The World Series is set. This year’s matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox should provide one of the most exciting Fall Classics in years. Before we look forward though, we have to look back at a memorable 2018 MLB postseason.
This year certainly offered some surprising moments and even some MLB history along the way. The 2018 MLB postseason had plenty to offer, from a heated rivalry to the potential start of a new one.
Fans saw a plethora of clutch home runs this postseason and several unbelievable defensive plays. Ultimately, the Red Sox and Dodgers made it to the World Series because they delivered several marquee moments during the playoffs.
Here are the eight most memorable moments from the 2018 MLB postseason.
Andrew Benintendi’s game-ending catch in ALCS Game 4
Sometimes one play can really make all the difference. In Boston’s case, Benintendi’s diving catch in the ninth inning of Game 4 not only won the game for them but ultimately helped decide the series.
Closer Craig Kimbrel struggled mightily in that game, and if the ball drops under Benintendi’s glove, Houston wins the game and ties the series. The Red Sox would then head into a pivotal Game 5 with the series tied, momentum lost and zero faith in their closer.
Instead, Benintendi timed his dive perfectly and got his glove under the ball at just the right moment. It won the game for Boston and it cruised to a victory in Game 5 to punch its ticket to the World Series.
Reliever Brandon Woodruff drills home run in NLCS Game 1
It may seem like a distant memory now but Woodruff’s home run was one of the most unbelievable moments in 2018.
Woodruff entered the game in relief for Gio Gonzalez and was largely expected to just eat innings. After a shutout inning, he walked up to the plate in the bottom of the third inning and drilled a game-tying blast to center field (watch here).
He later achieved history in Game 5 when he drew a walk to become the first relief pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1969 to reach base in two MLB postseason games.
Chris Taylor’s incredible catch in NLCS Game 7
While Taylor’s catch didn’t come in the ninth inning, it carried a similar magnitude to Benintendi’s catch in the ALCS.
Los Angeles led 2-1 in the fifth inning with the game-tying run at second base. Christian Yelich drilled a ball into the gap for what everyone expected to be a double or triple. Instead, Taylor made an extended grab as he fell to the ground, then slid into the wall.
Taylor’s catch not only prevented Lorenzo Cain from scoring the game-tying run but prevented the go-ahead run from being in scoring position. He instantly saved the game and put Los Angeles in position to add insurance runs.
Cody Bellinger’s 13th inning walk-off hit in NLCS Game 4
Bellinger seems to have a gift for delivering timely hits, and it’s no surprise he won the NLCS MVP because of it.
The 23-year-old’s first big moment carried the most impact. Locked into an extra-inning battle, Los Angeles faced a grimacing situation in Game 4. It ran out of pitchers after the 13th inning, and if not for Bellinger’s walk-off hit, Milwaukee might have taken advantage and taken a 3-1 series lead. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Bellinger came through in the big moment and saved his team.
Bellinger’s clutch bat came through in Game 7 as well. As the Dodgers trailed early in the game, he blasted a two-run home run to put them ahead. It would ultimately be the only two runs the Dodgers needed in Game 7 and they won the N.L. pennant as a result.
Brock Holt hits the first postseason cycle in ALDS Game 3
While Woodruff’s home run was surprising, Holt’s cycle in Game 3 of the ALDS was simply unimaginable. In the most embarrassing postseason loss in New York’s history, Holt imprinted himself in the memories of Yankees fans.
The 30-year-old’s magical night seemed unbelievable at every stage. Yet one at-bat after another, he’d step to the plate and drill a big hit for the Red Sox. For him to cap it off with a home run to become the first player to hit for the cycle in a playoff game made it one of the most unforgettable nights in postseason history.
Jose Altuve’s controversial nullified home run
It was the strangest moment of October. What first appeared to be a huge home run by Altuve instead resulted in an out that left the stadium and social media buzzing.
The flawed nature of MLB’s replay system came in to play as Joe West’s call of fan interference stood. While many were outraged that interference was called, despite it apparently happening over the wall, a blocked camera angle from the side eliminated any conclusive evidence to overturn the call.
It won’t stop fans from being upset, as a two-run shot could have changed the game completely. Fans won’t soon forget the moment it happened, but the ALCS came down to other crucial moments.
Jackie Bradley Jr.’s grand slam in ALCS Game 3
Just as Bellinger won the NLCS MVP thanks to his clutch hits, the same story played out in the ALCS for Bradley Jr. However, the 28-year-old center fielder’s play in this series was far more surprising.
Bradley Jr. came into the postseason with a .403 slugging percentage and .717 OPS in the regular season. He was also fairly quiet in the ALDS, but something seemed to change against the Houston Astros.
He stepped to the plate in Game 3 with Boston leading 4-2 in the eighth inning. In need of insurance runs with a slim lead against a loaded lineup, Bradley Jr. took his swing and launched the ball over the wall for a grand slam. Suddenly, a two-run lead turned into a massive six-run advantage and wrapped up a big win on the road for Boston.
Of course, it’s worth noting Bradley Jr.’s clutch play didn’t occur just once. He delivered a three-run double in Game 2 and a go-ahead home run in Game 4 that proved crucial in big wins for Boston. This was a playoff series Bradley Jr. will never forget.
Yasiel Puig’s three-run blast in NLCS Game 7
Puig is a unique player whose personality and playing style are already enough to get under a team’s skin and get them off their game just a little bit in a series.
Los Angeles already led 2-1 when he stepped to the plate with two runners on in the second inning. However, a strikeout to end the inning would have stranded two runners on the bases and kept Milwaukee in the game.
Instead, Puig blasted a three-run shot that broke Milwaukee’s heart and silenced Miller Park for good. He is a thorn in the side of every opponent he faces and in the biggest moment, the thorn took down Milwaukee for good.