The time has come for the 2020 MLB playoffs, and the two teams with Aussie representatives made it to the postseason after a whirlwind 60-game shortened season.
The Minnesota Twins’ playoff losing streak continued, ending the season for Victorian Lewis Thorpe, although West Australian Liam Hendriks and the Oakland Athletics have won their AL Wild Card series and are advancing for the first time since 2006.
Victorian supporters hoping to catch another glimpse of the standout pitcher on the mound will have to wait until next year after the Twins' dropped the AL Wild Card series to the Houston Astros, extending their painful playoff losing streak to 18 games.
Minnesota finished the season with a 36-24 record to win the AL Central back-to-back.
In his second season with the Twins after making his MLB debut on 30 June 2019, Thorpe pitched 16.1 innings across seven games, with 4.2 scoreless innings in his first two outings. He gave up 24 hits for 11 earned runs with an ERA of 6.06 and 10 strikeouts.
There's still one Aussie left in the postseason picture and that's All-Star and two-time American League Reliever of the Month Liam Hendriks.
The star closer and the Oakland Athletics took a 2-1 win in the Wild Card series against the Chicago White Sox, punching their ticket to the American League Division Series for the first time since 2006.
Oakland was on the brink of elimination after dropping game one with a final score of 4-1, but the A's fought back to win the next two.
The A's set up a winner-take all game three after fighting back to level the series at one apiece, with Hendriks striking out five in game two. Oakland survived a late scare to prevail 5-3 at the Coliseum and snap a franchise worst six-game playoff losing streak.
Oakland scored a pair of runs in the first and second a day after their first 18 batters were retired by Lucas Giolito.
Khris Davis homered in the fifth to make it 5-0 ahead of a late rally by the White Sox.
Yasmani Grandal took Hendriks deep for a two-run shot in the eighth after the 31-year-old closer replaced starter Chris Bassit following a lead-off single to Tim Anderson.
Hendriks punched out Yoan Moncada ahead of Grandal going deep to to right centre field.
The former Perth ABL pitcher punched out Nomar Mazara and Luis Robert to end the eighth after giving up a single to Jose Abreu following the long ball.
Hendriks struck out former Melbourne import Adam Engel and left fielder Jarrod Dyson on the first eight pitches of the ninth.
But he hit trouble in his sixth MLB postseason outing, allowing back-to-back singles before walking Moncada to load the bases. Jake Diekman replaced Hendriks and walked Grandal to make it a two-run ballgame ahead of nailing the final out to set up a game three.
Hendriks finished with five punch outs and allowed two runs on four hits and a walk.
Earlier, the A’s opened the scoring on an error in the first. Matt Olson reached and two runs scored before Oakland doubled its buffer with a two-run shot by Marcus Semien.
Bassitt went seven innings on the mound for the A’s, striking out five and giving up the one run on six hits.
It was Oakland’s first playoff win since game four of the 2013 AL Division Series against Detroit.
Game three saw Hendriks collect the first postseason save of his Major League career, propelling Oakland into an ALDS against fierce rivals Houston.
The A’s topped the White Sox 6-4 at the Coliseum on Thursday to complete a comeback 2-1 series win in the best-of-three AL Wild Card matchup.
MLB POSTSEASON: Bracket, schedule and results
Hendriks allowed a lead-off single to James McCann to start the ninth before striking out the next three batters. He nabbed Yoan Moancada, rookie Luis Robert and then Nomar Mazara to collect his first postseason save in his seventh outing.
Hendriks hit 100 mph a day after a taxing 49-pitch, five strikeout, outing in game two.
Oakland trailed 3-0 after three as it looked to snap a nine-game losing streak in winner-take-all playoff games dating back to game five of the 2000 ALDS against the New York Yankees.
Sean Murphy got the A’s offence going with a towering two-run homer in the fourth. Oakland loaded the bases later in the inning and scored two runs on back-to-back walks to complete a four-run inning and take the lead.
Mazara hit a game-tying single for the White Sox in the fifth. The A’s recaptured the lead on Chad Pinder’s tie-breaking two-run single in the fifth inning and Oakland’s bullpen did the rest.
J.B. Wendelken, Lou Trivino, Jake Diekman, Joakim Soria and Hendriks combined for four scoreless innings of relief to end the game for the A’s.
Oakland will now play the Astros in the ALDS at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Game one is set for next Monday, with the time of first pitch yet to be announced.
MLB ON KAYO
Don’t forget you can get your MLB fix on Kayo, with the Australian sports streaming service bringing you some of the biggest games streamed live each week. Follow along with the postseason action, including some more Wild Card matchups and American League Division Series games.
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