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:

1998 National League Division Series
Team (Wins) Manager Season
Atlanta Braves (3) Bobby Cox 106–56, .654, GA: 18
Chicago Cubs (0) Jim Riggleman 90–73, .552, GB: 12+12
DatesSeptember 30–October 3
TelevisionESPN (Game 1)
Fox (Game 2)
NBC (Game 3)
TV announcersJon Miller and Joe Carter (Game 1)
Thom Brennaman and Bob Brenly (Game 2)
Bob Costas and Joe Morgan (Game 3)
Radio announcersGary Cohen and Dave Campbell
Pete Van Wieren
Skip Caray
Don Sutton
Joe Simpson
Pat Hughes
Ron Santo
Team (Wins) Manager Season
San Diego Padres (3) Bruce Bochy 98–64, .605, GA: 9+12
Houston Astros (1) Larry Dierker 102–60, .630, GA: 12+12
DatesSeptember 29–October 4
TelevisionESPN (Games 1–3)
Fox (Game 4)
TV announcersJon Miller and Joe Morgan (in Houston)
Jon Miller and Ray Knight (Game 3)
Thom Brennaman and Bob Brenly (Game 4)
RadioESPN (National)
KFMB (Padres' broadcast)
KILT (Astros' broadcast)
Radio announcersESPN: Charley Steiner and Rick Sutcliffe
KFMB: Jerry Coleman, Ted Leitner, Bob Chandler
KILT: Milo Hamilton, Alan Ashby
UmpiresMike Winters, Bill Hohn, Jerry Layne, Randy Marsh, Frank Pulli, Wally Bell (Braves–Cubs, Games 1–2; Astros–Padres, Games 3–4)
Ed Rapuano, Jeff Kellogg, Gary Darling, Bob Davidson, Bruce Froemming, Angel Hernandez (Astros–Padres, Games 1–2; Braves–Cubs, Game 3)

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.

1September 30Chicago Cubs – 1, Atlanta Braves – 7Turner Field2:3445,598[2] 
2October 1Chicago Cubs – 1, Atlanta Braves – 2 (10 innings)Turner Field2:4751,713[3] 
3October 3Atlanta Braves – 6, Chicago Cubs – 2Wrigley Field2:5739,597[4]

Houston Astros vs. San Diego Padres

San Diego won the series, 3–1.

1September 29San Diego Padres – 2, Houston Astros – 1Astrodome2:3850,080[5] 
2October 1San Diego Padres – 4, Houston Astros – 5Astrodome2:5345,550[6] 
3October 3Houston Astros – 1, San Diego Padres – 2Qualcomm Stadium2:3265,235[7] 
4October 4Houston Astros – 1, San Diego Padres – 6Qualcomm Stadium2:3964,898[8]

Atlanta vs. Chicago

Game 1

Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia

WP: John Smoltz (1–0)   LP: Mark Clark (0–1)
Home runs:
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 and though the Cubs won the season series 6-3 including a three game sweep in Wrigley Field without NL MVP Sammy Sosa, and a two game sweep in Turner Field, the Braves proved that the post season would be different. John Smoltz pitched masterfully and Michael Tucker started the scoring with a two-run home run off Chicago starter Mark Clark. Then an Andruw Jones sacrifice fly with two on made it 3–0. In the bottom of the seventh, Ryan Klesko put the game away with a grand slam into right field off of Matt Karchner after three walks off of Clark (one) and Felix Heredia (two walks). Clark allowed four runs, but two were unearned. The Cubs would score in the eighth off Smoltz on Tyler Houston's lead off home run. This ended Smoltz's night, but John Rocker and Kerry Ligtenberg slammed the door on Game 1.

Game 2

Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia

WP: Odalis Perez (1–0)   LP: Terry Mulholland (0–1)
Home runs:
CHC: None
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 with an RBI single.

Game 3

Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois

WP: Greg Maddux (1–0)   LP: Kerry Wood (0–1)
Home runs:
ATL: Eddie Pérez (1)
CHC: None

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 Terry Mulholland allowed a single and walk. 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. Mickey Morandini's sacrifice fly and Mark Graces RBI single made it 6–2 Braves, but Ligtenberg retired the Cubs in order in the ninth. José Hernández flied to center for the final out of the series as the Braves won their first game at Wrigley Field of the season.

Composite box

1998 NLDS (3–0): Atlanta Braves over Chicago Cubs

Atlanta Braves021001451115230
Chicago Cubs00000103004174
Total attendance: 136,908   Average attendance: 45,636

Houston vs. San Diego

Game 1

September 29, 1998 3:07 pm (CT) at Astrodome in Houston, Texas
San Diego000001010291
WP: Kevin Brown (1–0)   LP: Randy Johnson (0–1)   Sv: Trevor Hoffman (1)
Home runs:
SD: Greg Vaughn (1)
HOU: None

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 16 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. This was the first road postseason victory for the Padres.

Game 2

October 1, 1998 3:07 pm (CT) at Astrodome in Houston, Texas
San Diego000002002481
WP: Billy Wagner (1–0)   LP: Dan Miceli (0–1)
Home runs:
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, 1998 8:07 pm (PT) at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California
San Diego00000110X230
WP: Dan Miceli (1–1)   LP: Scott Elarton (0–1)   Sv: Trevor Hoffman (2)
Home runs:
HOU: None
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, 1998 4:37 pm (PT) at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California
San Diego01000104X671
WP: Sterling Hitchcock (1–0)   LP: Randy Johnson (0–2)
Home runs:
HOU: None
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 11 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.

Composite box

1998 NLDS (3–1): San Diego Padres over Houston Astros

San Diego Padres01000515214273
Houston Astros1021001128222
Total attendance: 225,763   Average attendance: 56,441


  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.
  2. "1998 NLDS - Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves - Game 1". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  3. "1998 NLDS - Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves - Game 2". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  4. "1998 NLDS - Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs - Game 3". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  5. "1998 NLDS - San Diego Padres vs. Houston Astros - Game 1". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  6. "1998 NLDS - San Diego Padres vs. Houston Astros - Game 2". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  7. "1998 NLDS - Houston Astros vs. San Diego Padres - Game 3". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  8. "1998 NLDS - Houston Astros vs. San Diego Padres - Game 4". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
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