Maybe more so than any other team, the Rays do not allow their pitchers to go through the lineup a third time. It makes sense too. Hitters perform better the more times they see a pitcher — this year the MLB averages were a .729 OPS the first time through the lineup, a .777 OPS the second time, and an .807 OPS the third time. Tampa pitchers faced only 591 batters after two turns through the line this season, third fewest in baseball. 1
Minnesota relievers

Winner: Stephen Strasburg 

Pretty much no one in the Cardinals lineup had a good day Friday, but the bottom of the order was especially bad. No. 6 hitter Kolten Wong went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. No. 7 hitter Paul DeJong went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. No. 8 hitter Harrison Bader went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts. That’s 0 for 10 with seven strikeouts not including the pitcher’s spot. Ouch.
Well, in ALDS Game 1 on Friday, Rays manager Kevin Cash stuck with starter Tyler Glasnow against the lineup a third time, and Jose Altuve clobbered a go-ahead two-run home run: 4 1/3

Loser: Clayton Kershaw

The Yankees started LeMahieu at first base and batted him leadoff and it worked out just fine.
Cody Stashak allowed solo homers to LeMahieu and Brett Gardner, and starter-turned-reliever Kyle Gibson was tagged for three runs in the seventh inning to break the game open. Neither Jose Berrios nor James Paxton was good in Game 1. Once each team turned it over to the bullpen, it was advantage Yankees. Minnesota’s relief crew really took one on the chin Friday.
Verlander threw 100 pitches on the game, more than half of those being heaters. He averaged 94.5 mph on his fastball and induced 14 swinging strikes — with 10 of those coming on his breaking balls. In other words, it was a mostly standard Verlander outing.

Winner: Justin Verlander

To Foltynewicz’s credit, he’s performed well since returning from the minors in August. In 10 regular-season starts since, he’d posted a 2.65 ERA with 55 strikeouts and 17 walks. If the Braves are to make a legit run at the pennant, they’ll need him to keep it up.
Furthermore, Wong and Bader had two of the team’s three at-bats with runners in scoring position, and were unable to come through. Granted, the top of the lineup wasn’t much better (1-2-3 hitters went 1 for 12 with two strikeouts), but gosh, the Cardinals received no help from the lower portion of their batting order Friday. 1

Loser: Twins bullpen

Strasburg was perfect entering the fifth inning before Will Smith hit a blooper to center field. Otherwise, he was about as nasty as ever, striking out 10 over six one-run frames and showing high-grade secondaries in addition to mid-90s fastballs. Strasburg generated 20 swinging strikes on 85 pitches, with 15 of those coming on either his changeup or breaking ball. 3

5 N.Y. Yankees relievers N.Y. Yankees relievers N.Y. Yankees relievers 5 For the first time this year, four MLB postseason games were played during a single day. Each year the schedule aligns once, maybe twice, to bring us four games in one October day. Friday was that day for baseball fans. Here’s a look at the final scores:

You know, Clayton Kershaw was not that bad in NLDS Game 2. Three runs in six innings is a winnable start, as far as I’m concerned, especially with the Los Angeles offense. It just didn’t come together Friday.

Winner: Mike Foltynewicz

The Nationals and Dodgers will now traverse to D.C. for Game 3 with an even series. Strasburg, as much as anyone, deserves credit for the National getting this far.  

Loser: The bottom of the Cardinals lineup

The answer: just fine.
LeMahieu obviously had a fantastic regular season for the Yankees, posting a 136 OPS+ and notching 26 home runs. It doesn’t seem like he’s ready to stop now that it’s October, either.
Kershaw gets saddled with the loser label here because he lost the game, and turned in yet another subpar postseason performance. He went into NLDS Game 2 with a career 4.32 ERA — he had a 4.66 ERA in his last eight postseason games — and the Dodgers are now 3-6 in his last nine October appearances. That’s hard to believe.

Winner: DJ LeMahieu

Foltynewicz shut the Cardinals down thoroughly and authoritatively in NLDS Game 2. It was close to a must-win game for Atlanta too. The Braves didn’t want to go back to St. Louis down 0-2 in a best-of-five series.
Here are some winners and losers — one of each from each game — from Friday’s MLB postseason action:
The Astros won Game 1 against the Rays in convincing fashion behind Verlander’s historic start — he recorded just the 13th game in postseason history wherein the starter tossed seven-plus shutout innings and allowed one hit or fewer. Verlander also fanned eight and issued just three free passes.

Loser: The third time through the order

Thanks to those Braves and Nationals wins, we will have another four-game day on Monday. Those will be the two ALDS Game 3s and the two NLDS Game 4s.  One of the big questions facing the Nationals in their series against the Dodgers was how would Strasburg bounce back on short rest after a 34-pitch relief outing on Tuesday.