The final four-game day of the 2020 MLB season is in the books. Action started just after 2 p.m. ET and went into the morning hours in that time zone. Unfortunately for fans who wanted as many games as possible in the divisional round, there wasn't much cooperation on Thursday. The Yankees did push the Rays to the brink with Game 5 coming Friday (takeaways from that game here). Otherwise, the other three series closed things down, with the Astros taking down the A's in four and the Braves and Dodgers completing sweeps. Both were void of drama late in Game 3, too.
Here are the day's scores and takeaways from the action.
MLB playoff TV schedule, scores
- FINAL: Braves 7, Marlins 0 -- Atlanta wins series 3-0
- FINAL: Astros 11, Athletics 6 -- Houston wins series 3-1
- FINAL: Yankees 5, Rays 1 -- Series tied 2-2
- FINAL: Dodgers 12, Padres 3 -- Los Angeles wins series 3-0
Yankees, Rays headed to Game 5
The Yankees got four solid innings from starter Jordan Montgomery while a Luke Voit homer started a two-run rally in the second and that's all the Yankees would need. They would, of course, tack on with the big insurance blow being Gleyber Torres' two-run shot in the sixth. Chad Green, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman combined for seven strikeouts in five scoreless, hitless innings in relief and the Yankees have sent things to a decisive Game 5. The Rays will start Tyler Glasnow (pitching plan here) while the Yankees counter with Gerrit Cole (more on that here). Pirates fans everywhere weep.
Dodgers use big third to oust Padres
Thanks to the starting pitching situation the Padres have faced throughout the last few weeks, they were forced to go with a bullpen game in Game 3. It didn't take long for the Dodgers' stacked offense to exploit the situation. The Dodgers struck first with a run in the top of the second. The Padres answered with two in the bottom of the frame, and it looked like this might a back-and-forth affair. Instead, the Dodgers put up a five-spot in the third and put it on cruise control.
Something that bodes well for the Dodgers' offense moving forward is the way they scored all these runs. They were heavily dependent on home runs in the regular season, but Globe Life Field is where they'll play the rest of 2020, no matter how far they make it (it is the host site for this series, the NLCS and the World Series). That's the most homer-suppressing park in baseball in 2020. The Dodgers in Game 3 showed a "death by a thousand paper cuts" offense. They scored 12 runs on 14 hits, but none of those hits were home runs.
To illustrate, here's the sequence of the Dodgers' five-run third: Walk, single, single, groundout, strikeout, intentional walk, single, single, flyout.
Who said teams don't string hits together anymore?
Of note: Will Smith hadn't yet had a hit in the playoffs (0 for 11) and he grabbed five -- a Dodgers playoff record -- in Game 3.
The Padres, of course, wouldn't go quietly, mounting several rallies later. The Dodgers had a few rallies of their own, though, and this one never really felt like a contest after that five-run third and L.A. added four runs in the ninth to really put things out of reach.
The Dodgers move on to face the Braves in the NLCS in Globe Life Field next week. The Padres go home for the winter with an awful lot to look forward to in 2021 and beyond.
Astros out-power A's, advance to fourth straight ALCS
Typically, when you do this ...
The A's have now hit 12 home runs in the Division Series, the most by a team in a series of 5 or fewer games in postseason history.— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 8, 2020
Broke a tie with:
2004 Astros NLDS
1995 Mariners ALDS
1995 Yankees ALDS
Things go your way. However, that wasn't the case for the A's, as the Astros took Game 4 on Thursday and in doing so won the ALDS by a count of 3-1. Yes, the A's had those 12 home runs, but the Astros blunted the effects somewhat by hitting, yes, 12 of their own. So mentally add them to that list above. In Game 4, veteran batsman Michael Brantley did most of the heavy lifting:
And in matters related:
Prior to the Houston outburst, the A's barged to a 3-0 lead thanks to a Ramon Laureano homer off Houston starter Zack Greinke. During the regular season, 13 of the Astros' 29 wins were of the comeback variety, and that was to be the case again on Thursday. A five-run fourth essentially sealed it for Houston, as four Astros relievers combined for a solid enough effort -- two runs (all allowed by Ryan Pressly) in 4 1/3 innings. The series-ending win means the Astros won't get a shot to face sign-stealing whistleblower Mike Fiers, Oakland's likely starter for Game 5, but they'll instead console themselves with a trip to the ALCS.
Speaking of which, this is the Astros' fourth straight trip to the LCS, and that puts them in elite company. They're now just one of five teams to make at least four consecutive League Championship Series, as they join the Braves (1995-99), A's (1971-75), Yankees (1998-2001), and Cardinals (2011-14). As for manager Dusty Baker, he's now one step closer to likely ensuring his spot in the Hall of Fame one day. A World Series ring almost certainly lands Baker in Cooperstown.
Wright, d'Arnaud propel Atlanta to NLCS
Thursday afternoon, the Atlanta Braves clinched a spot in the 2020 National League Championship Series with a Game 3 win over the Miami Marlins (ATL 7, MIA 0). Atlanta has earned its first trip to the NLCS since 2001.
The Braves also became the first team to beat the Marlins in a playoff series. Entering this year's NLDS, Miami owned an undefeated all-time record in postseason series. Miami had won their first seven postseason series: three during their 1997 World Series run, three during their 2003 World Series runs and this year's wild card round. Those are the only three seasons the franchise has made the postseason.
The Braves swept the best-of-five series and await the winner of the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres NLDS. The Braves are 5-0 this postseason after posting a 35-25 record in the abbreviated 2020 regular season. In the best-of-three NL Wild Card Series, the No. 2 seed Braves swept the No. 7 Reds. After dealing with rotation questions all season, the Braves have thrown four shutouts (and held their opponent scoreless in 42 of 45 innings this postseason) in their first five postseason games this year, including shutouts vs. Miami in Games 2 and 3.
The NLCS begins Monday (full schedule here).
Rookie right-hander Kyle Wright made his postseason debut for the Braves and threw an impressive game. Wright, the fourth overall selection in the 2017 MLB Draft, got himself out of a big jam by getting Marlins rookie Jazz Chisolm on a groundout with the bases loaded to end the third inning. Following that at-bat, Wright retired 10 consecutive batters and finished with six scoreless innings of three-hit ball with two walks and seven strikeouts. Of his 88 pitches, 52 were thrown for strikes. He averaged 95.3 mph on his fastball.
Thursday's game was Wright's first appearance since Sept. 25. The 25-year-old returned to the big league club following a midseason demotion to the alternate site. As MLB's Sarah Langs notes, Wright became the 12th pitcher in postseason history to make his postseason debut with a start of 6 or more scoreless innings in a potential clincher. The last pitcher to do it? Wright's teammate, right-hander Ian Anderson. Anderson, 22, pitched six scoreless innings vs. the Reds in Game 2 of the NL Wild Card round.
Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud continued his playoff surge with another solid performance. The 31-year-old veteran knocked in an RBI double in the third inning to score two as part of the Braves' four-run third inning. In the first five games of the postseason, d'Aranud is hitting 8-for-19 with two home runs. The Braves tacked on another run in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth.
On the Marlins side of things, they sent out their rookie right-hander Sixto Sanchez. After a brilliant performance vs. the Cubs in Game 2 of the NL Wild Card round, Sanchez struggled against the potent Braves lineup. The youngster gave up four earned runs in the third inning before he was pulled for Trevor Rogers.