It’s another busy day in the MLB playoffs, with all four division series in action — two series openers in the National League and two Game 2s in the American League.
Here are the stars, turning points and takeaways from each of Tuesday’s games as they conclude.
Key links: Ranking the remaining teams | Guide to bubble ballparks | Schedule, bracket
Houston Astros 5, Oakland A’s 2
What it means: Here’s a statement that’s sure to enrage, oh, 99% of America: The Astros are one win from the American League Championship Series. Now here’s something that should scare what remains of the postseason field: The Astros’ offense looks locked in, and in Framber Valdez, who provided seven innings of two-run ball on another homer-happy afternoon from Dodger Stadium, they have what appears to be the equivalent of a top-of-the-rotation starter.
George Springer homered twice and has six hits in nine at-bats in this series, igniting an offense that is more closely resembling recent history. But it’s the Astros’ pitching that has been particularly impressive. One of the major keys to this series for the A’s is to make Dusty Baker deploy relievers not named Ryan Pressly as often as possible. But in Game 1, Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes and Cristian Javier stepped up. In Game 2, Valdez made the approach irrelevant. The A’s are 1-for-24 in the sixth inning or later in this series. — Alden Gonzalez
Next up: Game 3, Wednesday at 3:35 p.m. ET
Ronald Acuna gets things started with a first-inning home run. In the seventh, Travis d’Arnaud and Dansby Swanson crank home runs, helping the Braves to a Game 1 win.
Atlanta Braves 9, Miami Marlins 5
What it means: It was an action-packed Game 1 between the Braves and Marlins, but Atlanta rolled six runs in the seventh inning to grab the series opener 9-5. Ronald Acuna Jr. homered to lead off the bottom of the first, then was hit by a Sandy Alcantara pitch in his next at-bat to heat things up in the early innings. Remember, there is history between the Marlins and Acuna.
The Marlins put up four runs on Atlanta ace Max Fried, but things unraveled after the teams got into their respective bullpens. The Braves hold a massive advantage in that area and have a much more dynamic offensive attack. The margin is thin in this series for the Marlins, but they’ve been as resilient as a team can be. That trait will be put to the test in Game 2, when Pablo Lopez will try to even things for Miami against Atlanta’s Ian Anderson.
For the Braves, that they could get a subpar outing from Fried and still win a playoff game going away tells you all you need to know about how well-rounded this Atlanta squad is. — Bradford Doolittle
Next up: Game 2, Wednesday at 2:08 p.m. ET
More Tuesday games:
ALDS Game 2: Rays-Yankees, follow live
NLDS Game 1: Padres-Dodgers, follow live