During MLB’s busy wild-card series, we’ll keep you updated right here on results, must-see moments and what’s next in each matchup.
What happened? The Minnesota Twins’ postseason misery continues. After losing 3-1 to the Houston Astros in Game 2 of the AL wild-card series, the Twins season has ended and their record postseason losing streak has been extended to 18 games.
Houston’s Carlos Correa delivered the decisive blow in Game 2, smashing a go-ahead solo home run in the seventh inning. It was the first home run in the series featuring two of MLB’s top five homer-hitting teams over the last two seasons.
Minnesota’s offense could only muster one run against Astros starter Jose Urquidy and three relievers. The Twins scored just two runs total in what may go down as their most disappointing postseason exit in a series of heart-wrenching outcomes.
What’s next? For the fifth time in six seasons, the Astros have advanced to the ALDS. It’s a little different this time, of course. Rather than traveling to Chicago or Oakland for an ALDS matchup with the White Sox or A’s, they will advance to MLB’s postseason neutral site. That means a trip to Southern California for them.
Another noted difference: Houston will be the first team in MLB history to advance to the LDS with a losing regular season record. Of all teams to pull that off, and of all seasons for it to happen, this is what baseball has given us. We can’t imagine baseball fans will in any way be thrilled considering everything that’s happened with the Astros sign-stealing scandal. But sometimes baseball is going to baseball.
You see this? Twins outfielder Alex Kirilloff made history Wednesday, becoming the first player ever to make his MLB debut in a postseason game. Fittingly, he was the first Twins player to get a hit in Game 2 when he delivered a fourth-inning single.
Game 2: Oakland A’s 5, Chicago White Sox 3
What happened? The Oakland A’s aren’t going quietly. After dropping Game 1 of their series with the Chicago White Sox, the A’s came out swinging in Game 2.
They won 5-3 after a dramatic ninth-inning — knotting the series 1-1 and sending this AL wild-card series into a winner-take-all Game 3 on Thursday.
Facing former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, the A’s scored four runs in the first two innings and added another in the fourth. Marcus Semien delivered a two-run homer in the second inning and Khris Davis hit a solo dinger in the fourth.
It was the opposite of Game 1, where Sox ace Lucas Giolito took a no-hitter into the seventh and dominated Oakland. It was the White Sox offense that struck often in Game 1, but they were quieted Wednesday by A’s starter Chris Bassitt, who scattered six hits across seven innings and allowed only one run.
The White Sox made things interesting in the eighth when Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer off A’s closer Liam Hendriks. Hendriks had a rough eighth and almost looked ready to shut the door in the ninth, but with two outs the White Sox loaded the bases against Hendricks and the A’s turned to Jake Diekman to save the day.
Next it was Grandal again, who had also homered in Game 1. He worked a walk to make the score 5-3 and bring Jose Abreu to the plate with the bases still loaded. The drama was high, but Abreu grounded out to second base and the A’s bullpen escaped.
What’s next? Winner-take-all Game 3 doesn’t have the same ring as winner-take-all Game 7, but they have the same effect. On Thursday, the White Sox and A’s will meet again to determine which team advances to the postseason neutral site to face either the Astros or Twins, and which team’s outstanding season ends with immediate disappointment.
The Game 3 pitching matchup has not yet been determined. The game will air on ESPN with a 3:10 p.m. ET scheduled first pitch.
Game 1: Miami Marlins 5, Chicago Cubs 1
What happened? The Miami Marlins have taken Game 1 of the NL wild-card series, defeating the Chicago Cubs, 5-1, at Wrigley Field.
In a postseason that’s been dominated by pitching duels, this was shaping up as another classic until the Marlins’ bats erupted in the seventh inning. Corey Dickerson slugged a three-run home run against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks to get Miami on the board. Two batters later, Jesus Aguilar provided some insurance by ripping a two-run homer to right.
Until that point, Miami starter Sandy Alcantara did an excellent job keeping his team in the game. The 25-year-old right-hander limited Chicago to one run on three hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out four, walked three and forced seven ground-ball outs.
Dating back to the infamous 2003 NLCS, the Marlins have now won four straight postseason games against the Cubs. The last three have come in Chicago.
What’s next? The NL Central champion Cubs are already on the brink of elimination. They will fight to stay alive on Thursday afternoon in Game 2, which is scheduled to begin at 2:08 p.m. ET and will air again on ABC.
Chicago has the right guy on the hill to extend the series. Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish (8-3, 2.01 ERA) will finally make his postseason debut for the Cubs after missing most of the 2018 season. Miami will counter with impressive rookie Sixto Sanchez (3-2, 3.46 ERA).
The Marlins are also awaiting word on outfielder Starling Marte. He was forced to leave Game 1 in the ninth inning after being hit on the hand by a pitch.
You see this? Corey Dickerson’s first career postseason home run was an absolute missile, measured at 105.4 MPH off the bat.
Game 1: Atlanta Braves 1, Cincinnati Reds 0
What happened? It was a pitcher’s duel between the Reds and Braves — until it became a historic match of zeroes. After 12 scoreless innings, the Braves finally scored in the 13th when Freddie Freeman walked it off and gave Atlanta a 1-0 win and a matching series lead.
In a matchup where the pitchers had been a top storyline, Trevor Bauer was as good as advertised and Max Fried gave the much-maligned Braves staff everything it could have hoped for in Game 1.
As the game got through 11 innings at 0-0, it made history as the longest scoreless playoff game ever. Neither team scored in the 12th either. In the 13th, the Reds blew a chance with the bases loaded and one out. The Braves then started the bottom of the 13th with two singles and a fielder’s choice, setting up Freeman’s walk-off single.
Early on, pitching was the story. Fried threw six shutout innings, striking out five, while Bauer was magnificent through 7 2/3 innings. He struck out 12 and allowed only two hits. It was the kind of postseason pitching duel we haven’t seen since 2016:
Trevor Bauer and Max Fried are the first opposing postseason starters to both pitch 7+ scoreless innings since Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard in the 2016 NL Wild Card Game
What’s next? With the Braves taking a 1-0 lead in the series, the two teams will meet again Thursday in Atlanta — with the Reds looking to even it up and Braves looking to move on to the next round.
The Reds have to think the pitching matchup leans in their favor. They’ll send Luis Castillo (4-6, 3.21 ERA) to the mound while the Braves counter with Ian Anderson (3-2, 1.95). Anderson, 22, has been impressive since getting called up in August, but this will be just his seventh career start. Bullpens could play a factor too, as the Braves used seven relievers in Game 1.
First pitch is at 12:08 p.m. ET with TV coverage on ESPN.
You see this? Show the kids this great execution from the Braves on cutting down a runner at third base.