The 2020 Major League Baseball postseason rolled on with four games Thursday in the best-of-three Wild Card Series. Three more teams -- the Braves, Athletics and Dodgers -- punched their ticket to the divisional round, while the Padres battled back in their series against the Cardinals to force a decisive Game 3. The day was originally set to have a five-game schedule, but Game 2 of Marlins-Cubs was rained out and pushed to Friday.
Below are the results from Thursday and key takeaways from the day.
Wild Card Series schedule/scores
- Game 2: Braves 5, Reds 0 (FINAL) -- ATL advances 2-0
- Game 3: Athletics 6, White Sox 4 (FINAL) -- OAK advances 2-1
- Game 2: Padres 11, Cardinals 9, (FINAL) -- Series tied, 1-1
- Game 2: Dodgers 3, Brewers 0 (FINAL) -- LAD advances 2-0
Kershaw sets personal record, Dodgers move on
The Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to the National League Divisional Series on Thursday after sweeping the Milwaukee Brewers in the best-of-three wild card round.
The Dodgers were paced by left-hander Clayton Kershaw, the way they have been countless times over his big-league career. He delivered a vintage performance: tying his postseason career-high with eight innings pitched, and setting a personal record with 13 strikeouts. Kershaw's slider played a key role in his night, as the Brewers whiffed on 20 of the 32 swings they took against the pitch.
Kershaw's opposite, Brandon Woodruff, put together the makings of a good start as well. Things came off the rails for Woodruff during the fifth inning, however, as he allowed three runs to score. The first blow was delivered by catcher Austin Barnes, to make it 1-0. Mookie Betts then doubled in a pair to give the Dodgers an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
The No. 1 seed Dodgers will play the winner of the San Diego Padres-St. Louis Cardinals series, which will conclude on Friday. The No. 8 seed Brewers, conversely, will hit the drawing board and hope to conjure up a plan for installing a better offense heading into next season.
First things first, yes, we have to give the Braves' pitchers credit. In a two-game series against the Reds, basically the entire Braves pitching staff dominated. Sure, the Reds got 11 hits in Game 1, but it was 10 singles and one double. They also scored zero times in 13 innings while striking out 16 times. Max Fried and the relief corps deserve credit. In Game 2, we have to credit rookie Ian Anderson being nails in his postseason debut, striking out nine in his six innings of scoreless work. He allowed only two hits, both singles.
Let's also credit Marcell Ozuna for his two-run shot in the eighth to give the Braves some breathing room ...
... and then Adam Duvall for putting it out of reach.
There, we've gotten all the credit for the Braves in their sweep out of the way.
Now, onto the Reds. The 22-inning scoreless streak in the playoffs is a Major League record to begin a postseason. The Reds offense was 8 for 73 (.110) in the two-game series. Their five walks and one hit batsman run them up to a .177 on-base percentage. The slugging was .181. It's only a two-game sample, obviously, and if this was simply the first two games of the regular season we could just call it a slow start. Instead, the Reds came in having won 11 of their last 14 and got stellar pitching for 20 innings before the bottom of the eighth on Thursday. And they are headed home for the winter having been swept in two games.
Back on the Braves' end, though, let's conclude on a positive note. The Braves have finally advanced a playoff round. Not since 2001 have they done so. Since then, there had been eight NLDS losses (four of them in five games) along with one loss in a wild-card game.
A's snap elimination game skid
The Oakland Athletics rallied in Wednesday's win-or-go-home game to defeat the Chicago White Sox, 6-4, to advance to the AL Division Series. With the win in the best-of-three Wild Card Series, Oakland snapped its MLB record streak of nine consecutive losses in winner-take-all games. This was the A's first since elimination game win since Game 7 of the 1973 World Series.
It's also the first time Oakland advanced past the first round of the postseason since 2006. The No. 2 seed A's will face the division rival and No. 6 seed Houston Astros in the ALDS. The A's dominated the Astros in the regular season, finishing 7-3 with the AL West title.
After the White Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third, the A's answered with four runs in the fourth inning. Chicago tied the game back up in the fifth inning, but Chad Pinder hit the go ahead two-run single with two outs in the fifth. Pinder's RBI single was the first run-scoring postseason hit by any A's batter with runners in scoring position since the 2014 AL Wild Card Game.
For more takeaways from this game, you can read our full breakdown here.
Padres' offense comes to life
It looked as thought the Padres, who had the NL's second-best record and one of baseball's best offenses in the 60-game regular season, were heading for a quiet exit in their Wild Card Series matchup against the Cardinals. Then Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning on Thursday. Tatis' homer was the first of five for San Diego in a three-inning span. Tatis and Wil Myers both hit two homers, making history in the process, en route to a 11-9 win. Read more about that game here.