The Division Series got started in the National League on Thursday, with the Cardinals traveling to Atlanta for the early game on the slate. This was a tremendous baseball game that went back and forth and featured a little bit of everything. Atlanta would jump out to a lead first by scoring an error-aided run in the bottom of the first before St. Louis tied it up in the fifth. The Braves responded once more by scoring two more runs in the sixth, again thanks to poor play from a usually-stout Cardinals defense. Then, in the eighth and ninth, the Braves imploded and the Cards had six runs cross the plate in the two frames combined Suddenly they were up 7-3 and it seemed over. Except, the Braves got a two-run homer from Ronald Acuña Jr. and a one-out, solo shot from Freddie Freemand and suddenly it was a one-run game. They couldn’t get that last run across, giving the Cards the win, but it was a thrilling game to watch.
Sox Spin: The pitcher who gave up the four runs in the ninth for the Braves? Old friend Mark Melancon. We all know him from his Red Sox days which were extremely unimpressive, but the righty has been solid this year and at least by peripherals was dominant with the Braves after being traded there midseason. He had multiple chances to escape the inning in two-strike counts but just continued to fail.
Dodgers dominate in Game One win
The other game on Thursday had the Dodgers hosting the Nationals, the latter of whom were of course riding high after an incredible win in the Wild Card Game on Tuesday. That momentum did not carry over in Los Angeles with the two-time defending NL pennant winners asserting their dominance. Patrick Corbin started for the Nats and struggled mightily with his control in the first and the Dodgers scored an early run without even getting a hit in the inning. It only got worse from there as L.A. would smack a couple homers and get a dominant performance from Walker Buehler on the mound to take an easy 6-0 win to start this series.
Sox Spin: I got nothing. Joe Kelly did get the final three outs, but it wasn’t a particularly pressure-filled situation.
Mets fire Mickey Callaway
Another managerial position is open in baseball, with the Mets firing Mickey Callaway on Thursday. Despite coming off a winning season and being in the postseason chase longer than many expected, it wasn’t enough for the manager to keep his job. Even given the relative on-field success for New York this year, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Over his two years in the position Callaway never really gave off the impression that he was great at handling the pressure in New York, not to mention some really, really questionable on-field decisions that were followed by even more questionable explanations after games. Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi could be a candidate here, but the Mets are going to have to compete with teams like the Cubs, Angels and Padres for top candidates.
Sox Spin: I’m not sure what Callaway is going to be looking to do next, but it’s worth mentioning he was the pitching coach in Cleveland before taking this job and the Indians were great on the mound under his leadership. That’s not all on him, of course, as there’s a considerable amount of talent on that staff. Still, all of that being said it’s possible the Red Sox will be looking for a new pitching coach — Alex Cora and company are still making coaching staff decisions — and if they do Callaway could be a name to watch for.