During MLB’s busy wild-card series, we’ll keep you updated right here on results, must-see moments and what’s next in each matchup.
What happened? You know the narrative by now. In October, Clayton Kershaw just isn’t himself. He doesn’t perform like a future Hall of Famer or the best pitcher on the planet. While that oversimplifies things a bit, the fact is there is a Good Clayton Kershaw and Bad Clayton Kershaw in the postseason.
No doubt which one we saw Thursday. It was Best Clayton Kershaw.
It was only the first round, so this isn’t the grand Kershaw redemption story, but it was Kershaw and the Dodgers taking care of business. Kershaw threw eight shutout innings, striking out 13 as the Dodgers beat the Brewers 3-0 to sweep the NL wild-card series and move on to the next round.
This was just the warm-up round for the Dodgers, facing a Brewers team that didn’t have much of a chance — especially with their best pitcher injured and their MVP candidate Christian Yelich in a season-long slump.
But anything can happen in three games and the Dodgers made sure it didn’t. After a 4-2 victory in Game 1, the Dodgers scored three runs in the fifth inning Thursday night and that was enough. Mookie Betts had another big hit, a two-run double to key the rally.
It wasn’t flashy or dramatic or as tense as some of the other games we’ve seen so far. The Dodgers — and Kershaw — made it look easy. He allowed just three hits, had his slider working and he looked like everything Kershaw should look like in October.
It was enough to make you wonder whether this is the year he finally does this in the World Series too.
What’s next? The Dodgers move on to the NLDS where they await the winner of the Padres vs. Cardinals series. In the bigger picture, what’s next for the Dodgers is just another step toward the only goal that matters — finally winning a World Series. That is what they’ll be judged against this October, not how easily they dispatched of the Brewers.
The Dodgers have seen the Padres more, facing them 10 times during the regular season and winning six of those. They have not played the Cardinals this year, but have plenty of postseason clashes with them in years past (some that probably still haunt Kershaw).
You see this? They call this Public Enemy No. 1, and yeah, it’s Vintage Kershaw.
What happened? The San Diego Padres have forced a winner-take-all Game 3 after a thrilling come-from-behind 11-9 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the wild-card series.
Trailing 6-2 in the sixth inning, the Padres used the long ball to rally and extend the series. MVP candidates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado launched back-to-back home runs in the sixth against Cardinals reliever Giovanny Gallegos to tie the game. Tatis’ three-run blast was the first of his career in the postseason.
In the seventh, Wil Myers ripped a solo home run just inside the left-field foul pole to give San Diego its first lead in the series. Later in the frame, Tatis hit his second homer of the game — an opposite-field, two-run blast. In the eighth, it was Myers’ turn again as he added a two-run homer.
Those runs loomed large as St. Louis plated three runs in the eighth and ninth innings.
Just as they did in Game 1, the Cardinals produced early offense, scoring four runs over the first two innings. Yadier Molina opened the scoring with a first-inning RBI single. St. Louis struck for three in the second inning on Harrison Bader’s run-scoring single and Kolten Wong’s two-run home run.
Unlike Game 1, the Cardinals pitching staff couldn’t make the lead stand up.
Veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright was gone after 3 1/3 innings after allowing two runs on six hits. The Cardinals bullpen was even shakier, allowing seven runs from the sixth inning on.
What’s next?: The Padres and Cardinals will do it all over again on Friday to determine who will advance to the NLDS. The winning team will face the winner of the Dodgers-Brewers wild-card series.
St. Louis will send struggling ace Jack Flaherty (4-3, 4.91) to the hill. San Diego has not yet announced a starting pitcher. The game time will also be determined based on the outcome of Thursday’s game in Los Angeles.
You see this? If you didn’t know Fernando Tatis Jr. was a star before Game 2 …
… now you know.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is the 3rd-youngest player in postseason history with a multi-HR game, at 21 y, 273 d.
Andruw Jones: 19 y, 180 d (1996 WS Game 1)
Carlos Correa: 21 y, 20 d (2015 ALDS Game 4)
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 2, 2020
Game 3: Oakland A’s 6, Chicago White Sox 4
What happened? The Oakland A’s became the fourth and final team to advance to the ALDS, defeating the Chicago White Sox, 6-4, in a winner-take-all Game 3 characterized by a revolving door on the pitching mound.
After the teams went back and forth in the early going, Chad Pinder put the A’s ahead for good with a two-out, two-run single in the fifth inning. The White Sox attempted to rally in the eighth inning, but Joakim Soria escaped a bases loaded jam by getting AL MVP candidate Jose Abreu to ground into an inning-ending double play.
White Sox rookie Luis Robert opened the scoring with a monster 487-foot home run in the second inning. In the third, Robert struck again, plating a run with a single. He came around to score on Nomar Mazara’s double, which extended Chicago’s lead to three runs.
Oakland countered with four runs in the fourth inning. Sean Murphy fueled the rally with a two-run home run. Later, Mark Canha and Matt Olson drew back-to-back bases loaded walks to tie and take the lead. Yoan Moncada tied it again with an RBI single in the fifth.
Overall, 17 different pitchers were used in the game. Nine of those were White Sox pitchers. Manager Rick Renteria aggressively removed starting pitcher Dane Dunning four batters into the game after getting into a first-and-third jam. Freshly drafted rookie Garrett Crochet escaped the inning, but quickly left with an injury. Evan Marshall was the only White Sox pitcher to record at least six outs.
On the A’s side, Frankie Montas was the only pitcher to record at least six outs. He earned the victory after allowing one run over two innings.
The A’s entered Thursday having lost nine straight winner-take-all games dating back to 1973. Amazingly, this was the first winner-take-all postseason game in White Sox franchise history. For those thinking about the 2008 AL Central tiebreaker game, that was considered an extension of the regular season.
What’s next? The A’s will take on the Houston Astros in a mouth-watering ALDS that will have no shortage of storylines and tension.
Mike Fiers, who was Oakland’s starting pitcher in Game 3, was the whistleblower who exposed Houston’s sign-stealing scheme. Now he’ll almost certainly get to face his former team for the first time since that revelation after missing them multiple times during the regular season.
Oakland was also the team that ended Houston’s three-year run as AL West champions. The division rivals met 10 times during the regular season, with Oakland earning seven victories.
Game 1 of the ALDS will take place at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Monday, Oct. 5.
You see this? Tommy La Stella’s juggling catch in the fifth inning prevented the White Sox from retaking the lead.
Game 2: Atlanta Braves 5, Cincinnati Reds 0
What happened? The Cincinnati Reds came into the NL wild-card series pegged as an underdog that could make an October run — and they’re leaving without scoring a single run.
The Atlanta Braves sent the Reds packing on Thursday, sweeping their best-of-three series with another shutout win, this time 5-0.
After a historic Game 1 that was scoreless for a record 12 innings, the offense had to be better in Game 2, right? Well, it was for the Braves. The Reds? Not so much.
Even though the game was scoreless into the bottom of the fifth, the Braves broke another tie when Ronald Acuña Jr. hit an RBI double. Both starting pitchers were solid, but Braves rookie Ian Anderson had the best game of his young career — throwing six shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only two hits.
The game looked close until the ninth inning when Marcell Ozuna, quiet in the series until this point, blasted a two-run homer that sealed the Reds’ fate and sent the Braves to the NLDS. Adam Duvall followed with another two-run dinger to make the lead 5-0.
For the Braves, this snaps a streak of 10 straight postseason series losses that dated back to 2001.
What’s next? The No. 2 seed Braves now advance to the second round of the postseason bracket, where they await the winner of the Chicago Cubs/Miami Marlins series. The Braves will now wonder about the enemy they know or the one they don’t.
They played the division-rival Marlins 10 times during the regular season, winning six of them (and once scoring 29 runs). They haven’t played the Cubs at all this year.
For the Reds, it’s a disappointing end to the season — but they have a strong core that can return for a run next year. The biggest question is whether they can re-sign ace Trevor Bauer, who is a free agent.
You see this? Ozuna, who led the NL this season in homers and RBIs, got his first hit of the postseason in the ninth inning and everybody noticed. He even stopped midway through his trot for a pseudo-selfie.
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