The first day of the 2020 playoffs did not go very well for my casual rooting interests. Three of the four teams whose victories I would have preferred instead lost and could be eliminated today. The best-of-three series is an ice-cold invention. We can only hope that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s antipathy towards baseball does not extend into making this expanded postseason stuff a permanent change.
Today, everybody is in the pool. There are sixteen playoff teams and they all play today. Eight games is a lot! There’s a game starting every hour from noon Eastern to 5pm, with prime time games starting at 7 and 10. If your life affords you the chance to watch all of this baseball, I hope you can enjoy it. We may never see anything like it again.
There are eight games scheduled tomorrow as well but if any of the AL series end in a two-game “sweep,” there will be fewer. The Twins, Athletics, Blue Jays, and Indians are already in “win or go home” mode and the three of them who are already home probably won’t feel better about not having to go anywhere in order to pack up their stuff.
Here are all of today’s games and where you can find them on your television:
Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves, 12pm - ESPN
The Fighting Nick Markakii get the task of going first on this packed day of baseball. I’m sure it’s kind of annoying to be a Braves fan and your team won the division and you get the noon game - I still remember being annoyed at the Orioles-Tigers ALDS game times in 2014. Cy Young candidate Trevor Bauer is pitching for the Reds. The Braves will be hoping he looks about how Cleveland’s Cy Young candidate Shane Bieber pitched for the Indians yesterday.
Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins, 1pm - ESPN2
Some Twitter observers who were closely following yesterday’s broadcast seemed to think that the commentators were under strict orders not to mention the Astros trash can cheating scandal. There was, apparently, never a direct reference to it. I hope the Astros lose the next two games so we don’t have to hear about them again this year. But their chances seem pretty good today if they end up facing a snakebitten Twins team that’s carrying the weight of 17 straight postseason losses dating to 2004. The particular way they lost yesterday had a strong “this team is cursed and the players know it” feel.
Miami Marlins at Chicago Cubs, 2pm - ABC
I’m more ambivalent about this matchup than any other one. I don’t care about either of these teams and I don’t really want either of them to be the one to win it all. Irrelevant to the actual on-field action, this is the only one of today’s games where the ESPN site has a “buy tickets” link, which goes to a link to buy seats on one of those businesses across the street with rooftop seats with a Wrigley Field view. Would you pay $367 to sit up there today? That was the price when I looked at 10am.
Chicago White Sox at Oakland Athletics, 3pm - ESPN
If the games move at the pace they were moving yesterday, this game will begin before the noon ESPN game has ended. Perhaps ESPN will have to activate The Ocho to handle spillover MLB postseason action. Or more likely they’ll put it on ESPNews. The Athletics will be hoping Chris Bassitt and his 2.21 ERA can keep the White Sox down - oh, and Athletics batters have to face off against a former Cy Young winner, Dallas Keuchel. Oakland’s honcho Billy Beane infamously says his shit doesn’t work in the playoffs and that’s even more true when it’s a best-of-three series where his team already lost the first game.
Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays, 4pm - TBS
The Rays were the only home team to win yesterday. That probably doesn’t have much bearing on whether they will win today, though it can’t hurt. This series has the distinction of being the only intra-division matchup in the first round, which is kind of incredible considering four NL Central teams made the postseason. In an ordinary year, I might root against the Rays because I don’t want to look at the Trop, but if they win this first round series, no more games will be played there as the playoffs move to a neutral site.
St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego Padres, 5pm - ESPN2
In this 60-game season where the Orioles never played a team outside of the East, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to Central or West rosters. The two starting pitchers in this game are Kwang-Hyun Kim and Chris Paddack. Don’t ask me to tell you anything about either one of them. I want the Padres to win because Ryan Flaherty should be a World Series champion (coach). Oh, yeah, and Manny Machado too.
New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians, 7pm - ESPN
I hate the freaking Yankees, you guys. Yet as has been consistent throughout my life, my dislike has absolutely no impact on whether they win or lose games, and because they’ve been consistently good, they consistently win, including yesterday, when they thumped the Indians 12-3 in the one game Cleveland probably thought was a gimme with Bieber pitching. The Indians offense stinks and now they’re facing Masahiro Tanaka. Good luck.
Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers, 10pm - ESPN
If the 29-31 Brewers beat the 43-17 Dodgers in a best-of-three series, that would be hilarious for just about anyone except for Dodgers fans. I don’t think I would enjoy it very much, though, because that level of mediocrity should not be rewarded. If the Dodgers are going to get bounced out of the postseason, I hope they can at least make it into the division series. As a team, the Dodgers had a 3.02 ERA for the season. That’s impressive.