Playoff Reset: ALCS continues, NLCS gets underway

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After two quiet off-days in the playoff schedule, the ALCS got underway in Baltimore last night. And it was worth the wait. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait nearly as long for Game 2. Just a few more hours, in fact. Meanwhile, Game 1 of the NLCS will begin later in the evening. Let’s take a look at both matchups.

The Game: Kansas City Royals vs. Baltimore Orioles, American League Championship Series Game 2
The Time: 4:07 PM Eastern
The Place: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Yordano Ventura vs. Bud Norris
The Upshot: After taking a tough extra-inning loss in Game 1, the Orioles will attempt to even things up with Norris on the hill. Orioles manager Buck Showalter had been playing things close to the vest about his choice, but he ultimately opted for Norris over Wei-Yin Chen. And why not? Norris was excellent in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Tigers last Sunday, allowing just two hits and two walks over 6 1/3 scoreless innings. As for the Royals, they’ll go with Yordano Ventura. Coming off a shaky performance out of the bullpen in the Wild Card Game against the A’s, the young fireballer tossed seven innings of one-run ball in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Angels. The Royals have won five straight games to begin the postseason (and eight straight postseason games dating back to 1985). If they can extend that streak tonight, they’ll bring a commanding lead back home to Kansas City.

The Game: San Francisco Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals, National League Championship Series Game 1
The Time: 8:07 PM Eastern
The Place: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
The Channel: FOX
The Starters: Madison Bumgarner vs. Adam Wainwright
The Upshot: Now this is battle of aces. After shutting out the Pirates in the Wild Card Game, Bumgarner took the loss in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Nationals. The southpaw was solid for most of the outing, but a critical throwing error eventually did him in. A bad throw is a bad throw, but Buster Posey later took the blame for telling him to throw to third rather than get the easy out at first. Wainwright is coming off an uncharacteristic performance in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers where he gave up six runs over 4 1/3 innings. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has hinted about Wainwright’s continued elbow issues, but the veteran right-hander says he’s fine. The Cardinals better hope so. The dynamic of this series could change quickly if he’s not right.

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”