A Friday with two potential elimination games in the National League got off to a surprising start when the Miami Marlins knocked the Chicago Cubs out of the 2020 MLB playoffs with a 2-0 Game 2 victory at Wrigley Field. The Marlins move on to face the Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series while the Cubs will be left wondering what happened to their once-mighty offense.
But the day's pressure-packed baseball action had just begun, with the San Diego Padres later eliminating the St. Louis Cardinals with a 4-0 victory in the winner-take-all Game 3. Here's what you need to know on the final day of wild-card series action.
What it means: The Marlins -- a team that lost 105 games in 2019 and began 2020 with a COVID-19 outbreak that put their season in jeopardy -- not only made the playoffs but have now swept the Cubs at Wrigley Field in their wild-card series. The Cubs, who struggled to hit all year, were held to just a single run in the two-game set.
After a rainout delayed Game 2 by a day, Yu Darvish, Chicago's ace, was asked to save the season -- which proved an impossible task given the lack of run support. Though Darvish allowed just two runs over 6⅔ innings, the Cubs mustered only four hits in five frames against 22-year-old fireballer Sixto Sanchez and just one in the final four innings against the Miami bullpen.
And yes, you can say it with us: The Marlins still have never lost a postseason series in franchise history.
Next up: The Marlins head to Houston to face the Braves in the National League Division Series, beginning Tuesday. For the Cubs, big questions loom for 2021 and beyond.
Updated odds for every series
Projections courtesy of ESPN's Bradford Doolittle.
Padres-Cardinals (tied 1-1): Padres 62.2% to advance.
Current World Series odds:
NL: Dodgers 39.3%, Braves 11.1%, Padres 8.8%, Cubs 2.0%, Cardinals 1.4%, Marlins 0.8%.
AL: Rays 13.5%, Yankees 9.4%, A's 9.4%, Astros 4.4%.
Stat of the day
Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers of the Padres became the second pair of teammates in postseason history to each have two home runs in the same game Thursday night. They join Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, who did it for the Yankees in the 1932 World Series.
About last night ...
The A's had lost nine straight winner-take-all postseason games (their previous victory was in the 1973 World Series). The White Sox had never had a winner-take-all game. Maybe all that losing finally helped Oakland, which moved on to the American League Division Series by beating Chicago 6-4. The A's fell behind 3-0 but rallied against a parade of White Sox relievers, winning a postseason game in which they trailed by three or more runs for only the third time. They're now 3-47 in such games. Next for Oakland is a bad-blood matchup with the Astros in the division series.
The Reds went out with a whimper as they were shut out for the second consecutive game, falling to the Braves 5-0. Rookie Ian Anderson led the way with nine strikeouts in six innings as, like Oakland, Atlanta erased a run of postseason futility, posting its first series win since 2001, a streak of 10 series losses. ... The Brewers were sent packing by Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers 3-0. .... The Padres' home run barrage sank the Cardinals 11-9, forcing a decisive Game 3 on Friday.
Social media post of the day
Goooo homeeeee😂 pic.twitter.com/Xg1vryQ1CO— Ronald Acuna Jr (@ronaldacunajr24) October 2, 2020
Best moment of the MLB playoffs to date
Postseason baseball, meet Fernando Tatis Jr. With his team trailing 6-2 in the sixth inning of Game 2 against the Cardinals on Thursday night, MLB's most electrifying player sparked a much-needed uprising with a three-run homer. Manny Machado followed with another homer in the next at-bat to tie it, and when the dust finally settled, San Diego had hit five home runs, including another Tatis shot -- complete with an epic bat flip. The Padres had fended off elimination with an 11-9 win, and Tatis had enlivened not just his team but the entire sport.
Niño's not like the rest of us 😤 pic.twitter.com/qdZinLgppt— San Diego Padres (@Padres) October 2, 2020
And the running MLB playoff MVP is ...
The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. Eight dominant innings, giving up only three hits while recording 13 strikeouts, all on breaking pitches. The 13 K's in Game 2 against the Brewers was the most by a pitcher in a potential series-clinching game. And perhaps most important, the performance might have set the tone for L.A.'s October.