The Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves made postseason history Wednesday — but not exactly the type they had hoped for in their first playoff game of 2020.
The Braves took Game 1 of their NL wild-card series 1-0 after almost five hours of baseball and a record 12 scoreless innings. While some other bits of history were made in what began as a pitching duel between Trevor Bauer and Max Fried, the larger piece of history was this: This was the first time ever an MLB playoff game was 0-0 through 12 innings.
The Braves finally got on the board in the 13th inning when Nick Markakis and Austin Riley had consecutive singles off Archie Bradley to start the inning. Cristian Pache, who pinch ran for Markakis, went to third on a fielder’s choice. Then, MVP candidate Freddie Freeman delivered the walk-off single to center for a 1-0 win.
It came after the Reds blew their biggest chance to score in the 13th inning. They had the bases loaded with one out but a strikeout and ground ball ended that threat with no runs across the board.
The Braves will happily take their 1-0 lead in this best-of-three battle, but the fact remains that there will be ramifications for the rest of the series. The Reds used four relievers after Bauer gave them 7⅔ strong innings. The Braves’ bullpen, meanwhile, called on seven different pitchers after Fried’s seven shutout innings.
It stood in stark contrast to MLB’s updated extra-innings rules for the shortened 2020 season, which were put in place to avoid just this sort of thing. Extra innings games started with runners on second base during the regular season. Not so in the postseason. With this being the first extra-innings game, we got a reminder of how things used to be.
The game started off normal enough, with Fried and Bauer matching each other with zeros. Bauer went on to strike out 12 Atlanta hitters, while Fried wasn’t quite as dominant in the strikeout category but left with the same scoreless result. On Bauer’s side, he also did something no pitcher had ever done in the postseason:
Trevor Bauer is the first pitcher in postseason baseball history to go at least 7.2 shutout innings with no walks and at least 12 strikeouts.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 30, 2020
The Reds did fumble some opportunities earlier in the game by being a bit too aggressive on the basepaths. In the sixth, Nick Castellanos tried to take an extra base on a single and get to third base but was cut down on a great throw by Adam Duvall and a fantastic tag by Austin Riley. In the next inning, with runners at first and third, Aristides Aquino was tagged out in a rundown between third and home in a straight-out-of-Little League moment that left Reds fans frustrated.
Neither one of those gaffes will be what this game is remembered for — but missing that bases-loaded opportunity in the 13th is another story.
Still, this was an extraordinary 0-0 chess match through the first 12 innings. Now we’ll see what effect it has on the rest of this series.
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