The Division Serieses have almost all come to an end, and I have to say the whole neutral site situation hasn’t been nearly as weird as I was expecting. Listening to the signs above the Crawford Boxes in Houston turn into enormous gongs has been interesting, but aside from that, I’ve barely gotten any mental whiplash from pinstripes in Petco and the like.
Last night was a huge night for every team still in it, so let’s recap, shall we?
Braves 7 – Marlins 0
It was Sixto Sánchez night in Houston as Miami turned to their electric rookie in hopes of avoiding the sweep, and when he got through the top of the first inning on a mere 5 pitches, it looked like he may be up to the task. Unfortunately, his command slipped in the second, and he was pulled after it took him 50 pitches to get through three innings, having given up four runs (all earned) on four hits and three walks. Trevor Rogers was unable to stop the bleeding, giving up a further three runs (only two earned) over another 1.2 innings. The five Miami relievers who worked the rest of the game were able to blank Atlanta, but by then the damage had been done and Miami had no answer for the Braves staff.
For Atlanta, it was Kyle Wright who did the work, throwing 6 innings of scoreless ball, giving up only three hits and a pair of walks to go with 7 strikeouts. Offensively, the Braves didn’t hit a single home run in yesterday’s game, but that wasn’t for lack of an attempt by Travis d’Arnaud to drive a pitch at his eyes into the seats that just didn’t quite have the height and ended up as a double:
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) October 8, 2020
d’Arneau with a run-scoring XBH? Hm, I feel like I’ve heard that one before.
Umpire Discourse has been an unfortunately big part of both the NLDS and ALDS this year, and the crew in Minute Maid didn’t distinguish themselves on that point Thursday, with yet another example of the home plate umpire losing track of the count. This time, it was against Freddie Freeman in the top of the third, and after only one pitch. Freeman caught it in time before it was able to affect the at-bat, but coming a day behind what should have been a walk turned into a flyout for Adam Duvall, it’s a bad look. Ball and strike calls are always going to be partisan fights, but it’s inexcusable for umpires to lose track of the count, especially two games in a row.
Thankfully in the 8th inning we were treated to a story from newly minted (and quite enjoyable if I do say so myself) broadcaster Adam Wainwright about the prevalence of flat earth believers in the Cardinals locker room to help us forget about the ball/strike misconduct:
With this win, the Braves break their own NLCS drought, making it through for the first time since 2001. But more importantly, it means one of the most inexplicable streaks in baseball comes to an end as the Marlins lose their first postseason series ever. But most importantly, Cut4 made this art to celebrate:
— Cut4 (@Cut4) October 8, 2020
Braves Advance To NLCS 3-0
Athletics 6 – Astros 11
In LA, Oakland sought to force a game five against their rival Astros, and for three-and-a-half innings, it looked like they might be able to do it. They jumped on Zack Greinke early, scoring three runs in the top of the second inning, including this “When Sign Giving Goes Wrong” PSA starring Ramón Laureano (who would hit two homers in this game):
Keep the signs coming Greinke 😂pic.twitter.com/vmZj9w8P3C
— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) October 8, 2020
The A’s were able to chase Greinke from the game after scoring four runs in 4.2 innings, but at that point, Houston’s offense had been able to tag Frankie Montas for five runs in the bottom of the 4th, including a no-doubter off of the bat of Carlos Correa which elicited this reaction:
Who says baseball isn't fun? pic.twitter.com/Ik7K3r9qgx
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) October 8, 2020
Houston would tack on another two runs in each of the next three innings. Michael Brantley had himself a day for the Astros, going 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs to go with 3 RBI and 3 runs. And while Ryan Pressly’s shakiness continued with a pair of Oakland runs in the 9th, it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit.
In addition to the power display in Dodger Stadium, yesterday’s game featured this heavily tilted defensive alignment:
— Daren Willman (@darenw) October 8, 2020
Matt Olson would end the at-bat with a swinging strikeout, sadly. In a move that’s sure to make fans all across our great sport happy, it’s the Astros that come out on top in the Battle For The West.
Astros Advance To ALCS 3-1
Rays 1 – Yankees 5
In more news that’s sure to thrill baseball fans far and wide, the Yankees were the only team able to stave off elimination in Thursday’s slate. New York was able to get just enough out of starter Jordan Montgomery, who threw 4 innings of one-run ball, working around three hits and three walks while tallying up a trio of strikeouts and holding down the surging Rays offense. Followed by a pair of innings from Chad Green and 1.2 innings of work from Zack Britton, it was Aroldis Chapman making his first appearance since the second Wild Card game to nail down a 1.1 inning save. He walked one and struck out two, running his fastball velo back up to the 101 we saw against Cleveland. The quartet of Yankees managed the seeming miracle of holding Randy Arozarena hitless in his 0-for-4 day, striking him out twice for good measure. Offensively, it was Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres playing the role of bombers, with one HR each. Gleyber’s, a two-run shot, was a towering blast into the top level of the Western Metal seats:
Gley puttin' it down for Californ-i-a. pic.twitter.com/pZWIDlTkPN
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) October 9, 2020
The decision to sit Gary Sánchez for Kyle Higashioka was a source of much uh, “spirited” controversy across the Yankeeverse, but it paid off as Higgy went 2-for-4 with an RBI. With Gerrit Cole starting tomorrow, odds are high it will be Higgy behind the dish again.
The Rays only run was scored on a Brandon Lowe fielders choice in the third inning, as they were held to only three hits on the day. Opener Ryan Thompson made it through the first inning without incident but was tagged for two runs in the second, exiting before he could finish the frame. The Fratty Pirate himself, Ryan Yarbrough, was brought in to fil the bulk role for Tampa, and was able to help preserve the bullpen, pitching a full 5 innings, although he gave up two more runs while scattering six hits and only striking out one. Aaron Slegers finished up the game for Tampa, allowing a run in 1.1 innings of work. But given that Tampa will be deploying Tyler Glasnow on two days rest in Friday’s game, giving the rest of the pen even a single day off may prove to be a huge boon for Tampa’s staff.
Much to the delight of this author, a newly invigorated Yankees team force a game five, and Voit was happy enough to share a souvenir with the Utz Girl in the 7th in celebration:
Series Tied 2-2
Dodgers 12 – Padres 3
For a minute there it looked like Slam Diego was going to live to fight another day, as they jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the second inning…only to watch the Dodgers score 5 runs in the top of the third and never look back. Dustin May only pitched a single inning, because apparently, every team needs to have a confusing opener decision in these games. He gave way to Adam Kolarek who was only able to record 2 outs while giving up the pair of earned runs on a trio of hits and a pair of walks.
He was in turn relieved by Julio Urías, who came into a bases-loaded, 2 out jam and proceeded to strike out Fernando Tatis Jr. on three pitches. Urías would play the role of Bulk Guy for LA, pitching 5.0 innings, only walking one, giving up one hit, and letting a single unearned run score (more on that in a bit) to go with 6 strikeouts.
For their part, the Padres continued to bullpen by necessity. Adrian Morejon started the game, pitching two innings and giving up three runs, all earned. San Diego would fill the remaining seven innings with 10 different pitchers, and might have needed to get a cardboard cutout involved if things went wrong:
lol only now just noticing the Kirby Yates cardboard cutout in the Pads pen pic.twitter.com/9q46XcTe7h
— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) October 9, 2020
San Diego looked like they might be able to climb back into it, but ended up only getting 1 run across, on a balk from Urías, leading to the only run scored against him (with Brusdar Graterol last night that makes LA the first team to balk on back-to-back nights in DS history.)
Will Smith managed to make a bit of history during the game as well, becoming the first Dodger ever to have a 5-hit postseason game. His final line was 5-for-6, two of them doubles, with 3 RBI and a run.
The atmosphere at this game was markedly different from others I’ve seen so far, as the player’s families were all in the field level section and could be heard cheering throughout. Well, while they weren’t going to war with each other, at least:
I've got my money on 14 in this fight, that kid is a man amongst boys pic.twitter.com/CXscoT5SCY
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) October 9, 2020
Thus ends an exciting if somewhat improbable campaign from San Diego, who I’m sure we’ll see playing in many more Division Series soon.
Dodgers Advance To NLCS 3-0
Photo courtesy of Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)