Friday’s 2021 Major League Baseball playoffs take to the next level with a list of four divisional round games. The Astros won the first game of the day, taking a 2-0 lead over the ALDS White Sox. In Game 2, the Brewers won Game 1 over the Braves by a score of 2-1. The Giants and Dodgers face off in nightcaps, and the Red Sox look to level their streak with the Red Sox with ALDS Game 2. (Here’s the full playoff schedule.)
Friday play-off results
And now, a few takeaways from Friday’s action.
Rowdy, Brewers win the pitching duel
The NLDS opener between the Braves and the Brewers looked like a connoisseur pitching duel until Rowdy Tellez broke a scoreless tie in the seventh with a two-run homerun against Atlanta’s Charlie Morton. The Milwaukee reliever box held just enough of that lead, as the Brewers took a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-five series with the 2-1 victory.
Tellez, seeing Morton for the third time in the game, returned a 1-2 fastball and sent him 411 feet down center right. The clutch explosion left Tellez batting at 109.3 mph:
Ahead of his home plate exploits, Tellez also did the heavy lifting in a 1-2 double play in the lead that helped Brewers starter Corbin Burnes escape an early traffic jam.
Burnes overcame early leadership issues and had six scoreless innings with six strikeouts and three walks. Of his 91 throws, 57 went for strikes. He caused six strikeouts – including that key double play in the first – against a single fly-out. Moreover, Burnes allowed just two hard-hit balls in the first game. He didn’t allow any hits until Eddie Rosario’s single bloop to start the fifth. Burnes struck out a pair of sticks in his final inning, but Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell opted to pinch him in the half of the sixth. Pinch hitter Dan Vogelbach worked a walk – Morton’s first of the game.
Opposite, Morton was just as efficient and even more dominant, at least until Tellez’s decisive home run. Flashing full mastery of his hammer ball and showing one of his fastest speeds of 2021, Morton hit nine and only walked in six innings of work. He allowed two earned on three hits.
Braves outfielder Joc Pederson cut Milwaukee’s lead in half in the eighth with a solo homerun over field from Adrian Houser, who was working his second frame in relief from Burnes. Then, however, the closest to the lockdown, Josh Hader, closed the game in the ninth after a starting walk and a single against Austin Riley.
Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday in Milwaukee, as Max Fried clashes with Brandon Woodruff.
The Bullpens decide on the Astros-Chisox 2 game
The Astros beat the White Sox by a 9-4 (box scoring) final on Friday afternoon in Game 2 of their American League best-of-five division series. The Astros now have a 2-0 lead with the series heading to Chicago on Sunday. The two teams traded leads in the first five innings. The White Sox took the lead in the first when Luis Robert scored on the choice of a defensive player to make it 1-0. Houston first tied the game in the second set on a Kyle Tucker single, then took the lead later in that frame on a sacrificial fly from Chas McCormick. The White Sox pushed three through the plate to take a 4-2 lead in the fifth, but once again the Astros roared and tied the game at 4-4 on a Yuli Gurriel single.
From there it was all Houston.
Neither starter Lucas Giolito nor Framber Valdez finished up to five innings, meaning the game was ultimately left in the hands of the relief corps. The Astros rose to the challenge; the White Sox did not.
Five Houston relievers combined to throw 4 2/3 shutout frames. Chicago also had to use five relievers, but rather than a clean sheet, Aaron Bummer and Craig Kimbrel ended up with twisted numbers.
Indeed, Bummer and Kimbrel allowed five runs on five hits in a total inning of work. Bummer, for his part, allowed three singles that gave the Astros a 5-4 lead. Kimbrel then came in and gave Carlos Correa a brace to make it 7-4, then a two-point shot to Kyle Tucker to put the game out of reach.
As we’ve noted elsewhere, for as busy as the White Sox relieving pen appears on paper, they tended to melt during the regular season. They did it again on Friday – and notably without using Michael Kopech. When asked about Kopech’s absence from manager Tony La Russa, he provided the following blunt response:
Down 0-2 in the series, the story is not on Chicago’s side. The White Sox will now need three straight wins to avoid elimination in the Division Series. According to Andrew Simon of MLB.com, there were 32 instances in the 2-2-1 format era where a road team lost the first two games. Only three of those teams returned to win the series. Conversely, 19 of those teams were swept away in three games. We’ll see if the White Sox can prove to be the exception on Sunday afternoon.
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