M.L.B. Playoffs: Wild-Card Marathon Set to Begin

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It is Day 2 of the 2020 Major League Baseball postseason, and it is a doozy: An orgiastic, 13-hour baseball-a-thon, with an unprecedented series of eight playoff games on a virtual conveyor belt of high-stakes action.

It starts at noon Eastern time in Atlanta, with the next five games scheduled to begin every hour until the Yankees play in Cleveland at 7 p.m. Eastern time, and it lasts until the final pitch is thrown in Los Angeles between the Dodgers and Brewers, probably around 1 a.m., and half of them will be elimination games.

“It’s going to be crazy,” said Chicago White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who will pitch in the third game of the day against the Athletics in Oakland. “It’s almost kind of like a jumbled mess.”

Tuesday was the warm up-act, when baseball turned the page from an abbreviated regular season to an expanded postseason. There were four American League playoff games scheduled Tuesday, starting with the Houston Astros against the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis.

But on Wednesday, when the National League joins the fray, the curtain will rise on the main stage for what may more closely resemble the early days of the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament than a traditional day of playoff baseball.

“March Madness is one of my favorite times of the year,” said Dusty Baker, the Astros manager, who is leading his fifth different team to the postseason. “This is like September Madness.”

Here’s the schedule (All times Eastern):

Reds at Braves, 12 p.m. (ESPN)

Astros at Twins, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)

Marlins at Cubs, 2 p.m. (ABC)

White Sox at A’s, 3 p.m. (ESPN)

Blue Jays at Rays, 4 p.m. (TBS)

Yankees at Indians, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Brewers at Dodgers, 10 p.m. (ESPN)

Game 1 Preview: Reds vs. Braves

One of the fun things about these first-round matchups is that almost all teams are meeting for the first time. Teams played only within their geographic regions in the regular season, so the Braves and the Reds — two charter National League franchises — are just now facing off in 2020.

Last night in Cleveland, the Yankees flattened the Indians’ Shane Bieber when he stepped outside the comforts of the Central. Can the Braves do the same to Trevor Bauer? Like Bieber, Bauer is likely to win his league’s Cy Young Award. But the Braves have an extraordinary offense that ranked first in the majors in on-base plus slugging percentage (.832) and second in runs, behind the Dodgers. Can Bauer, a master pitcher and provocateur, tame Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr. and friends? And if he does, will the Reds’ offense hit Max Fried and the Braves’ stingy bullpen?

Batting average isn’t everything, of course, but it’s still worth noting that the Reds hit only .212 this season — the lowest mark in the majors since the 1910 White Sox.

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