1998 National League Division Series
The 1998 National League Division Series (NLDS), the opening round of the 1998 National League playoffs, began on Tuesday, September 29, and ended on Sunday, October 4, with the champions of the three NL divisions—along with a "wild card" team—participating in two best-of-five series. The teams were:
- (1) Atlanta Braves (Eastern Division champion, 106–56) vs. (4) Chicago Cubs (Wild Card, 90–73): Braves win series, 3–0.
- (2) Houston Astros (Central Division champion, 102–60) vs. (3) San Diego Padres (Western Division champion, 98–64): Padres win series, 3–1.
The higher seed (in parentheses) had the home field advantage, which for the first time was determined by playing record. Also for the first time, the team with home field advantage played the first two games at home, with potentially Game 5 at home as well; previously, the team with the home field "advantage" had played the first two games on the road, with the possibility of the final three games at home. The Cubs had won the wild card spot through a one-game playoff with the San Francisco Giants, winning 5–3 on September 28.
The Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres went on to meet in the NL Championship Series (NLCS). The Padres defeated the Braves four games to two to become the National League champion, and lost to the American League champion New York Yankees in the 1998 World Series.
Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs
Atlanta won the series, 3–0.
|1||September 30||Chicago Cubs – 1, Atlanta Braves – 7||Turner Field||2:34||45,598|
|2||October 1||Chicago Cubs – 1, Atlanta Braves – 2 (10 innings)||Turner Field||2:47||51,713|
|3||October 3||Atlanta Braves – 6, Chicago Cubs – 2||Wrigley Field||2:57||39,597|
Houston Astros vs. San Diego Padres
San Diego won the series, 3–1.
|1||September 29||San Diego Padres – 2, Houston Astros – 1||Astrodome||2:38||50,080|
|2||October 1||San Diego Padres – 4, Houston Astros – 5||Astrodome||2:53||45,550|
|3||October 3||Houston Astros – 1, San Diego Padres – 2||Qualcomm Stadium||2:32||65,235|
|4||October 4||Houston Astros – 1, San Diego Padres – 6||Qualcomm Stadium||2:39||64,898|
Atlanta vs. Chicago
Game 1, September 30
| WP: John Smoltz (1–0) LP: Mark Clark (0–1)|
CHC: Tyler Houston (1)
ATL: Michael Tucker (1), Ryan Klesko (1)
The Braves faced the Chicago Cubs, who made it into the playoffs by beating the San Francisco Giants in a tiebreaker for the Wild Card spot. The Braves had sixteen more regular season wins and it showed in Game 1. John Smoltz pitched masterfully and Michael Tucker started the scoring with a two-run homer off Chicago starter Mark Clark. Then an Andruw Jones sacrifice fly made it 3–0. In the bottom of the seventh, Ryan Klesko put the game away with a grand slam into right field. The Cubs would score in the eighth off Smoltz, but John Rocker and Kerry Ligtenberg slammed the door on Game 1.
Game 2, October 1
| WP: Odalis Perez (1–0) LP: Terry Mulholland (0–1)|
ATL: Javy López (1)
Game 2 was a pitchers' duel. Kevin Tapani faced Tom Glavine; the two had previously faced each other in the 1991 World Series. Lance Johnson drove in the lone Chicago run in the top of the sixth on a groundout. However, leaving Tapani in to pitch the ninth ultimately cost the Cubs the game. Javy López hit the game-tying home run and Chipper Jones drove in the winning run in the tenth off Terry Mulholland.
Game 3, October 3
| WP: Greg Maddux (1–0) LP: Kerry Wood (0–1)|
ATL: Eddie Pérez (1)
Game 3 was another pitchers' duel. Greg Maddux faced Rookie of the Year Kerry Wood, hoping to keep the ship afloat for the Cubs. The Braves scored first in the top of the third when Maddux doubled and later scored on a passed ball with two outs. Wood pitched five innings and that was the only run he would allow. Maddux was masterful, carrying a shutout into the bottom of the eighth. In the top of the eighth, Gerald Williams drove in another run with an RBI single off Rod Beck after Mulholland was lifted. When Andruw Jones was intentionally walked to load the bases, Eddie Pérez belted a grand slam into left field to put the game and the series away. Maddux was lifted after giving up three straight singles in favor in Ligtenberg. Two runs would score, but no more. José Hernández flied to center for the final out of the series.
|Total attendance: 136,908 Average attendance: 45,636|
Houston vs. San Diego
Game 1, September 29
| WP: Kevin Brown (1–0) LP: Randy Johnson (0–1) Sv: Trevor Hoffman (1)|
SD: Greg Vaughn (1)
The Astros entered the playoffs with the league's best offense and red-hot pitcher Randy Johnson, who had gone 10–1 since being traded to the Astros in a mid-season deadline deal, well rested for Game 1. However, Padres ace Kevin Brown was more than up for the challenge as he set an LDS record striking out sixteen Astros in eight innings before turning the game over to all-star closer Trevor Hoffman for the save. The Padres only managed two runs, including a home run by slugger Greg Vaughn. Despite Brown's dominant performance, the game was not without its tense moments thanks to a less than perfect ninth inning. Hoffman, who had tied the NL record for saves with 53, did allow an unearned run on two hits thanks to a throwing error by third baseman Ken Caminiti. The error by the former Astro brought Houston to within one run before Hoffman slammed the door ending the game at 2–1.
Game 2, October 1
| WP: Billy Wagner (1–0) LP: Dan Miceli (0–1)|
SD: Jim Leyritz (1)
HOU: Derek Bell (1)
Shane Reynolds pitched a strong seven innings for Houston yielding only two runs and the Astros' offense showed some of its regular season league-leading form by tagging Padres' starter Andy Ashby for three runs and chasing him out of the game after only four innings. Leading 3–2 and looking to give closer Billy Wagner a little more room to work with, the Astros scored again off former Astro Donnie Wall in the bottom of the eighth inning sending Wagner to the hill with 4–2 lead. Armed with a 100 mph fastball, Wagner was 30 for 35 in save opportunities and now had a complement to his fastball in the form of a newly learned slider courtesy of teammate Randy Johnson. Nonetheless, Wagner surrendered a single to 1996 MVP Ken Caminiti and then a pinch-hit game-tying home run to Jim Leyritz who had done the same thing as a member of the New York Yankees to Mark Wohlers of the Braves in the 1996 World Series. Unfazed, the Astros led off the bottom of the inning with an infield single by Ricky Gutierrez off Dan Miceli. The Padres countered by bringing in closer Trevor Hoffman. After a sacrifice by catcher Brad Ausmus moved him to second base, Gutierrez stole third uncontested setting up pinch-hitter Bill Spiers to be the game's hero. Spiers delivered with a single off Hoffman and the Astros had their first postseason victory since 1986.
Game 3, October 3
| WP: Dan Miceli (1–1) LP: Scott Elarton (0–1) Sv: Trevor Hoffman (2)|
SD: Jim Leyritz (2)
With their Game 1 victory, the Padres had taken home-field advantage away from the favored Astros and San Diego manager Bruce Bochy was determined not to let the momentum turn in Houston's favor after Game 2, so he decided to gamble and started Game 1 starter Kevin Brown on short rest instead of lefty Sterling Hitchcock. The explosive Astros offense, being predominantly right-handed, was especially brutal on left-handed pitchers and a Game 3 win by Houston would have left the Padres facing elimination in Game 4 against Randy Johnson. Brown was opposed by fellow sinkerballer Mike Hampton of the Astros who proved to be Brown's equal. Not nearly the same unhittable master of Game 1, Brown's control was shaky from the beginning as he walked five Astros in seven innings. Still, the Astros were never able to deliver the knock-out blow and managed only one run against Brown, but were still tied going into the bottom of the seventh thanks to a solid six innings of one-run two-hit ball by Mike Hampton. In the bottom of the seventh, Jim Leyritz added yet another chapter to his resume of clutch October heroics with a go-ahead home run off Astros reliever Scott Elarton that gave the Padres a 2–1 lead. Neither team scored again and Trevor Hoffman struck out the side in the top of the ninth for the save.
Game 4, October 4
| WP: Sterling Hitchcock (1–0) LP: Randy Johnson (0–2)|
SD: Jim Leyritz (3), Wally Joyner (1)
The only game of the series that wasn't decided by one run began with veteran former Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson squaring off against 27-year-old Sterling Hitchcock who was making his first postseason start. It was Hitchcock, however, that proved dominant by striking out eleven Astros in only six innings of work while Leyritz hit his third home run in as many games to help the Padres to a 2–1 lead. With the Astros' highly touted offense rendered almost completely silent, the bullpen finally collapsed in the eighth inning as Houston pitchers surrendered four runs to the Padres leading to a 6–1 series-clinching victory for San Diego.
|San Diego Padres||0||1||0||0||0||5||1||5||2||14||27||3|
|Total attendance: 225,763 Average attendance: 56,441|
Hammered down the left field line...fair ball! Braves win! They lead two games to none!— Thom Brennaman, calling Chipper Jones' walkoff single in Game 2
The Padres will march to Atlanta!— Thom Brennaman, calling the final out, San Diego vs. Houston
- "1998 NLDS - Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves - Game 1". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1998 NLDS - Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves - Game 2". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1998 NLDS - Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs - Game 3". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1998 NLDS - San Diego Padres vs. Houston Astros - Game 1". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1998 NLDS - San Diego Padres vs. Houston Astros - Game 2". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1998 NLDS - Houston Astros vs. San Diego Padres - Game 3". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1998 NLDS - Houston Astros vs. San Diego Padres - Game 4". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.