On a Thursday that could see as many as four teams sent home from the 2020 MLB playoffs, the Atlanta Braves got things started with an NLDS sweep of the Miami Marlins in Houston. Will the Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers join them in advancing, or will the Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees and San Diego Padres keep their seasons alive?
Here are the stars, turning points and takeaways from each of Thursday’s games.
Key links: Ranking the remaining teams | Guide to bubble ballparks | Schedule, bracket
Atlanta Braves 7, Miami Marlins 0
What it means: The gap between even two disparately matched teams doesn’t always show up in a short series, but it sure did in this one. The Braves throttled the underdog Marlins in every way imaginable. Atlanta got airtight pitching, timely defense and an offense that kept the scoreboard clicking both with and without home runs.
The Marlins did not look ready for prime time, which really should have surprised no one. They were a 31-29 team during the season that was outscored by 41 runs. Miami has more work left ahead of it in its quest to construct a perennial winner. Still, from overcoming an early-season COVID-19 outbreak to rarely seeing its home ballpark in the opening weeks of the campaign, the Marlins overcame a lot to get this far. Better days lie ahead, and establishing an organizational identity as one of resilience is not nothing for a franchise that has for so long lacked an identity of any sort. Kudos to Don Mattingly and his squad.
Now Atlanta will move up in class after polishing off Cincinnati and Miami without breaking a proverbial sweat. By polishing off the Marlins in three games, now the Braves can make the short trip from Houston to Arlington and enjoy three days off before the NLCS begins Monday. Thus, manager Brian Snitker and his staff can set up their pitching plan however they see fit. The Dodgers and the Padres present a considerably more formidable test for Atlanta, but so far, the Braves appear to be more than ready for it. — Bradford Doolittle
Next up: Atlanta’s NLCS matchup with Los Angeles or San Diego will begin Monday night in Arlington, Texas. Miami heads into the offseason with questions to answer after a surprising run has come to an end.
More Thursday games:
Game 4: A’s-Astros, follow live
Game 4: Rays-Yankees, 7:10 p.m. ET
Game 3: Dodgers-Padres, 9:08 p.m. ET