McCoy: Braves blank Marlins; A’s stave off elimination

Atlanta pitcher Ian Anderson fed the Miami Marlins a strong dosage of the same stuff he fed the Cincinnati Reds — a long line of zeros.

Anderson, a well-developed rookie, mesmerized the Reds in Game 2 of Wild Card Series with no runs, two hits and seven strikeouts over six innings.

Anderson used that same mesmerization Wednesday afternoon in Houston’s Minute Maid Park with no runs, three hits and eight strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings against the Marlins.

The game was a microcosm of 2020-style baseball. . .all home runs and strikeouts.

The two teams combined for 21 strikeouts and the Braves used solo home runs from Dansby Swanson and Travis d’Arnaud to post a 2-0 victory. It gave the Braves a two games to none advantage in the National League Division Series.

After Anderson left, the Spic n' Span Atlanta bullpen polished things up the way it normally does. The combination of Darren O’Day, Tyler Matzek, Will Smith and Mark Melancon pitched 3 1/3 innings.

After shutting out the Reds twice, the Braves have spliced together three shutouts in three of their four postseason games.

The Braves took a 1-0 lead when Swanson cracked a two-out home run in the second. It became 2-0 in the fourth when d’Arnaud reached the seats with a one-out home run.

That’s all Miami starter Pablo Lopez gave up in credible five innings — two runs, three hits, no walks, seven strikeouts. But the two long balls did in him and the Marlins.

As the Reds did, the Marlins put a few runners on base but couldn’t break through. The had two on with two outs in the first, but Derrick Cooper lined to right.

Brian Anderson doubled with one out in the fourth and the next two Marlins flied out.

Jon Berti singled with one out in the sixth. After Anderson battled Jesus Aguilar for 10 pitches, he struck him out.

Manager Brian Snitker decided that was enough and replaced Anderson with right handed submariner Darren O’Day.

He quickly hit Anderson with a pitch and walked Cooper to fill the bases. With the new rule that relief pitchers must face three batters, O’Day had to stay in to face left hander Matt Joyce. He lined the first pitch to right field for the third out.

Atlanta third baseman Swanson booted Corey Dickerson grounder, an error to put a runner on first with no outs. Berti lobbed one down the right field line. Dickerson had to hold close to first, fearing right fielder Nick Markakis would make the catch.

Instead, the ball plopped in front of Markakis and he quickly caught the ball on the bounced and ripped a throw to second to force out Dickerson.

***In the American League Division Series it was even more 2020-style baseball as the Oakland Athletics staved of ALDS elimination with a raucous 9-7 victory.

Home runs flew out of Dodger Stadium as if the baseballs were propelled by rocket launchers.

The Athletics hit five home runs and the Astros hit two.

Oakland’s first seven runs came on those home runs, but the decisive run came on a medium-depth fly ball to right field. It was a sacrifice fly hit by Centerville native and Wright State product Sean Murphy. It broke a 7-7 tie in the eighth and gave the A’s an 8-7 lead, a lead they protected.

Over the first five innings, seven of the eight runs came on home runs. Oakland hit four bases-empty blasts and held a 4-2 lead.

Houston owned one solo shot entering the fifth when it hit its second home run, this one a two-run rip by Aledmys Diaz to tie it, 4-4.

The Astros then went old school in the fifth after the Diaz home run, scoring three more on a run-scoring single by Michael Brantley, a run-producing double by Alex Bregman and a run-scoring single by Kyle Tucker.

That 7-4 lead seemed safe, but it certainly wasn’t. Oakland’s Chad Pinder tucked one over the cozy right field corner fence, a three-run connection in the seventh to tie it, 7-7.

Oakland’s four empty-base homers came from Tommy La Stella, Mark Canha, Matt Olson and Marus Semien. Houston’s homer, before Diaz, came from Jose Altuve.

The Astros lead the best-of-five series two games to one.

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