Playoff Reset: The Utley Bowl and three other games

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Like Friday, today we have playoff baseball all dang day long, starting at 1pm Eastern and going on until likely midnight or thereabouts, with all eight remaining playoff teams in action.

And, at least as far as drama goes, the schedule saves the best for last, with the Dodgers-Mets blood feud getting underway at 8:37pm Eastern  the late game. Strap in, folks.

The Game: Kansas City Royals vs. Houston Astros
The Time: 1:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Minute Maid Park
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Yordano Ventura vs. Lance McCullers
The Upshot: The Royals’ backs are up against the wall after yesterday’s loss to Dallas Keuchel and the Astros. McCullers has yet to pitch in the postseason. His last outing was on the season’s last day and he had a bit of a mini-meltdown vs. the Diamondbacks, but overall his rookie campaign was strong (6-7, 3.22 ERA, 129/43 K/BB ratio in 125.2 innings). He’s had particular success at home, going 4-1 with a 1.86 ERA in 10 starts. Yordano Ventura will go on short rest after a rain-abbreviated two-inning, 42-pitch appearance in Game 1. Not that he was terribly effective in those two innings. His task: figure out how to get Colby Rasmus and Chris Carter out. The former is 5-for-10 with six walks, three homers, a double and five driven in this postseason, the latter: 5-for-11 with three walks, somehow, and that big homer yesterday.

 

The Game: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers
The Time: 4:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Globe Life Park, Arlington
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: R.A. Dickey vs. Derek Holland
The Upshot: Toronto staved off elimination last night the way they made it here in the first place: their boomsticks. Specifically Troy Tulowtizki’s, which delivered a three-run homer in the sixth inning. Thing was, it could’ve easily been something of a laugher rather than the close game it was at that point if not for the double plays the Jays kept hitting into. They had their chances to break it open and came out OK despite not doing that but they’d be better served today to take fuller advantage of their opportunities. On the hill: R.A. Dickey who, at age 40, is making his postseason debut. Against the team that drafted him nearly 20 years ago. Time is a flat circle.

 

The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Time: 6:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Wrigley Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Michael Wacha vs. Jake Arrieta
The Upshot: The Cardinals’ mission, should they choose to accept it, is to try to do something against Jake Arrieta, which no one has been able to do in a dog’s age. Last time out all he did was shut out the Pirates while striking out 11. I’m not gonna say it’ll take a no-hitter by Michael Wacha to beat Arrieta but . . . the last time someone beat Arrieta was when Cole Hamels — then a Phillie — tossed a no-hitter against the Cubs back on June 25.

 

The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets
The Time: 8:37 p.m. ET
The Place: Citi Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Brett Anderson vs. Matt Harvey
The Upshot: There Will Be Blood. Or, at the very least, bruises. At least if the Mets decide that going after the Dodgers in retaliation for Chase Utley‘s dirty slide which broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg on Saturday is the highest and best use of Matt Harvey’s heat. At the moment Harvey seems to be signaling that it is, saying “as far as sticking up for your teammates, I think being out there and doing what’s right is exactly what I’m going to do,” which may as well be an advertisement for free plunkings with every at bat. Whether it comes against Chase Utley himself or someone else is an open question at the moment, with Utley having received a two-game suspension last night which he is appealing. Major League Baseball says they will hear the appeal today, so it’s possible that Utley will still be out for this game and for Game 4 in New York.

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.”