For the first time in the history of the MLB playoffs, there will be eight postseason games played on a single day, starting with a Cincinnati Reds–Atlanta Braves extra-inning thriller, the Houston Astros sweeping the Minnesota Twins out of the playoffs, the Miami Marlins taking the opener against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, and concluding with a 10 p.m. ET Milwaukee Brewers–Los Angeles Dodgers clash in L.A.
Here are the heroes, turning points and takeaways from each of Wednesday’s matchups.
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Game 2 hero: Carlos Correa. One of the players at the center of the controversy surrounding the Astros this season (does the name Joe Kelly ring a bell?), Correa belted a no-doubt solo home run in the top of the seventh that put Houston up for good.
What it means: What can you say? With another 0-and-out, the Twins’ record postseason losing streak extends to 18 games while the 29-31 Astros advance to the division series. The Twins scored two runs in two games and the lack of offense is par for their postseason history, as that’s now 15 games in a row where they scored four or fewer runs. The key for the Astros was Dusty Baker employing his starting pitching depth in relief. Framber Valdez threw five scoreless innings behind Zack Greinke in Game 1, and then Cristian Javier tossed three hitless innings in relief of Jose Urquidy in Game 2. The Astros were not the offensive team they were during their three straight 100-win seasons, but even without Justin Verlander they have one of the deepest slate of starters in the rotation, with five capable guys. We’ll see how that plays out in the next round when it’s five games in five days and whether Baker can use them in relief or will be forced to go deeper into his pen of rookie relievers. — David Schoenfield
Next up: The Astros will face the winner of the White Sox-Athletics series in the ALDS.
Freddie Freeman loops a single into center field, bringing in the winning run in the 13th inning to give the Braves a 1-0 victory over the Reds.
Game 1 hero: Can you be the hero with a no-decision next to your name in the box score? Trevor Bauer sparkled for 7 2/3 scoreless innings — striking out 12 and walking none — but it wasn’t until the 13th inning that Freddie Freeman gave the Braves the 1-0 victory.
What it means: Never before had a playoff game gone scoreless past the 11th inning until this festival of strikeouts concluded in the 13th when Freeman did what the NL MVP favorite should do: walk off a postseason game. The blown opportunities and baserunning blunders and wasting of Bauer’s brilliance will chafe at the Reds, though they don’t have time to lament. Game 2 is nigh, and with star rookie Ian Anderson set to go for Atlanta, the Reds can’t afford to replicate their punchlessness from Game 1. Of course, they struck out only 16 times compared to the Braves’ 21, and yet Cincinnati’s came at the worst times possible: three straight in the 12th. –– Jeff Passan
Next up: Game 2, Thursday at noon ET on ESPN
What it means: Hendricks had issues all afternoon, so manager David Ross will be second-guessed for not pulling him while his best reliever, Jeremy Jeffress, was ready in the pen. As is, Ross eventually brought Jeffress in, but in a losing situation. It was a waste of an outing when he might be needed on Thursday. The Cubs offense picked up where it left off in the regular season, garnering just four hits in a stadium in which they produced the lowest batting average by the home team in history. Now Yu Darvish pitches to keep the Cubs’ season going. Last time he did that for a team, he lost Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. — Jesse Rogers
Next up: Game 2, Thursday at 2 p.m. ET on ABC
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