The 2020 MLB playoffs began Tuesday with four American League Wild Card Series.
The Chicago White Sox beat the Oakland A’s as Lucas Giolito flirted with perfection. The Houston Astros, who finished the 2020 season with a losing record, topped the Minnesota Twins to extend Minnesota’s record playoff losing streak to 17 games.
Here are the heroes, turning points and takeaways from the Game 1s as each opening matchup concludes.
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Jump to … CHW at OAK | HOU at MIN
Chicago White Sox 4, Oakland A’s 1
Game 1 hero: Lucas Giolito. The White Sox ace became the fifth player in MLB history to take a perfect game into the seventh inning of a postseason game and allowed just a run on two hits and a walk over 7-plus frames.
What it means for the White Sox: What does a bad finish tell us? Apparently, not much. The White Sox looked like a dispirited club as they dropped seven of eight to finish the season. In the first game of their first postseason game in 12 years, that changed. It didn’t hurt that Chicago’s No. 1 starter — Giolito — pitched like a championship-level No. 1 starter, taking a perfect game into the seventh. Just as important though was the lineup of bashers who swaggered their way through most of the short season was back. Adam Engel, Jose Abreu and Yasmani Grandal went deep, as the White Sox were characteristically aggressive at the plate and did damage when they made contact. That was the team we saw for most of the campaign. — Bradford Doolittle
What it means for the A’s: The less said about this performance by the A’s the better. Their lineup was the biggest question mark heading into the 2020 postseason, and Giolito validated those concerns. He was brilliant, the White Sox’s relievers did enough to hold the lead and now the A’s — who have bowed out of the playoffs five times in the last eight years without reaching the ALCS — need to beat Dallas Keuchel and his 1.99 ERA to remain alive. — Jeff Passan
Next up: Game 2, Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Twins surrender three runs in the ninth inning and lose 4-1 to the Astros, setting an American pro sports record with their 17th consecutive postseason loss.
Houston Astros 4, Minnesota Twins 1
Game 1 hero: Framber Valdez. Taking out a former Cy Young winner early is exactly the kind of move that can get you second-guessed in the postseason, but young Valdez made Dusty Baker look very smart when he came in and pitched beautifully in relief of Zack Greinke. The relief outing gave Houston’s offense a chance to finally pounce and steal Game 1.
What it means for the Astros: Never did the Astros panic — not when they were stranding runners, not when their starter Greinke got chased after four innings and not when Jose Altuve, in the midst of a season-long struggle, took a full-count Sergio Romo fastball just above the strike zone for ball four to put them ahead in the ninth. Between him and Valdez going five brilliant innings in relief with just a fastball and curveball — and escaping a ninth-inning jam — the Astros did just what they needed to scrape by. And now they’re in quite the enviable position: two cracks at a chance to face the winner of Chicago-Oakland in the division series. — Passan
What it means for the Twins: I’d argue that no team needed to win its first game more than the Twins, because now they’re staring at that incredible, inconceivable mark of 17 consecutive losses in the postseason. Different teams, different years, sure, but that doesn’t mean this streak doesn’t feel like the weight of the Mall of America on their shoulders. Those 17 defeats have come in many ways, but this was one of the most painful. Shortstop Jorge Polanco made a lazy error with two outs in the ninth inning, casually flipping the ball wide of second base on what should have been an inning-ending force that would have kept the game tied at 1. Now they have to summon the mental fortitude to ignore those 16 years of history and hit the ball over the fence — or just get a hit with a runner in scoring position after going 0-for-7 in Game 1. — David Schoenfield
Next up: Game 2, Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN2
More Tuesday games
Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays, live on TBS
New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN