The National League portion of the Wild Card Series began Wednesday and the first game up was the Cincinnati Reds at the Atlanta Braves. It was not the day's first game to be completed, however. Not even close, really.
The Braves and Reds needed 13 innings to decide Game 1. The final score? 1-0 (box score). Freddie Freeman won the game with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 13th. The Max Fried vs. Trevor Bauer pitcher's duel lived up to the hype -- they combined for 14 2/3 scoreless frames -- and the bullpens kept trading zeroes.
Game 1 at Truist Park was a record-setting day in more ways than one. Here's a look at some of the records set on Wednesday.
Bauer set a franchise strikeout record
Bauer, the Cy Young favorite in the National League, continued his excellent season in Game 1 on Wednesday. Bauer held the Braves scoreless -- Atlanta had the second highest scoring offense in baseball during the regular season (5.80 runs per game) -- across 7 2/3 innings. He limited them to two hits while striking out 12.
Those 12 strikeouts are a new Reds postseason record. Here's the leaderboard:
- Trevor Bauer, 2020 Wild Card Series Game 1 vs. Braves: 12 K
- Homer Bailey, 2012 NLDS Game 3 vs. Giants: 10 K
- Jose Rijo, 1990 World Series Game 5 vs. Athletics: 9 K
- Hod Eller, 1919 World Series Game 5 vs. White Sox: 9 K
- Several tied with 8
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Bauer is the fourth pitcher ever with 12 strikeouts and zero walks in a postseason game, joining Gerrit Cole (twice), Stephen Strasburg, and Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. He finished the regular season with a 1.73 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 73 innings. Bauer carried that success into October.
They set a new combined strikeout record
Bauer set a new franchise record for strikeouts in a postseason game and the two teams combined to set a few other strikeout records as well. For starters, their 37 combined strikeouts are the most ever in a postseason game. The list:
- Braves vs. Reds in 2020 Wild Card Series Game 1: 37 K
- Giants vs. Nationals in 2012 NLDS Game 2: 34 K
- Dodgers vs. Red Sox in 2018 World Series Game 3: 34 K
The kicker? The two prior record games were both 18 inning games. The Braves and Reds played only 13 innings, Wednesday. That's an awful lot of strikeouts packed into not that many innings. Such is life in baseball in the year 2020. Strikeouts rule the day.
And secondly, Reds pitchers combined to strike out 21 batters in Game 1. That is tied for the second-highest single game total in the postseason in baseball history. The leaderboard:
- Cleveland in 1996 ALDS Game 4 (vs. Orioles): 23 K (in 12 innings)
- Reds in 2020 Wild Card Series Game 1 (vs. Braves): 21 K (in 13 innings)
- Orioles in 1997 ALCS Game 3 (vs. Cleveland): 21 K (in 11 1/3 innings)
- Giants in 2012 NLDS Game 2 (vs. Nationals): 20 K (in 18 innings)
- Several tied with 19
Every player in the two starting lineups struck out at least once and three players came off the bench and struck out as well. Adam Duvall had four strikeouts; Marcell Ozuna, Austin Riley, and Dansby Swanson each had three strikeouts; and seven players had two strikeouts apiece.
A new postseason record for a scoreless game
It was not until the 13th inning that someone finally pushed across a run in Game 1. Freddie Freeman broke the seal and ended the game with a clean walk-off single to center field against Amir Garrett. It is Atlanta's first walk-off win the postseason since Rafael Furcal's walk-off homer in Game 2 of the 2004 NLDS against the Astros.
Never before in baseball history had a postseason game remained scoreless into the 13th inning. In fact, no postgame game had ever been scoreless going into the 12th inning. This one made it to the 13th. There were of course blown opportunities throughout the game. A sampling of the offensive futility:
- Reds had runners on the corners with no outs in the first.
- Braves had runners on first and second with two outs in the fourth.
- Braves had a runner on second with no outs in the sixth.
- Reds had the bases loaded with two outs in the 11th.
- Reds had runners on the corners with no outs in the 12th.
- Reds had the bases loaded with one out in the 13th.
Those rallies all resulted in zero (0) runs. The Reds went 1 for 12 (.083) with runners in scoring position in Game 1 -- they hit .232 in those situations during the regular season, fourth worst in baseball -- though the Braves weren't much better. They were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position until Freeman's walk-off single.
The brand new Wild Card Series is a best-of-three series, so the Braves are one win away from advancing to the NLDS. Atlanta has not won a postseason series since the 2001 NLDS.