Trevor Bauer took the mound for Cincinnati's playoff opener and produced a line never before seen in the postseason — 12 strikeouts, no walks and no runs allowed in 7 2/3 two-hit innings. The Reds and Atlanta Braves struck out 37 times — no playoff game had ever stayed scoreless for so long.
Then, hours later, the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees played a game that might as well have been a different sport.
“Another notch of experience for these guys in tough situations — in adverse situations at times,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, describing a victory in a contest that included 19 runs and 19 walks.
It's been a feast-or-famine postseason on the pitcher's mound so far. Bauer and Clayton Kershaw were both dominant, while Brandon Woodruff and Yu Darvish were impressive in a losing cause. Then there were teams like the Indians and Chicago White Sox, whose seasons are over in large part because of control problems that popped up at the worst possible time.
The contrast was unusually clear Wednesday, when the Braves and Reds played 4 hours, 39 minutes, and it felt like they might never score. Then the Indians and Yankees went 4:50 — plus over an hour waiting out the weather — because outs were so hard to come by.
The Atlanta-Cincinnati contest was the first postseason game to be scoreless after 11 innings. The Braves finally won 1-0. New York beat Cleveland 10-9 in the longest nine-inning game in big league history.
Kershaw — at least momentarily — shoved aside talk of his past postseason struggles by striking out 13 in eight innings Thursday night. His Los Angeles Dodgers knocked out Milwaukee with a 3-0 victory — Woodruff struck out nine for the Brewers.
Friday's slate included two shutouts — and even those came about in different ways. The Marlins beat Darvish and the Cubs 2-0. Miami's starter, Sixto Sánchez, blanked Chicago for five innings.