All four of Major League Baseball’s best-of-five League Division Series are in action Thursday with a pair of NLDS Game 3s and a pair of ALDS Game 4s. The Braves punched their ticket to the NLCS in the day’s first game, ousting the underdog Marlins in a sweep. The Dodgers are trying to complete a sweep of their own over the Padres in the other NLDS meeting. In the AL, the Rays and Astros are trying to close out the Yankees and A’s, respectively.

MLB playoff TV schedule, scores

  • FINAL: Braves 7, Marlins 0 — Atlanta wins series 3-0
  • LIVE: Astros at Athletics — Houston leads series 2-1
  • Rays at Yankees, 7:10 p.m. ET (TBS) — Tampa Bay leads series 2-1
  • Padres at Dodgers, 9:08 p.m. ET (MLBN) — Los Angeles leads series 2-0

Wright, d’Arnaud propel Atlanta to NLCS

Thursday afternoon, the Atlanta Braves clinched a spot in the 2020 National League Championship Series with a Game 3 win over the Miami Marlins (ATL 7, MIA 0). Atlanta has earned its first trip to the NLCS since 2001.

The Braves also became the first team to beat the Marlins in a playoff series. Entering this year’s NLDS, Miami owned an undefeated all-time record in postseason series. Miami had won their first seven postseason series: three during their 1997 World Series run, three during their 2003 World Series runs and this year’s wild card round. Those are the only three seasons the franchise has made the postseason.

The Braves swept the best-of-five series and await the winner of the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres NLDS. The Braves are 5-0 this postseason after posting a 35-25 record in the abbreviated 2020 regular season. In the best-of-three NL Wild Card Series, the No. 2 seed Braves swept the No. 7 Reds.  After dealing with rotation questions all season, the Braves have thrown four shutouts (and held their opponent scoreless in 42 of 45 innings this postseason) in their first five postseason games this year, including shutouts vs. Miami in Games 2 and 3. 

The NLCS begins Monday (full schedule here).

Rookie right-hander Kyle Wright made his postseason debut for the Braves and threw an impressive game. Wright, the fourth overall selection in the 2017 MLB Draft, got himself out of a big jam by getting Marlins rookie Jazz Chisolm on a groundout with the bases loaded to end the third inning. Following that at-bat, Wright retired 10 consecutive batters and finished with six scoreless innings of three-hit ball with two walks and seven strikeouts. Of his 88 pitches, 52 were thrown for strikes. He averaged 95.3 mph on his fastball.

Thursday’s game was Wright’s first appearance since Sept. 25. The 25-year-old returned to the big league club following a midseason demotion to the alternate site. As MLB’s Sarah Langs notes, Wright became the 12th pitcher in postseason history to make his postseason debut with a start of 6 or more scoreless innings in a potential clincher. The last pitcher to do it? Wright’s teammate, right-hander Ian Anderson. Anderson, 22, pitched six scoreless innings vs. the Reds in Game 2 of the NL Wild Card round.

Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud continued his playoff surge with another solid performance. The 31-year-old veteran knocked in an RBI double in the third inning to score two as part of the Braves’ four-run third inning. In the first five games of the postseason, d’Aranud is hitting 8-for-19 with two home runs. The Braves tacked on another run in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth.

On the Marlins side of things, they sent out their rookie right-hander Sixto Sanchez. After a brilliant performance vs. the Cubs in Game 2 of the NL Wild Card round, Sanchez struggled against the potent Braves lineup. The youngster gave up four earned runs in the third inning before he was pulled for Trevor Rogers.

Montgomery tasked with keeping New York’s season alive

The Yankees season is on the line in Thursday’s Game 4. After New York tried to beat Tampa at their own game with a failed opener strategy in Game 2, the Yankees missed out on jumping out to a 2-0 series lead. Instead, after Wednesday’s Game 3 loss, the Rays are now one win away from outing their AL East rival from the 2020 playoffs.

The Rays will send out an opener of their own in right-hander Ryan Thompson for Game 4, while the Yankees are leaving it up to lefty Jordan Montgomery to help keep New York’s season alive. Montgomery is making his postseason debut.

The Yankees have fought their way out of a 2-1 deficit in the ALDS twice before. In 2001 against the Athletics and more recently, in 2017 against Cleveland. Giancarlo Stanton has hit six home runs and notched 13 RBI in five postseason games this year. He’s the first MLB player to homer in each of his team’s first five games of a postseason. The breakout star for the Rays, meanwhile, has been rookie outfielder Randy Arozarena. He’s hit a home run in three consecutive games in the ALDS.

Dodgers look to close out rival Padres

The Padres came awfully close to stealing Game 2 from the Dodgers — Cody Bellinger robbed the go-ahead homer from Fernando Tatis Jr. and Joe Kelly shut down any further damage in the ninth inning — but now they’ll be fighting to avoid a NLDS sweep Thursday night at Globe Life Field. One more victory for the Dodgers would earn the club their fourth NLCS in five years.

The Padres appear to be going with a bullpen game Thursday, opening with rookie left-hander Adrian Morejon. San Diego’s pitching depth took a hit with the absences of Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet. Clevinger exited his Game 1 start with an injury, while Lamet did not make the Padres’ NLDS roster. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced that right-hander Dustin May will be Thursday night’s starter. May, 23, threw two scoreless innings of relief in Game 1 on Tuesday.

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