When I was a kid the start of the baseball playoffs were something I looked forward to all year, whether or not one of my favorite teams were involved. There were only 2 series going on at a time (one in each league) but some of the games were during the afternoon which was amazing since I could see the whole game AND it was something exciting on as soon as I got home from school.
On September 30, 2020, 8 playoff games were played, the first one starting at Noon Eastern, and the last one with a first pitch scheduled for 10:00 PM. The 10-year-old me would not have been able to process this largesse. He also wouldn’t have known what the word largesse means.
Anyway, with a hat tip to the Sports Guy, who used to write columns like this in the late 90’s for ESPN Page 2, here’s what transpired…
12:00 PM – Game 1 – Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves
The Braves are a slight favorite since they have a better record and overall a better team (those two things aren’t entirely unrelated after all), but the most important guy in any baseball game is the starting pitcher (even in this age of incredible relief pitching), and the Reds have Cy Young candidate Trevor Bauer on the hill, so this seems like a toss-up.
Atlanta’s starter, Max Fried, leads NL starting pitchers in allowing the softest contact off the bat. Seems like a good thing to lead the league in. He gave up back to back singles to start the first but got out of it without any runs scoring, and in the 2nd inning, he induced 3 straight soft ground balls. Yep, soft contact is definitely a pitcher’s friend.
1:00 PM – Game 2 – Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins
All of baseball (outside of Houston) is rooting against the Astros due to their cheating scandal, but holy cow, the Twins as a franchise have lost 17 straight playoff games. The 10 year old me, if a Twins fan, would not have been able to endure such ignominy. He, again, also would not have known what the word ignominy means.
1:01 PM – (Reds/Braves)
Trevor Bauer looks great and just struck out super-stud Ronald Acuna, Jr. If you don’t enjoy watching that matchup, may I introduce you to, say, basketball maybe?
1:35 PM – (Reds/Braves)
No score through 5 innings. The two starters have combined to throw only 118 pitches. If it were Yankees/red Sox circa 2004, they would have hit that mark after 2 innings.
2:00 PM – Game 1 – Miami Marlins at Chicago Cubs
The 50 year old me (otherwise known as….me) is having a hard time processing that the Marlins were 57-105 last year and are somehow in the playoffs. The Cubs were supposed to be a dynasty after they finally won in 2016, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way.
I did not expect the Marlins/Cubs game to start before the first run of the day was scored. But so far it’s nothing but goose eggs all over.
2:12 PM – (Astros/Twins)
The Russian’s been cut! Houston takes a COMMANDING 1-0 lead on a 2-out single by Kyle Tucker. Minnesota looks like it has what it takes to lose 18 straight.
15 innings in 3 games so far, and 1 run has been scored. So this is what the Dead Ball Era was like.
3:00 PM – Game 2 – Chicago White Sox at Oakland A’s
Ah, the post season, where Billy Beane’s brilliance seems to disappear every year. Is this the year that Moneyball leads the A’s to their first World Series title since 1989? Or will one of baseball’s most exciting young teams (if you aren’t a big baseball fan, you may not have heard of Tim Anderson, Luis Robert and Lucas Giolito, but you will) take the next step towards maturing into a baseball power? The Sox won Game 1 by a score of 4-1, so Oakland needs to win to stay alive.
3:12 PM – (Astros/Twins)
A Nelson Cruz double ties the score at 1-1. 21 innings, 4 games, 8 teams. 2 runs scored so far.
3:19 PM – (Reds/Braves)
No score, going to the 11th. Wow.
3:31 PM – (Astros/Twins)
Carlos Correa, long considered one of the potentially great players in the league (but often injured) hits a homer to give Houston a 2-1 lead in the 7th. If I’m a Twins fan, am I even watching this, after 17 straight playoff losses? If I was, do I turn it off now? I’m very glad I don’t have to answer these questions.
3:34 PM – (White Sox/A’s)
Oakland scores 2 in the first, proving it’s not like against the law or anything to score within the first hour of a baseball game. So that’s cool. Of course, it was on a 2-run error, so it’s not like their offense went bananas or anything.
3:35 PM – (Reds/Braves)
2 outs in the 11th, bases loaded for the Reds’ Mike Moustakas, one of the few recognizable names in the Reds lineup (thanks to the KC Royals’ run last decade, of which he was a relevant part). The Braves of course bring in a lefty to face him (he’s a lefty), and he quickly strikes out to end the threat.
3:46 PM – (Marlins/Cubs)
Ian Happ hits a dinger to go up 1-0 after 5 innings. 26 innings so far, 5 games, 10 teams. 6 runs total. This is officially insane. Pretty soon Commissioner Rob Manfred is going to be looking into bringing steroids back.
3:52 PM – (Reds/Braves)
Cincinnati has 1st and 3rd with nobody out. This is it, people. I can feel it. ESPN places their win percentage right now at 77.1%.
3:58 PM – (Reds/Braves)
3 quick strikeouts and I’m feeling it less. Still 0-0. Maybe we should have kept that new rule in about starting an inning with a guy on 2nd for the playoffs.
3:59 PM – (White Sox/A’s)
Last year’s breakout star, Marcus Semien, hits a 2-run shot and it’s 4-0 A’s. Mercy rule, anyone?
4:00 PM – Game 2 – Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are probably the best team in the American League and the average sports fan probably couldn’t pick any of their players out of a lineup. Toronto is probably just happy to be there, so this should be a quick series. The Rays won the first game 4-1, so the actors are following the script so far.
4:16 PM – (Marlins/Cubs)
3 run dinger by Corey Dickerson and the Cinderella Marlins take a 3-1 lead.
4:23 PM – (Reds/Braves)
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. Cincinnati has 1st and 3rd with one out this time. Can the Braves continue to dance between the raindrops?
4:35 PM – (Reds/Braves)
Well obviously they didn’t score.
4:41 PM – (Astros/Twins)
We have our first casualty of the 2020 playoffs, as the Astros finish off the Twins in 2 games, the final was 3-1. I feel bad for Twins fans right now. Plus, winter is like days away for them.
Some bigger leads developing, with Miami up 5-1, the A’s up 5-0 and the Rays up 3-0. So, all eyes are on the Never Ending Story in Atlanta. 1st and 3rd and 1 out for the Braves, who seemingly have their first real scoring opportunity since Chipper Jones retired.
4:47 PM – (Reds/Braves)
YES!!! Possible MVP Freddie Freeman hits a single up the middle and that’s it, folks. 1-0 win for Atlanta. The dozen or so real pro sports fans in that city must be stoked.
5:00 PM – Game 1 – St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego Padres
The Padres are the most exciting young team in the National League, and looked like a real title contender a few weeks ago, before their new superstar Fernando Tatis, Jr. started slumping. That said, if he goes 3 for 4 with 2 HR’s today, suddenly the Hype Train will be chugging down the tracks again. The Cardinals start Kwang-Hyun Kim on the mound today. I wasn’t aware that a major league baseball team could have a Game 1 playoff starter I’ve never heard of. Interesting.
Stepped away for a little while and quite a bit has happened. The Cardinals went nuts and scored 4 in the 1st, and the Rays are up 8-1. That game isn’t likely to get a lot of airtime in my office. The A’s are still blanking the Sox 5-0.
5:55 PM – (Cardinals/Padres)
San Diego squeezes out a run in each of the first 2 innings and it’s a more manageable 4-2 score. If they were to come back and win this game after giving up 4 in the 1st that would be a HUGE boost for such a young team. You start getting those Team of Destiny vibes going…
6:04 PM – (Cardinals/Padres)
Of course, going down 6-2 in the 3rd is nice too… By the way, it turns out Kwang-Hyun Kim is a 32 year old rookie from South Korea, and he was outstanding this season, with a 1.62 ERA in 7 starts. So there.
6:09 PM – (Sox/A’s)
The Pale Hose are getting frisky in the 9th, as its 5-2 with the bases loaded and 2 outs. White knuckle time in Oakland.
6:15 PM – (Sox/A’s)
A 5 pitch walk to make it 5-3 and now it’s REALLY white knuckle time.
6:16 PM – (Sox/A’s)
A rocket off the bat….right at the 2nd basemen and Oakland can exhale again. A’s win 5-3 and extend the series to a decisive Game 3.
6:28 PM (Marlins/Cubs)
Miami announces it’s playoff presence with authority, beating the Cubs at Wrigley field 5-1. Apparently Chicago had their worst season hitting at home EVER (in terms of batting average at least), which is astounding when you consider (A) how many truly bad Cubs teams there have been and (B) this team won its division.
7:00 PM – Game 2 – NY Yankees at Cleveland Indians
The Yanks famously struggled for much of the shortened regular season, but they showed how dangerous they are in Game 1, hitting 4 homers and blowing out the Indians despite facing the AL’s best starter in 2020, Shane Bieber. If the Yanks get rolling, watch out. Cleveland has lost 9 straight elimination games, so that’s terrible.
7:31 PM – (Blue Jays/Rays)
And The Jays are heading back to Canada for a long, cold winter. The Rays quietly move on to the ALDS with an 8-2 win. Meanwhile there’s weather in Cleveland (like THAT ever happens) so the Yanks and Indians are in a rain delay.
7:41 PM – (Cardinals/Padres)
San Diego is hanging around, down 6-4 (and what better place to hang around than Southern California), which would make me nervous if I were a Cardinals fan. By the way, I have seen more cardboard cut-outs today than I ever thought possible. Huge strikeout of Tatis to end a big threat in the 6th. First chance to make a colossal impact in his young career, and he comes up short. Lucky for him he will likely have MANY more. The kid is a can’t miss star.
8:03 PM – (Indians/Yankees)
Game finally starts in rainy/foggy Cleveland, and the Yanks go quietly in the 1st.
8:12 PM – (Indians/Yankees)
Jose Ramirez knocks in a run to take a 1-0 lead. And then the rains come, so it’s another delay. Something tells me I’m reading about the end of this game when I wake up tomorrow.
8:30 PM – (Cardinals/Padres)
Lead-off man gets drilled in the back by the once unhittable Andrew Miller – tough way to get on base but the tying run is at the plate in the 8th.
8:32 PM – (Cardinals/Padres)
A one-out single, it’s 1st and 3rd and feels like this is the game right here.
8:34 PM – (Cardinals/Padres)
Miller gets a guy to swing at a ball that legitimately could have hit him (that’s what happens when you’re a left-handed hitter facing a 6’10” lefty pitcher) and he grounds out to first. 2 outs, 2nd and 3rd. Tatis coming up!
8:39 PM – (Cardinals/Padres)
Groundout to end the threat. Feels like the ballgame.
8:53 PM – (Cardinals/Padres)
Cards tack on another and it’s a 3 run lead going to the bottom of the 9th.
8:53 PM – (Yankees/Indians)
Meanwhile this game has started again and the Indians added 3 more to make it 4-0. Long way to go but still…
8:58 PM (Yankees/Indians)
Giancarlo Stanton homers to make it 4-1. Yeah, this game is FAR from over.
9:01 PM – (Cardinals/Padres)
St. Louis closes it out to win Game 1, 7-4. The Cardinals are probably the most successful franchise in NL history (only the Dodgers can compete) and the Padres have been in, and lost, two World Series ever. Score one tonight for the old guard.
10:00 PM – Game 1 – Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are baseball’s best team and in theory they should win 2 easy games from the mediocre Brewers (who had a losing record this season) and move on to more important matters…but this is baseball so who knows. There’s no way I’m staying up for this game. I’ll find out what happens with the Yanks and Dodgers tomorrow.
What a day of baseball! I need a drink.
Commercial Real Estate Broker/Sports Fan
Staff writer at Six Feet Apart, commercial real estate broker for CBRE, Inc., and most importantly, a father of two.