The trailing teams both stole games to give us more October baseball. Here’s what went down in a wild night of playoff baseball.
LA Dodgers 15, Atlanta Braves 3 (ATL leads 2–1)
The Dodgers got to face the non-aces of the Braves rotation. Things got out of hand quickly.
What changed the game:
Close games are complicated. It’s my opinion that the Dodgers lost Game 1 of this series in large part because Blake Treinen just wasn’t good. Plenty of Very Online folks wanted to blame Dave Roberts. But Game 3 was not a complicated game. In short: Kyle Wright (0.2 IP, 7 ER, 0 K, 2 BB, 5 H) just wasn’t good. Below are his outcomes.
Wright’s two outs came on back-to-back groundouts with the score 1–0. From there, Wright gave up a double, a walk, and then home runs on back-to-back pitches to lefty sluggers Joc Pederson and Edwin Ríos. Wright’s command was all sorts of iffy — the only batter he managed to get to two strikes on was his last. He left the game with two outs and a runner on first, Dodgers leading 6–0.
After him, Grant Dayton (2.0 IP, 8 ER, 2 K, 1 BB, 8 H) also just wasn’t good.
Dayton’s day started walk-single-HBP (more on that later) before he served up a 90 mph fastball (the highest of the three pink pitches in the plot above) to Max Muncy that he deposited in the Globe Life seats. Dayton did strike out Will Smith to end the inning, but the damage was done. Nine consecutive Dodgers reached base with two outs. They stranded zero runners in the inning.
I’m including these charts because I think they illustrate how brutally effective good hitters can be against pitches placed exactly where they want to hit them. It’s a nice reminder of just how good that pitchers who last through six scoreless innings are.
Take your pick of the Dodgers hitters. All of them reached base at least once. Corey Seager (3–4, 3 R, 3 RBI, HR, 2B) arguably had the most complete night, but his home run actually came in the 3rd inning, putting the Dodgers up 13–0. He was replaced by Matt Beaty in the fifth inning. Joc Pederson (4–6, R, 3 RBI, HR) also had a night to remember, launching four balls harder than 104 mph. On the pitching side of things, there were standouts as well. Julio Urías (5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 K, 2 BB, 3 H) needed 101 pitches to get through five, thanks in part to 27 foul balls by the Braves hitters. His 27% CSW was a clear result, but he still managed to put get 14 whiffs, including 9 on his curveball out of 48 thrown.
What you might have missed:
From the looks of my timeline, plenty of Braves fans had a nice quiet evening watching anything else. I applaud them.
The Dodgers racked up three plunk passes in the game, including this incredible salt-in-the-wounds HBP courtesy of Justin Turner.
Justin Turner kicks baseball, is awarded HBP. pic.twitter.com/YBkDsQ3O5F
— Baseball GIFs (@BaseballGIFScom) October 14, 2020
This play was challenged by Atlanta and Turner still took first. Muncy’s grand slam immediately followed. The other two HBP they received on the night were both taken by Matt Beaty, who did not record an official at-bat.
Zero position players pitched in this game, which is a shame. The Dodgers have a track record of success with position players on the mound: catcher Russell Martin had a 0.00 ERA and 2.21 FIP last year in four innings of work. Unfortunately, Martin didn’t return to the team this year. Again: a shame.
Houston Astros 4, Tampa Bay Rays 3 (TB leads 3–1)
Houston wasn’t swept, and we got yet another tight game featuring strong pitching.
What changed the game:
Tyler Glasnow‘s fastball is very good when it’s in the top third of the zone and much less good when it’s middle-middle. Last night, the Rays got six innings of middle-middle Glasnow. They were lucky to only give up four runs for it. The damage started in the first when Altuve took a middle-in fastball 400ft deep to left-center. Altuve tacked on an RBI double in the third, and then George Springer launched a no-doubter to the fourth level of the Western Metal Supply Company building that would have landed more than 70 feet past the fence.
George Springer upper deck 2-run bomb 💣 pic.twitter.com/CJ2cGfvoIz
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 15, 2020
Glasnow’s final line (6.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 K, 2 BB, 8 H) doesn’t fully reflect how bad this could have been: Houston went just 4–9 with a home run and three singles on pitches in the heart of the zone. He finished with a 25% CSW with 11 whiffs over 96 pitches.
That’s not to say that Houston had this game locked up. Randy Arozarena did was what he apparently does and went deep in the fourth, which tied the game 2–2. And in the 9th, Willy Adames launched a 391 ft double off the left-center wall, just short of Altuve’s first-inning home run, which brought in Joey Wendle and putting the tying run on second with two out. But Yoshitomo Tsutsugo lined out straight to Springer and ended the game and prevent the sweep.
The Astros once again went the Cristian Javier (2.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 K, 1 BB, 1 H) in lieu of their other bullpen arms, and he once again delivered. His earned run came after he walked Ji-Man Choi to open the 9th, and it was Ryan Pressly who gave up the deep double that scored him.
The Astros needed Zack Greinke (6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 K, 1 BB, 5 H) to be better than he had been in the last month of the regular season, and he more than delivered. Aside from Arozarena’s bomb, the Rays almost exclusively stole hits off of him from weak contact. His 31% CSW was below his season-long average, but his fastball racked up 15 called strikes while only being hit into play three times. On the offensive side, José Altuve (2–4, R, 2 RBI, HR, 2B) enjoyed yet another strong postseason outing, as did George Springer (3–4, R, 2 RBI, HR). Springer’s been hot since the beginning of September, but Altuve was ice-cold until the last week of the season.
Things you might have missed:
The long postseason is created a ton of weird statistical trivia, and the Astros are at the heart of plenty of it.
Altuve’s home run brings his postseason total this year to five, which equals his in-season total. He’s not the only Astro in this spot: Carlos Correa also has five regular season and postseason home runs this year. Randy Arozarena also hit his fifth postseason home run on the year, and this trio all sit one home run away from entering the all-time top-10 for single-season home runs. 15 players have hit six in a season, including Giancarlo Stanton this year, but only eight players have exceeded that number.
With their shots, Altuve and Springer both tied Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson for fifth in all-time postseason home runs with 18. Albert Pujols is 4th with 19 and Derek Jeter is 3rd at 20.
Kyle Tucker has now hit safely in every postseason game this year except for Game 3 of this series, but has zero XBH.
Randy Arozarena’s postseason OPS of 1.291 is the highest all-time among players with 50 PAs. Not bad!
Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)