Playoff Reset: The NL takes center stage today

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After we saw some thrilling action yesterday with all four playoff series, the National League takes center stage today. The Cardinals and Giants are aiming to head home with 2-0 series leads. Meanwhile, the Dodgers and Nationals will be looking to rebound after tough Game 1 losses.

As for the teams in the ALDS, they are traveling today and will resume Sunday. The Tigers and Angels are both on the brink of elimination while the Orioles and Royals are one win away from a trip to the ALCS.

The Game: San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals, National League Division Series Game 2
The Time: 5:37 PM Eastern
The Place: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
The Channel: Fox Sports 1
The Starters: Tim Hudson vs. Jordan Zimmermann
The Upshot: The Nationals came into Game 1 as the trendy favorite to win the World Series, but they are now NLDS underdogs. Statistically speaking, at least. Having Jordan Zimmermann on the mound should ease the impulse to panic, though. He had a 2.66 ERA during the regular season and oh yeah, he threw the first no-hitter in team history in his most recent start last Sunday. As for Hudson, he didn’t exactly finish the season on a high note, posting an 8.72 ERA over five starts in September. It’s funny to think about it this way, but the Giants have won an NL-record nine straight postseason games dating back to 2012. If they can push it to 10 today, the Nationals are in some serious trouble.

The Game: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, National League Division Series Game 2
The Time: 9:37 PM Eastern
The Place: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
The Channel: MLB Network
The Starters: Lance Lynn vs. Zack Greinke
The Upshot: After the Cardinals staged a stunning comeback against Clayton Kershaw yesterday, the pressure is really on the Dodgers now. It helps to have another ace up your sleeve and Zack Greinke is exactly that. He has a 2.68 ERA in 60 regular season starts since joining the Dodgers and pitched well during the team’s playoff run last season. Lance Lynn is no slouch either and continues to be overlooked despite putting up some impressive numbers. He posted a career-best 2.74 ERA over 33 starts during the regular season. The phrase “must win” gets thrown around a lot in sports and often incorrectly, so I don’t want to go that far, but it’s very important for the Dodgers win this game and draw even in the series. It would be bad enough to be down 2-0 headed back to St. Louis, but Hyun-Jin Ryu is lined up to start Game 3. He hasn’t pitched in a game since September 12.

Cardinals beat Brewers, both clinch postseason berths

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. LOUIS — Harrison Bader tripled and homered to help the St. Louis Cardinals clinch a postseason berth on the final day of the regular season with a 5-2 win over Milwaukee, and the Brewers also earned a playoff spot Sunday via help on the West Coast moments later.

St. Louis (30-28) will be the fifth seed in the NL and open a three-game wild-card series at San Diego on Wednesday. By winning, the Cardinals avoided having to travel to Detroit for two makeup games Monday. St. Louis finished the regular season with 23 games in 18 days as it made up a slew of postponements caused by a coronavirus outbreak in the clubhouse.

“You had to throw some of the expectations out the window not knowing what to expect after taking those couple weeks off and all those doubleheaders and so many new guys,” Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. “It was very different, very fulfilling to make the playoffs.”

The Brewers (29-31) locked up the eighth seed and a third consecutive postseason berth after the Padres beat San Francisco 5-4 in a game that ended about 15 minutes after St. Louis’ victory. The Giants finished with an identical record as the Brewers but lost out on a tiebreaker due to an inferior intradivision record.

“It’s fitting for 2020 and everything we went through,” Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich said. “It felt just as good as past years. This year’s a unique one. There’s so many challenges we had to go through on a daily basis behind the scenes, things you don’t deal with in a normal year.”

Milwaukee will face the top-seeded Dodgers in Los Angeles in a three-game series that also starts Wednesday.

The Brewers haven’t had a winning record at any point this season. Milwaukee and Houston will be the first teams ever to qualify for the playoffs with a losing mark.

“It’s a celebration,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re in the playoffs. That’s how you see it. There’s no reason to apologize for getting into the playoffs.”

Cardinals starter Austin Gomber allowed one run, one hit and two walks and struck out three over four innings.

Giovanny Gallegos (2-0), Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes combined to pitch the final five innings. Reyes got his first save.

“We’d have been happy getting in as the eight seed,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We’d have been happy being the one seed, but people can say we got in if there was no expanded playoffs so that’s even another feather in this group’s cap.”

Brett Anderson (4-4) surrendered a triple to Bader and a walk to Tyler O'Neill to start the third inning before departing with a blister on his left index finger. Anderson opened the season on the injured list with a blister on the same finger and did not make his debut until Aug. 3.

Freddy Peralta replaced him a day after being activated from the paternity list, and O’Neill promptly stole second. Kolten Wong then hit a line drive off Peralta’s leg that Peralta threw into right field to score Bader and O’Neill.

Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong each added RBI singles to push the St. Louis lead to 4-0.

After Milwaukee scored in the top of the fifth, Bader hit his fifth home run of the season.

“That was a big counterpunch,” Shildt said of Bader. “Got them on their heels again.”

THREE TIMES THE FUN

Yadier Molina grounded into a triple play in the eighth inning when he hit a one hop grounder to Jace Peterson at third base in the eighth inning. It was Milwaukee’s first triple play since Sept. 23, 2016, when Cincinnati’s Joey Votto lined out to first base. Molina was also the last Cardinals player to hit into a triple play when he grounded out to third base at Boston on Aug. 15, 2017.

TRAINING ROOM

Brewers: Counsell said it was too early to prognosticate Anderson’s status after departing with the blister.

Cardinals: St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced that RHP Dakota Hudson will have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Monday. Hudson went 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA in eight starts before leaving his start on Sept. 17 at Pittsburgh with right elbow discomfort after two innings.

UP NEXT

Brewers: The Brewers head to Los Angeles and will likely be without two of their top starters in Anderson and Corbin Burnes, who sustained a left oblique injury on Thursday.

Cardinals: This will be the fourth postseason series between St. Louis and San Diego, who faced each other in 1996, 2005, and 2006 in the Division Series.