was the first to strike out at least 12 batters with zero walks during a postseason performance.
The Yankees held their own hit parade during Game 2 of the ALDS on Saturday night, led by Aaron Judge‘s 445-foot homer off of Red Sox southpaw David Price in the first inning. Sanchez tacked on two more home runs to become the first Yankees’ catcher since Yogi Berra to record a multi-home run performance in the postseason (Berra earned his stripes during Game 7 of the 1956 World Series).
His second long ball of the evening registered 479 feet — longer than any home run Statcast has tracked in the Division Series since 2015. The current record-holder for longest postseason home run still belongs to the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, however, who clubbed a 491-footer off of Dodgers lefty Alex Wood in the 2017 NLCS.
Entering Sunday and Monday’s games, three of the eight playoff teams are poised for a Division Series sweep. While the Rockies, Braves, and Indians don’t exactly have history on their side, they wouldn’t be the first to claw their way back from an 0-2 deficit. Eight teams have worked their way back from an 0-2 start to the Division Series: the 1981 Dodgers, 1995 Mariners, 1999 and 2003 Red Sox, 2001 and 2017 Yankees, 2012 Giants, and 2015 Blue Jays. Perhaps less encouraging: Only the Dodgers and Giants pushed through their initial disadvantage to lay claim to a World Series.