Well, we’re off and running. The MLB playoffs got off to a wild start Tuesday in Washington, with more fun on the way with the American League wild-card game Wednesday in Oakland.
What’s on tap
The most important thing of the day: Who gets to face the Astros? The Rays and A’s are two of the most fascinating stories in baseball this year, but the reward for whichever small-market success story survives Wednesday night is a daunting ALDS matchup with MLB’s best team.
The view from inside the stadium: For a couple of teams that love analytics and thinking outside the box, Tampa Bay and Oakland have lined up an old-school type of pitching matchup, with A’s manager Bob Melvin announcing Tuesday that Sean Manaea will face the Rays’ Charlie Morton. Meanwhile, fans in Oakland are hoping history doesn’t repeat itself — again. The A’s have lost eight straight winner-take-all postseason games, five of them at home.
A stat to impress your friends: There have been 28 wild-card teams in completed postseasons since the current format began in 2012. Just six of those teams have reached the AL or NL Championship Series. Only two have reached the World Series. The Giants beat the Royals in the 2014 World Series when both were wild cards.
Predictions: Morton has been terrific all season, and I see him going six or seven strong innings, replicating his clutch performance in the 2017 World Series. Kevin Cash might then use six relievers to get the final eight outs. Rays 3, A’s 1. — David Schoenfield
This has a chance to be the single best game of the postseason. Oakland 2-1. — Jeff Passan
About last night
Stud of the night: Nationals reliever Stephen Strasburg. Well, he was a reliever Tuesday, holding down the Brewers with three shutout innings after Max Scherzer went the first five and gave up three runs. That set the stage for the eighth-inning dramatics.
Dud of the night: Brewers right fielder Trent Grisham, who overran Juan Soto‘s bases-loaded hit in the eighth, letting the ball skip under his glove and the go-ahead run score. Milwaukee fans will be left to wonder what would have happened with the injured Christian Yelich in right.
Highlight of the night:
With the bases loaded, Juan Soto rips a ball into right field, and Trent Grisham misplays it, allowing three runs to score as the Nationals take the lead in the eighth inning.
Off the diamond
Social media says:
— MLB (@MLB) October 2, 2019
Quote of note: “There’s not an atmosphere like it. It’s going to be rowdy. It’ll be fun to watch. These guys have no idea. It’s like a Raiders game. You get crazy people.” — A’s pitcher Brett Anderson on what he expects the AL wild-card environment to be like on Wednesday in Oakland
Best of the playoffs so far …
Our running postseason MVP: Juan Soto. The Nationals’ 20-year-old star delivered in the biggest at-bat of his young career with a two-out, bases-loaded hit that also happens to be …
The play of this October: Soto’s single/Grisham’s error turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 Washington lead. Unfortunately for Grisham, the play will be part of those postseason blunders lists — and it could take on a life of its own if the Nationals end up winning it all.
Game of the postseason so far: Brewers-Nats, of course. The first game of this postseason set the bar pretty high, with a truly unexpected comeback via a wacky turn of events. The fun has begun!