Braves, A's, Dodgers advance; 2 games today

October 2nd, 2020

Slam Diego was reborn, and so were the Padres, who got two homers a piece from Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers in an 11-9 victory over the Cardinals in Game 2 of their National League Wild Card Series. So the Padres and Cardinals will settle things in a deciding Game 3 today at Petco Park.

Meanwhile, the Cubs and Marlins will play today’s other game. Their scheduled Game 2 was postponed by rain on Thursday with the Marlins leading the best-of-three series 1-0. If the Cubs force a Game 3, it’ll be at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

Elsewhere, the Dodgers, Braves and A’s all advanced to next week’s Division Series. Here’s a rundown of Thursday’s games:

Result: Padres won Game 2, 11-9
Next game: Game 3 will be tonight at 7 ET at Petco Park (ESPN)

This is what great players do. This is why they are great. Because they change games. Because they change series. The Padres were slumbering along, trailing 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning when Tatis sent a jolt into their dugout with a three-run home run. Thus began a tidal wave. Manny Machado followed Tatis with a homer of his own. The Padres hit five in all, all in the sixth inning or later, as part of a 15-hit offensive night that forced a deciding game.

The Marlins will attempt to keep their magic going by starting 22-year-old right-hander Sixto Sanchez, who made his Major League debut on Aug. 22 and was dominant for five starts (1.69 ERA) before struggling in his final two. Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish just finished his best regular season and will be trying to turn around a postseason resume in which he has a 5.81 ERA in six starts.

Result: Dodgers won Game 2, 3-0, to sweep the series
Next game: Dodgers will play Cardinals or Padres in NLDS beginning Tuesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington

If there was a narrative to this series, it was that all the pressure was on the Dodgers, the team with baseball’s best record and highest expectations. Step one completed. The Dodgers methodically did what they were expected to do in finishing a two-game sweep of the Brewers, as Clayton Kershaw pitched eight shutout innings with 13 strikeouts, and Mookie Betts broke it open with a two-run double in the bottom of the fifth inning of Game 2. The Dodgers got only six hits in Game 2, but never trailed in the series.

Max Fried and Ian Anderson, who had zero postseason starts between them, combined to throw 13 shutout innings in Games 1 and 2. Thus was answered the only question about a Braves team that has a dominant lineup and bullpen: How would their kid starters handle the big moment? The Reds and Braves were not separated by more than a run for the first 20 innings of this series, right up until Atlanta got two-run homers from Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall in the eighth inning of Game 2 to win its first postseason series in 19 years.

The A’s are advancing in the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Never mind that they are one of the smartest and most efficiently operated franchises in the history of the sport. What the A’s needed was some October validation, and that’s what they got on Thursday. Rookie catcher Sean Murphy got them going with a two-run homer in the fourth inning, and Chad Pinder’s two-run single in the fifth gave them the lead for good as they rallied from an early 3-0 deficit. Oakland hitters drew nine walks (Moneyball lives!). Finally, manager Bob Melvin smartly mixed and matched his relievers for the final 22 outs. In three games, Oakland got 15 of 27 innings from its bullpen.