American League Wild Card Game History
Image courtesy of Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports2012 AL Wild Card Game
Baltimore Orioles 5, Texas Rangers 1
Yu Darvish faced off against Joe Saunders in the AL’s inaugural Wild Card game. Both clubs scored runs in the first frame as the starters worked out some kinks. From there, Darvish and Saunders pitched shutout baseball until the sixth. Adam Jones drove in a run on a sacrifice fly and Nate McLouth added an RBI single in the seventh. Former Twin Joe Nathan would allow two insurance runs in the ninth inning to bolster Baltimore’s lead. The Orioles relief trio of Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz, and Jim Johnson did not allow a run over the final 3.1 innings.
2013 AL Wild Card Game
Tampa Bay Rays 4, Cleveland Indians 0
Tampa Bay entered the AL’s second Wild Card game having already defeated the Texas Rangers in a tie-breaker game. Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb was outstanding on the mound as he recorded 6.2 shutout innings with five strikeouts. Cobb had missed 50 games during the regular season after taking a line-drive off his head. Former Twin Delmon Young homered in the third inning off rookie Danny Salazar. Desmond Jennings went 2-for-3 in the game with a double and two RBI. Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney combined for 2.1 shutout innings to finish off the Indians.
2014 AL Wild Card Game
Kansas City Royals 9, Oakland Athletics 8 (12 Innings)
Royals fans were just getting a taste of a wild playoff run as the club would use this game as a launching pad for a run to the AL pennant. This game was originally touted as a pitching battle between Oakland’s Jon Lester and Kansas City’s James Shields but neither would see the end of this one. Former Twins Josh Willingham and Nick Punto made appearances in the game but wound up on the losing end. Kansas City scored three runs in the eighth inning and another in the ninth to tie the game. The A’s would take the lead in the top of the 12th inning but the Royals couldn’t be stopped. Big hits from Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez pushed the Royals to the ALDS.
2015 AL Wild Card Game
Houston Astros 3, New York Yankees 0
The Astros, like the Twins this season, headed to New York City after multiple years of futility. Houston had averaged 104 losses in their previous four seasons. Dallas Keuchel was pitching on three days rest for the first time in his career and pitched masterfully. In six shutout innings, he scattered three hits and struck out seven. He became the first pitcher with a scoreless postseason start on three day’s rest since Josh Beckett in the 2003 World Series. Colby Rasmus and former Twin Carlos Gomez homered to help the Astros win their first postseason game since the 2005 NLCS. Fans in New York were booing with every out in the late innings. Houston moved on to face Kansas City, the eventual World Series Champions.
2016 AL Wild Card Game
Toronto Blue Jays 5, Baltimore Orioles 2 (11 Innings)
Edwin Encarnacion’s walk-off three-run home run sent Toronto fans home happy. While this game might be remembered for its ending, others might remember it for the moment when a fan threw a nearly full can of beer at Orioles left fielder Hyun Soo Kim while he caught a deep fly ball in the eighth inning. Jose Bautista smacked a solo home run to start the scoring in the second inning. Mark Trumbo hit a two-run shot to account for all of Baltimore’s offense. Orioles manager Buck Showalter opted not to use closer Zach Britton in extra-innings and that could have been the difference in the game. Ubaldo Jimenez gave up two singles and the big fly to end the game.
Some important hits from former Twins and one upset at Yankee Stadium were all part of previous AL Wild Card games. Let's hope some of this history repeats itself on Tuesday night.