Major League Baseball's 2020 playoffs got started Tuesday as the Houston Astros rallied to win Game 1 over the Twins, 4-1, in their American League Wild Card Series. Houston will try to close out the best-of-three series Wednesday, and Minnesota will try to force a Game 3 and snap the franchise's 17-game playoff losing streak.
The Twins won the AL Central with a good final week-plus of play and finished 36-24 for their second straight AL Central title. The Astros, who went an underwhelming 29-31 in the regular season. Due to the format and a second-place finish in the AL West, the Astros got the AL's six seed.
Here's a look at the remaining schedule:
|Date||Start time||Starting pitchers||TV||Odds (via Wiliam Hill Sportsbook)|
Wed., Sept. 30
1 p.m. ET
RHP Jose Berrios vs. TBA
Thurs., Oct. 1
1 p.m. ET
RHP Michael Pineda vs. TBA
* if necessary
And here are three things to know about this series.
The Astros are coming off a terrible month
Houston actually closed August in pretty good shape. They were 19-14 and only 2 1/2 games behind the A's in the West. September, however, was not kind to the Astros. A six-game losing streak early in the month set them behind and they never really recovered. After losing three straight games against the lowly Rangers to conclude the season, the Astros' record in the final month of the regular season was 10-17.
Home-field looks like a huge deal
Look at this split for each team. The Astros went 20-8 at home and 9-23 on the road. The Twins went 24-7 at home and 12-17 on the road. This is as extreme as you'll see anywhere in baseball from both teams. Given that the series is in Minnesota, just looking at these numbers says the Twins should have a huge advantage. It's a short series and those are prone to flukes, but it still looks like a pretty daunting task for the Astros.
Lack of power?
In this day and age, we've grown pretty accustomed to seeing the long ball go a, um, long way in determining who wins playoff games. Target Field is one of the more power-suppressing ballparks in the majors. The Twins do hit home runs, though not to the extreme that they did last season, but with only 69 homers, the Astros ranked close to the bottom third of the league.
Still, in looking at the personnel on both sides, it would be folly to think the series will be void of power. Maybe it'll just come down to the more timely long ones, but these two teams aren't getting through even two games without at least a couple big-time blasts. Keep an eye on Twins center fielder Byron Buxton, who hit 13 homers in 130 at-bats this season.