Below are Thursday’s results and the main takeaways from the day.
Wild Card Series schedule / scores
Kershaw sets personal best, Dodgers move on
The Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to the National League Divisional Series on Thursday after sweeping the Milwaukee Brewers in the top three wild card round.
The Dodgers were punctuated by southpaw Clayton Kershaw, as they have been countless times throughout his Big League career. He delivered a vintage performance: tying his career playoff record with eight innings pitched and setting a personal best with 13 strikeouts. Kershaw’s slider played a key role in his night, as the Brewers breathed in 20 of the 32 moves they made against the field.
Kershaw’s opposite, Brandon Woodruff, also put together the ingredients for a great start. Things went off the rails for Woodruff in the fifth inning as he allowed three runs to score. Receiver Austin Barnes took the first strike to make it 1-0. Mookie Betts then doubled in pairs to give the Dodgers an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
The No.1 Dodgers will face the winner of the San Diego Padres-St. Louis Cardinals Series, which ends Friday. Conversely, the No.8 Seed Brewers are going to hit the drawing board and hope to come up with a plan to install a better offense before next season.
The brave advance at last; Reds aimless again
First of all, yes, we need to give credit to the Braves pitchers. In a two-game series against the Reds, all of the Braves pitching staff dominated. Sure, the Reds got 11 hits in Game 1, but it was 10 singles and a double. They also scored zero times in 13 innings while hitting 16 times. Max Fried and the Relief Corps are to be saluted. In Game 2, we have to credit rookie Ian Anderson with being nailed in his playoff debut, striking out nine in his six scoreless innings. He allowed just two hits, both singles.
Let’s also credit Marcell Ozuna for his two-point shot in the eighth to give the Braves some breathing space…
… And then Adam Duvall for putting it out of reach.
There we got all the credit for the Braves in their sweep.
Now on to the reds. The 22 scoreless innings in the playoffs is a Major League record to start a playoff. The Reds’ offense was 8 for 73 (.110) in the two-game series. Their five steps and a slap beater lead them to a base percentage of .177. The slugging was .181. This is only a sample of two games, obviously, and if these were just the first two games of the regular season, we could just call it a slow start. Instead, the Reds have won 11 of their last 14 games and got stellar throws for 20 innings before the eighth low on Thursday. And they’re coming home for the winter after being swept away in two games.
Returning to the end of the Braves, however, let’s conclude on a positive note. The Braves have finally advanced to a playoff round. They haven’t done it since 2001. Since then, there had been eight losses in NLDS (four of them in five games) as well as one loss in a wild card game.
A’s instant elimination game slippage
The Oakland Athletics rallied in Wednesday’s winning or 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 broke their MLB record streak of nine straight losses in the winner’s take-home games. It was the A’s first win since the elimination game since the seventh game of the 1973 World Series.
It’s also the first time Oakland has passed the first round of the playoffs since 2006. The No. 2 A seed will face divisional 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 took a 3-0 lead in the third, the A’s responded with four runs in the fourth inning. Chicago tied the game in the fifth inning, but Chad Pinder had the two-run single with two strikeouts in the fifth. Pinder’s RBI single was the first playoff score hit by an A hitter with runners in goal position since the 2014 AL Wild Card game.
For more information on this game, you can read our full breakdown here.
Padres offense comes to life
It looked like the Padres, who had the NL’s second-best record and one of baseball’s best offenses in 60 regular-season games, were heading for a silent exit in their Wild Card Series game against the Cardinals. Next, Fernando Tatis Jr. had a three-run homerun in the sixth inning on Thursday. Tatis’ homer was San Diego’s first of five in three innings. Tatis and Wil Myers both hit two home runs to make history en route to an 11-9 victory. Learn more about this game here.
Marlins-Cubs postponed due to weather
Marlins-Cubs Best of Three Series Game 2 has been postponed until Friday. Full story here.