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Looking ahead to Game(s) 163

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This afternoon we are treated to not just one but two bonus baseball games. Games 163 between the Cubs and Brewers in Chicago and the Dodgers and Rockies in Los Angeles.

It’s the eighth and ninth Game 163s since baseball moved to the three-division/wild card format. It’s the first Game 163s that do not involve a win-or-go-home scenario, as all four teams will be in the postseason. All that’s left to decide is which two teams are the Wild Card teams — the losers — and which teams will go on to the NLDS. Seeding and home field advantage is also at issue, of course.

The Cubs won the season series from Milwaukee, 11-8, but the Brewers won seven of the final ten in the series, including four of their final six which allowed them to catch up to the Cubs despite being five games back on Labor Day. Momentum clashes with dominance, however, as Jose Quintana will be on the hill for the Cubs, and he has been fantastic against the Brewers in 2018. Quintana faced Milwaukee six times in 2018, allowing only nine earned runs in 37.1 innings (2.17 ERA) while striking out 33 and walking ten. The Brewers have yet to announce who will get the start for them, but it would not be shocking if they turned it into a bullpen game. UPDATE: Nope, Jhoulys Chacin will start for the Brewers.

In Los Angeles, rookie Walker Buehler will face off against German Marquez. Both these guys had exceptional second halves, with Buehler posting a 2.21 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 89/21 in 73.1 innings over 12 starts. Buehler has faced the Rockies five times in 2018. He’s 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA in those starts. Marquez has been lights-out since the break as well, putting up a 2.55 ERA while striking out 115 dudes and walking only 18 batters in 88.1 innings over 13 starts. Marquez has faced off against the Dodgers three times, winning two of those games, with a 2.57 ERA. Both L.A. and Colorado have who they want on the mound, that’s for sure.

The first contest, between Milwaukee and Chicago, gets underway from Wrigley Field at 1:05 PM today. The second, between the Rockies and the Dodgers, starts at 4:05 PM. Both games will be on ESPN. Buckle up.

Fans allowed at NLCS, World Series in Texas

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Fans can take themselves out to the ball game for the first time this season during the NL Championship Series and World Series at new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Major League Baseball said Wednesday that about 11,500 tickets will be available for each game. That is about 28% of the 40,518-capacity, retractable-roof stadium of the Texas Rangers, which opened this year adjacent to old Globe Life Park, the team’s open-air home from 1994 through 2019.

The World Series is being played at a neutral site for the first time in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be played at one stadium for the first time since the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Browns at Sportsman’s Park in 1944.

Some of the seats will be included in presales for Texas Rangers season ticket holders on Friday and subscribers on Monday, and others are set aside for MLB and players.

Tickets are priced at $40-250 for the NLCS and $75-450 for the World Series, and 10,550 seats in the regular sections of the ballpark and 950 in suites will be sold in “pods” of four contiguous seats.

Each pod will be distanced by at least 6 feet and a checkerboard pattern will be used, with alternating rows of seats in the middle or rows and at the ends. Unsold seats will be tied back.

No seats will be sold in the first six rows within 20 feet of the field, dugouts or bullpen. Fans will not be allowed to the lowest level, which is reserved for MLB’s tier one personnel, such as players and managers.

Masks are mandatory for fans except while they are eating or drinking at their ticketed seats. Concessions and parking will be cashless, and the team’s concessionaire, Delaware North, is planning wrapped items.

The NLCS is scheduled on seven straight days from Oct. 12-18 and the World Series from Oct. 20-28, with traditional off days between Games 2 and 3 and Games 5 and 6, if the Series goes that far. The Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series all will be being played at neutral sites because of the coronavirus .pandemic.

MLB played the entire regular season without fans and also the first round of the playoffs with no fans. For the first time since spring training was interrupted on March 12, club employees and player families were allowed to attend games this week.

While Texas is allowing up to 50% capacity at venues, MLB did not anticipate having government permission for fans to attend postseason games at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles or Petco Park in San Diego, where AL playoff games are scheduled.

Globe Life Field has been the site of more than 50 graduations, but the Rangers played their home games in an empty ballpark.

The Rangers will recommend to MLB that the roof be kept open when possible, executive vice president of business operations Rob Matwick said, but the team understands it will be closed in the event of rain. Matwick said MLB made the decision not to sell seats for the Division Series.

Other than 1944, the only times the World Series was held at one site came in 1921 and 1922, when the New York Giants and Yankees both played home games at the Polo Grounds. Yankee Stadium opened in 1923.