Eighty-five million dollars. Eight-five and six zeros. Eighty-five thousand grand, if you will. That was the difference in Opening Day payroll between the New York Yankees ($114 million, no. 1 in MLB) and the Tampa Bay Rays ($29 million, no. 27). For context, the Braves ($65 million), Reds ($53 million) and “Moneyball” Oakland A’s ($35 million) all fall above the Rays on this financial spectrum.
Here’s another stat: three games to two. Yankees, exit stage left. Isn’t baseball a grand game?
The second week of the 2020 postseason is finished, and just like that, we’re onto the League Championship round with storylines galore. This is a short roundup, since we’ve got individual rundowns for each team coming this week. Let’s talk about it, shall we?
A.L. Recap: Rays, Astros Surge On
Goodbye, Yankees. I would say we hardly knew ya, but let’s be honest, you were on the primetime TV slot every single day, so we knew ya pretty well. Arguably too well. We know the Astros pretty well too, unfortunately, but they’re still playing. Here’s everything you missed this week:
Rays 3, Yankees 2
If you took the over on runs scored in this one, thank Randy Arozarena and Giancarlo Stanton. The best series of the divisional round started with a bang from the Bronx bombers, who rode ace Gerrit Cole and hit three home runs off 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell in a 9-3 victory. But the Rays’ versatile lineup bounced back against J.A. Happ in game two, then teed off against Masahiro Tanaka in game three to take the lead in the series. The Yankees managed to force a rubber match thanks to the unorthodox efforts of Jordan Montgomery and Chad Green in game four. That’s when the fun began.
In game five, Cole returned to face young hurler Tyler Glasnow, both on short rest. The contest lived up to the hype. Through seven innings the two teams combined for five hits, and the score was tied 1-1 thanks to solo homers by Austin Meadows and Aaron Judge. Then in the bottom of the eighth, defensive substitute Mike Brosseau stepped to the plate against Aroldis Chapman—the very same matchup that led to a benches-clearing fracas back in September, when Chapman guided a 101 mph missile into the space that had been recently occupied by Brosseau’s head. If you believe in the baseball gods, you can probably guess what happened next… but I’m a sucker for drama, so I’ll let Yankees superfan Jomboy break down this amazing at bat:
Mike Brosseau hits a go-ahead home run in Game 5 of the ALDS, a breakdown pic.twitter.com/43wzZUVa48
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) October 10, 2020
And that was that. Tampa Bay is headed to the ALCS, and per reports, the local stingray is in a better mood than ever.
Astros 3, A’s 1
Lord help us all, because the Astros bats have woken up. Despite finishing the regular season with a losing record (29-31), Houston has torn through the playoffs to reach their fourth straight ALCS. The A’s did put up a bit more of a fight than the Twins, even though there was no actual fight this time.
In game one, Lance McCullers received a rude welcome from the A’s bats but the Astros rallied for a 10-5 win. Game two followed a similar pattern: two longballs from George Springer were all the ‘Stros needed to put away Oakland after trailing early. Game three reversed the script, as Houston jumped out to a 7-4 lead only to blow it on another clutch home run from Chad Pinder—followed by a few 8th inning sac flies—which was all that known Australian Liam Hendriks needed to close out the last three innings of a 9-7 Athletics win.
Hopes were high when the A’s jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Zack Greinke in the fourth game, but it didn’t last long. The “trash can cavaliers” blasted four more dingers out of Dodger Stadium, including two from Michael Brantley, to win 11-6. The cheatin’ Stros are moving on. The only question that remains is how angry should you be?
Game one of the American League Championship Series is tonight, starting at 7:37 on TBS.
N.L. Recap: Dodgers, Braves Secure Rematch
They faced off in the NLDS in 2013, and the Dodgers won. They faced off in the NLDS in 2018, and the Dodgers won, again. They were supposed to face off in the NLCS last year, but the favored Braves were eliminated after giving up ten runs in one inning to the Cardinals and the Dodgers were shocked by the future World Champion Nationals. Now they’re facing off once more, and L.A. has a chance to complete the decade sweep of Atlanta. Braves fans, who’s ready for some P.T.S.D.??
Both series’ this week ended in sweeps, so the drama was minimal. But I’m giving you recaps anyway, because I’m just that generous.
Dodgers 3, Padres 0
For a brief moment in game two, it looked like we might have a series on our hands. That was when Fernando Tatis Jr. stepped to the plate with two outs in the ninth, runner on first, trailing 6-5, after having a home run robbed by Cody Bellinger in his previous at-bat. Watching this, I felt like the kid in Mr. Incredible’s driveway waiting for “something amazing” to happen. Instead he walked, and two batters later, Eric Hosmer grounded out to end the game. The next morning, Mike Clevinger—who pitched one clearly-injured inning in the game one loss—was officially removed from the Padres roster, and their hopes of making an extended playoff run went with him.
Game three on Thursday went about as well as you’d expect, as the Dodgers teed off for 12 runs against a mixed bag of Padres bullpenners. Catcher Will Smith set a club record with five hits in the game, and that’s pretty much all you need to know. The Dodgers are the real deal.
Braves 3, Marlins 0
The Marlins have now lost one (1) postseason series. And frankly, after they fell behind in game one it was never in doubt. The Fish managed to score four runs off Max Fried, but the Braves offense took offense after Ronald Acuña was hit by a 3rd-inning pitch from Sandy Alcantara. They scored twice that inning, then broke it open in the 7th thanks to massive bombs by Travis d’Arnaud and Dansby Swanson, resulting in a lopsided 9-5 final. The Marlins would not score again in the series.
They did, however, take the opportunity to talk a little trash, which we always support here on KSR dot com. The only problem is, they apparently forgot to back it up. The Braves won game two 2-0 on another strong start from Ian Anderson, and closed out the sweep 7-0 in game three behind Kyle Wright‘s scoreless debut.
Game one of the National League Championship Series begins Monday night at 8 p.m. on Fox.
Baseball Oddities: Divisional Edition
- With his home run in game one on Monday, Astros 3B Alex Bregman made history by homering on Oct. 5… for the fourth consecutive year.
- Per Jayson Stark, the Rays’ series-clinching home run on Friday was just the fourth longball that Aroldis Chapman has given up in the past calendar year. Two of them have ended a season for the Yankees.
- After that game, the Rays had a dance battle on the field. Randy Arozarena just keeps racking up W’s.
- COMING: Big changes to baseball’s Minor Leagues – as part of Rob Manfred’s MiLB contraction crusade, say goodbye to the Appalachian League. Also: remaining minor league clubs are now considered “licensed affiliates.”
- GOING: The chances of getting that coveted Mike Fiers vs. Astros matchup – there’s a good chance he would’ve started game five against the team whose scandal he personally exposed. Oh well.