Gerrit Cole
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2018 Division Series will be one to remember

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It’s only the fourth day of Division Series play, but the eight remaining contenders are already closing in on a number of franchise and MLB playoff records. Here are just a few of the ways the Astros, Indians, Braves, and Yankees are setting themselves apart this postseason:

The starting pitchers in the first two games of a postseason series each racked up 200+ strikeouts during the regular season — a first in MLB history.

In Game 1 of the ALDS, Astros ace Justin Verlander (290 strikeouts) went up against the Indians’ Corey Kluber (222 strikeouts), while Game 2 featured a matchup between Gerrit Cole (276 strikeouts) and Carlos Carrasco (231 strikeouts). Both times, the Astros’ strikeout leaders came away looking far more dominant: Verlander whiffed seven batters across 5 1/3 innings in Game 1, while Kluber made his exit in the fifth with just two strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. During Game 2, Cole recorded his first postseason win for Houston while tossing seven innings of one-run, 12-strikeout ball — just a smidgen better than Carrasco’s two-run, three-strikeout performance through the first 5 1/3 innings of the Indians’ eventual loss.

José Altuve and Alex Bregman tied Carlos Beltrán for most postseason home runs in franchise history.

Both Altuve and Bregman have the chance to pull ahead as the franchise leader in postseason home runs: Thanks to Altuve’s fifth-inning solo home run off Kluber in Game 1 of the ALDS and Bregman’s 396-foot blast off Trevor Bauer in Game 2, they’ve each logged eight home runs in their postseason careers, the same as longtime slugger Carlos Beltrán accumulated during his first career postseason run. Beltrán set the record back in 2004, when he decorated his NLCS campaign with a solo shot off of the Cardinals’ Julian Tavarez.

The Braves were defeated in back-to-back postseason shutouts for the first time in franchise history.

Not only is this an unfortunate first for the Braves — it’s also just the second time it’s happened in MLB history. The Braves will enter Game 3 of the NLDS on Sunday night with just nine hits (and zero runs) to their name after getting blanked by the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu in Games 1 and 2, respectively

No other playoff team has been shut out in the first two games of a playoff series since 1921, when the Giants opened the 1921 World Series with an 0-2 record against the Yankees. While the Giants eventually staged a massive five-game comeback to take the Series, it’s not certain that the Braves will be able to muster the same kind of strength to overpower the Dodgers for the next three games and advance to the NLCS — let alone the Fall Classic.

Gerrit Cole recorded the second-most strikeouts in an ALDS game.

Not only did Cole take the edge over Carrasco during Game 2 of the ALDS on Saturday; he nearly tied the all-time record for most strikeouts in an ALDS game to date, too. The current record is held by Hall of Fame southpaw Randy Johnson, who delivered 13 strikeouts for the Mariners in the 1997 ALDS. Cole came just one strikeout shy of that mark after he was pulled in the eighth inning of Saturday’s game, making his exit from the mound with three hits, one run, zero walks, and 12 strikeouts over seven innings. He also placed second to Hall of Fame hurler Tom Seaver, who was the first to strike out at least 12 batters with zero walks during a postseason performance.

Gary Sanchez crushed the longest Division Series home run in the Statcast era.

The Yankees held their own hit parade during Game 2 of the ALDS on Saturday night, led by Aaron Judge‘s 445-foot homer off of Red Sox southpaw David Price in the first inning. Sanchez tacked on two more home runs to become the first Yankees’ catcher since Yogi Berra to record a multi-home run performance in the postseason (Berra earned his stripes during Game 7 of the 1956 World Series).

His second long ball of the evening registered 479 feet — longer than any home run Statcast has tracked in the Division Series since 2015. The current record-holder for longest postseason home run still belongs to the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, however, who clubbed a 491-footer off of Dodgers lefty Alex Wood in the 2017 NLCS.

Entering Sunday and Monday’s games, three of the eight playoff teams are poised for a Division Series sweep. While the Rockies, Braves, and Indians don’t exactly have history on their side, they wouldn’t be the first to claw their way back from an 0-2 deficit. Eight teams have worked their way back from an 0-2 start to the Division Series: the 1981 Dodgers, 1995 Mariners, 1999 and 2003 Red Sox, 2001 and 2017 Yankees, 2012 Giants, and 2015 Blue Jays. Perhaps less encouraging: Only the Dodgers and Giants pushed through their initial disadvantage to lay claim to a World Series.

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.”