This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
TRUST IN JUSTIN
Justin Verlander and the Astros try to stave off elimination and force a decisive Game 7 in the AL Championship Series when they host the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park (8:08 p.m. EDT). Verlander has won all eight outings with Houston since arriving in an Aug. 31 trade, including his first career relief appearance during the Division Series clincher at Boston. The 2011 AL MVP is 10-5 with a 3.18 ERA in his postseason career, and an 11th win would tie him with Greg Maddux and Curt Schilling for fifth place all-time. Young ace Luis Severino starts for New York in a rematch of Game 2, when Verlander struck out 13 in a complete game and threw a season-high 124 pitches for a 2-1 victory. The Yankees have shown they can adjust, though. Houston’s other Cy Young Award winner, Dallas Keuchel, dominated Game 1 before taking a 5-0 loss in Game 5.
ROAD TO PARADISE
The wild-card Yankees have two chances to win one game in Houston for their record 41st trip to the World Series and first since 2009. After going 51-30 at home during the regular season, the AL’s best mark, New York is 6-0 at Yankee Stadium in these playoffs but only 1-4 on the road. Didi Gregorius and the Yankees did win a decisive Game 5 in Cleveland to take that Division Series, but the home team has won all five games in the ALCS so far. New York just outscored the Astros 19-5 in three straight victories at home but was beaten 2-1 in each of the first two games at Minute Maid Park.
RIGHT BACK TO WORK
Clayton Kershaw is already scheduled to pitch the World Series opener on regular rest Tuesday night, which means he has work to do. The Dodgers’ ace will begin prepping for the Yankees or Astros a day after Los Angeles eliminated the defending champion Cubs in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series for its first pennant since 1988. Kershaw tossed six smooth innings in the 11-1 win and is excited for his first World Series. “It’s been a long time coming for this team,” he said before entering a booze-soaked clubhouse at Wrigley Field.
All-Star shortstop Corey Seager is expected to return for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series after missing the NLCS because of back pain. Seager watched from home as the Dodgers eliminated the defending champion Chicago Cubs in Game 5 on Thursday night. Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said Seager is “doing everything he can to get healthy” and the Dodgers “expect him back for Game 1.”
The Yankees’ top hitters are heating up as October wears on. Once mired in a postseason slump, Aaron Judge is batting .313 with two homers in the ALCS. Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius each had two hits in Game 5. Sanchez was hitless in the series before ripping a go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth inning of a 6-4 win in Game 4. On the flip side, Judge has 24 strikeouts, two shy of the Yankees’ Alfonso Soriano in 2003 for the most in a single postseason.
NEW SHERRIFF IN TOWN?
The Detroit Tigers could be close to hiring a manager. The team was in talks Thursday with former Minnesota skipper Ron Gardenhire, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made. Gardenhire was the bench coach this season for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He managed the Twins from 2002-14. The Tigers are replacing Brad Ausmus after four seasons at the helm. Detroit finished tied for the worst record in the majors this year at 64-98 and faces what figures to be a tough rebuilding process.
CHICAGO (AP) — Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.
Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.
Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs’ title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.
“It feels good to hear World Series,” Kershaw said. “It’s been a long time coming for this team.”
After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball’s most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles’ last championship in 1988.
“Every night it is a different guy,” Turner said, “and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I’ve ever been a part of.”
Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.
Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year’s NLCS at Wrigley Field.
The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year’s postseason, but Los Angeles’ offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez’s powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs — matching Burt Hooton’s club record for postseason wins.
“To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it’s a special thing,” Kershaw said. “Who knows how many times I’m going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I’m definitely not taking this one for granted.”
When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors’ dugout and chanted “Let’s go Dodgers! Let’s go Dodgers!”
On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.
“I bleed Dodger blue just like you,” Roberts said. “Thank you, Tommy.”
Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.
The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez’s seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.
Troy O’Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.
It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.
“For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special,” said Hernandez, who also goes by Kiké. “My body’s here, but my mind’s kind of back home. It’s hard being away from home with what’s going on.
“All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug.”
Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.
Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.
“They executed their plan,” Bryant said. “They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs.”
Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.
Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers’ five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.
Taylor’s versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.
“I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys,” Taylor said. “It’s been an unbelievable year, and I’m just super excited.”
OUT WITH A BANG
Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.
Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
This gallery contains 1 photo.
A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
The Cubs finally broke through for a win against the Dodgers in their NL Championship Series, but now they have to contend with ace Clayton Kershaw in Game 5. Kershaw limited Chicago to two runs over five innings in Game 1, a 5-2 win for Los Angeles. It’s a tough matchup for the Cubs, who are averaging 2.7 runs over nine postseason games — including a 9-8 win over Washington in NLDS Game 5.
Manager Joe Maddon will have work to do managing Chicago’s bullpen. Closer Wade Davis held on for a six-out save in Game 4, but that means the Cubs will have to look elsewhere for the late innings in Game 5. That’s problematic, since Chicago’s other relievers allowed eight runs over the first three games. Of course, Maddon will have to stay in the game long enough to make those calls — he was ejected Wednesday for the second time in the series.
TAKE A BREAK
Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and the slumping Astros get a day off, trailing the Yankees 3-2 in the AL Championship Series. Neither team is planning a workout at Minute Maid Park.
Houston led the majors in batting and scoring this season, but is hitting just .147 overall and has totaled only nine runs in the ALCS. George Springer and Josh Reddick, the 1-2 hitters in the Astros’ lineup, are a combined 2 for 35.
Veterans Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann both spoke to the Astros after a 5-0 loss Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. “Everything is OK. … We have the home-field advantage,” Altuve said. “They did what they have to do, win their home games. Now it’s our turn.”
Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa has left the Diamondbacks’ organization, less than two weeks after Arizona lost the NL wild-card game to Colorado. He served as chief baseball officer in 2015-16 and became chief baseball analyst when the new regime of general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo arrived last spring.
The 73-year-old La Russa won three World Series championships as a manager — two with St. Louis, one with Oakland — worked as an Major League Baseball executive and played in the bigs as an infielder.
CUBS 3, DODGERS 2
CHICAGO (AP) — Javier Baez sensed he was ready to bust out of his slump and give the Chicago Cubs the lift they needed.
As breakthroughs go, this was a big one. Just in time to keep the season going for the defending champs.
Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.
“We have to be much more offensive,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s got to start happening tomorrow. We’re going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow.”
Baez finally got going with a pair of solo drives .
Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to help the Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.
Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.
Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.
Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
“They’re the world champs, and you know they’re going to fight to the end,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So today, they did. We got beat today.”
Baez hit solo drives in the second and fifth after going hitless in his first 20 playoff at-bats. He had been watching videos and felt his timing was starting to come back in recent trips to the plate.
“I just need to take a step back and see what’s going on,” he said.
Contreras added a long homer against Alex Wood.
Davis entered with a 3-1 lead in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff homer to Turner, who went 2 for 2 and drew two walks.
Maddon became incensed that a swinging strike three against Curtis Granderson was ruled a foul after the umpires discussed the play. Maddon got tossed, and Granderson struck out swinging at the next pitch.
And after walking Yasmani Grandal to put runners on first and second, Davis struck out Chase Utley , who is hitless in his last 24 postseason at-bats.
All seven of Chicago’s runs in this series have come on homers. And long drives in the second by Contreras and Baez made it 2-0.
“Great to have this win, because if not we were going home tomorrow,” Baez said. “But I feel like we’re still not on track as a team. But I think if we get back on track, everybody as a team, we’re going to be the best again.”
Contreras’ 491-foot homer banged off the left-field videoboard and Baez sent a towering drive out to left.
Bellinger cut it to 2-1 with his drive to right in the third. But Baez got the lead back up to two with a shot to the left-field bleachers in the fifth, the raucous crowd chanting “Javy! Javy!” for the flashy young star who was co-MVP of the NLCS last year.
No Cubs player had hit two in a playoff game since Alex Gonzalez went deep twice in Game 2 of the 2003 NLCS against Miami.
Arrieta exited with runners on first and second in the seventh after walking Chris Taylor on a 3-2 pitch. He tipped his hat as fans gave him a standing ovation, a fitting show of appreciation for a pitcher with an expiring contract.
“Hopefully, it’s not a goodbye, it’s a thank you, obviously,” Arrieta said. “I still intend to have another start in this ballpark. If that’s where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there.”
Arrieta turns 32 in March and figures to land a huge deal in free agency. The trade that brought him from Baltimore helped fuel Chicago’s rise, with the right-hander capturing the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and contributing to last year’s drought-busting championship run.
Limited by a right hamstring injury in the final month of the season, he threw 111 pitches. Brian Duensing retired Bellinger on a fly to end the seventh.
Turner made it a one-run game with his homer off the left-field videoboard against Davis in the eighth.
A career-high 16-game winner, Wood gave up three runs and four hits in 42/3 innings.
“The only frustrating thing is we fell a run short,” Turner said. “We played a great game, they played a great game. They just hit one more ball over the fence than we did.”
YANKEES 5, ASTROS 3
NEW YORK (AP) — This time, it was Masahiro Tanaka who was untouchable on the mound.
And when the New York Yankees sent Houston ace Dallas Keuchel to an early exit, their rollicking crowd let loose with a cathartic roar that must have boomed all over the Bronx.
“New York is no joke,” Keuchel said afterward.
One more big win, and these Yankees are World Series-bound.
Tanaka pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and New York finally solved a longtime nemesis at just the right moment, beating Keuchel and the Astros 5-0 on Wednesday for a 3-2 lead in the AL Championship Series.
“What a performance,” Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier said about Tanaka. “Just gutsy.”
Gary Sanchez hit an RBI single off Keuchel and later homered to help the wild-card Yankees win for the third straight day at home, moving them within one victory of their first pennant since 2009 and record 41st overall.
The teams head back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night, when Justin Verlander and the reeling Astros will try to regain their footing following an off day and force a decisive Game 7. Luis Severino is scheduled to start for New York.
To take the series, the Yankees knew they needed to win at least one game started by Keuchel or Verlander, both Cy Young Award winners. Now they’ve done that — and they don’t want to let Houston back up.
“Don’t wake that sleeping dog. So we’ve got to just keep on rolling,” Frazier said. “They’re going to be ready to go. We know that.”
Houston arrived up two games to none and appeared to be closing in on its second World Series appearance. But the Astros, like defending AL champion Cleveland before them, have been unable to put away these poised Yankees, who improved to 6-0 at home this postseason in front of their cheering, chanting fans.
New York has won 19 of its past 22 games at Yankee Stadium.
“It’s been unbelievable. I haven’t seen anything like it in Major League Baseball,” veteran Chase Headley said. “Reminds me of college football games. They’re going crazy the entire game. It’s a huge advantage for us.”
Aaron Judge, Greg Bird and Didi Gregorius also delivered big hits as New York chased Keuchel in the fifth and handed him his first postseason loss.
Keuchel had been Yankees kryptonite, entering 6-2 with a 1.09 ERA in eight career starts against New York — including a pair of scoreless outings in playoff wins.
Both of those came at the expense of Tanaka, who lost 3-0 to Keuchel in the 2015 AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium and 2-1 in Game 1 of this series. The ace lefty with the long, bushy beard entered 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 26 2/3 postseason innings overall.
But this night belonged to Tanaka and the Baby Bombers.
New York finally broke through against Keuchel with two outs in the second, when Starlin Castro doubled and scored on Greg Bird’s sharp single. The sellout crowd of 49,647 almost sounded surprised by the hit — big enough for Bird to flash both thumbs down, doubling up on the Yankees’ playful sign to each other for clutch swings.
“The most frustrating part is the fact that I didn’t pick the guys up and they were looking towards me to kind of saddle up and get this thing back going again,” Keuchel said. “That’s a talented group over there and 1 through 9 right now the bats have woken up and it’s quite a challenge.”
In the third, Judge grounded an RBI double just inside the third base line and past a diving Alex Bregman. Brett Gardner sped all the way around from first and scored with a headfirst slide.
Bregman’s throwing error on an infield single by Headley, who had three hits in the No. 9 spot, aided the Yankees in the fifth. Keuchel walked Judge with two outs before Sanchez lined a run-scoring single into the left-field corner.
Going into that at-bat, Sanchez was 1 for 16 with seven strikeouts in the series — and 0 for 8 with six strikeouts against Keuchel overall.
Gregorius then grounded an RBI single up the middle that grazed the glove of diving second baseman Jose Altuve. That ended the night for Keuchel and gave the Yankees a 4-0 cushion, the most runs he had ever allowed against them.
With the stands pulsating, fans reveled in his slow walk to the dugout as the Yankee Stadium sound system blared Scandal’s “Goodbye To You.”
“When you play at home, things like this happen and that’s why it’s so tough to win on the road in the playoffs,” Keuchel said. “Yankee Stadium is a tough place to play and it was rockin’ these three games, but it’s going to be rockin’ on Friday for us.”
Sanchez hit his third postseason homer off Brad Peacock in the seventh to make it 5-0.
Despite beautiful weather in the Bronx, the Astros didn’t take batting practice on the field. If they were hoping that might help their slumping hitters reset, it didn’t.
“One swing and we’ll be back where we need to be,” Bregman said. “We’re going home. We’ve got to fight back.”
The highest-scoring team in the majors this season, Houston is batting .147 in the series and Tanaka is a major reason. The normally reserved right-hander from Japan, who can opt out of his $155 million contract this winter, has been at the top of his game in October and showed rare emotion on the mound during this one.
He worked around a leadoff double in the second, when the Yankees — with a stingy Keuchel undoubtedly in mind — successfully played their infield in with Yuli Gurriel on third and one out in a scoreless game.
Tanaka later spun around and shouted in excitement after striking out struggling table-setters George Springer and Josh Reddick with two on to end the fifth.
“I love it. Those are the best guys. To see that, it gets me fired up again,” Frazier said. “He’s been doing it all postseason. Just dominant, man. You see him out there, he talks to himself, he does all this crazy stuff and the next thing you know the ball just disappears on batters.”
Keeping the ball down with his slider and splitter, Tanaka struck out eight and walked one. Tommy Kahnle tossed two innings to finish the four-hitter.
Tanaka also beat the Indians 1-0 in the Division Series to save the Yankees’ season when they were down 0-2 in that best-of-five playoff. After going 13-12 with a 4.74 ERA during an inconsistent season, he has a 0.90 ERA in three playoff starts.
“I feel like I’m just keeping it really simple,” Tanaka said through a translator. “You go out there and you fight and you empty the tank.”
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
BRING OUT THE BROOMS
One win from their first World Series appearance in 29 years, the Los Angeles Dodgers go for a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Championship Series at Wrigley Field (9:08 p.m. EDT). Los Angeles is 6-0 in this postseason, setting a franchise record for consecutive playoff victories. Another one would give the storied franchise its 22nd pennant. The Dodgers’ only four-game postseason sweep came in the 1963 World Series against the New York Yankees.
HISTORY ON HIS SIDE
With the AL Championship Series tied at two games apiece, Dallas Keuchel pitches for the Houston Astros against Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees (5:08 p.m. EDT). Keuchel is 6-2 with a 1.09 ERA in eight career starts vs. the Yankees, including a pair of scoreless playoff outings. The 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner tossed seven shutout innings and struck out 10 to beat Tanaka 2-1 in Game 1 at Houston. The left-hander has never given up a home run in 57 2/3 innings against the Yankees. “Hopefully, seeing him twice in one series, our guys are able to adjust a little quicker,” New York manager Joe Girardi said.
It’s a matchup of well-rested pitchers when Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood and Cubs righty Jake Arrieta square off in Game 4 of the NLCS. Wood, who had a career-high 16 wins this season, will make his first appearance since Sept. 26. He was lined up for Game 4 of the Division Series, but the Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks in three straight.
“It has its pluses and negatives,” Wood said of the layoff. “I’ve stayed on a semi-regular schedule. I’ve had two (simulated) games in between against a lot of our regular guys in our lineup.”
Arrieta has pitched just 14 1/3 innings since Aug. 30, including four innings of two-hit ball against Washington in Game 4 of the NLDS. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner was hampered by a right hamstring injury at the end of the season.
“I think the leg issue is pretty much behind us,” he said.
Arrieta can become a free agent after the World Series, so this could be his final start for the Cubs.
HOME SWEET HOME
Aaron Judge and the wild-card Yankees are 5-0 at home this postseason heading into Game 5 of the ALCS against the Astros. The winner heads to Houston needing one win to reach the World Series, so Yankee Stadium figures to be rocking again. “Every home game has been special,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I just feel like the fans are back. And I see things that I haven’t in a while, and it reminds me a lot of when I was playing here.” New York has won 18 of its last 21 home games.
Last season, the Cubs eliminated the Dodgers in the NLCS on the way to their first World Series title since 1908. But in the rematch this year, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and their teammates have been shut down at the plate by Los Angeles pitching. Trailing 3-0 in the best-of-seven series, Chicago needs a win to avoid being swept in the NLCS for the second time in three years. “We have three or four Game 7s in a row coming up right now,” manager Joe Maddon said.
Gary Sanchez is expected back behind the plate to catch Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka after backup Austin Romine caught Sonny Gray in Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday. Sanchez was the designated hitter and broke out of his slump with three RBIs, including a two-run double that snapped an eighth-inning tie. New York rallied from four runs down for a 6-4 victory over Houston that evened the best-of-seven series 2-all.
CHICAGO (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers have a tough lineup, a talented pitching staff and a manager making all the right moves.
Yup, it’s beginning to look a lot like 1988.
Yu Darvish pitched sparkling ball into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.
Andre Ethier also went deep and Taylor added an RBI triple in the fifth as Los Angeles improved to 6-0 in this postseason, setting a franchise record for consecutive playoff wins. Yasiel Puig had two more hits in another entertaining performance that included an impressive bat flip — on a long foul ball in the first inning.
“The focus has certainly been heightened in the postseason,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Looking for a four-game sweep and their 22nd pennant, the Dodgers will send Alex Wood to the mound Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with a chance to reach the World Series for the first time since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to the club’s last championship 29 years ago.
Jake Arrieta, eligible for free agency after the season, pitches for the Cubs in what could be his final start with the team.
“I think we’ve won four games in a row before,” Chicago slugger Kris Bryant said. “Obviously, it’s going to be a tougher road. But it’ll make the story that much better. Can you imagine that?”
Los Angeles was eliminated by Chicago in the NLCS last year, but this is a different group of Dodgers. Their patient lineup is coming up big in key spots and the pitching staff is much deeper, especially since Darvish was acquired in a trade with Texas in the final minutes before the July 31 deadline.
Not even a return to Wrigley could get the Cubs back on track after a rough stay in Los Angeles. Chicago manager Joe Maddon juggled his lineup, inserting Kyle Schwarber into the No. 2 slot and benching slumping second baseman Javier Baez, but the defending World Series champions were shut down by another Dodgers starter and more stellar relief from the NL West champions.
“I really didn’t change much approach-wise from first inning until the end of the game,” Darvish said through a translator. “I just kept pitching the same way.”
Making their third straight appearance in the NLCS, the weary Cubs also hurt themselves with a couple of big mistakes. Carl Edwards Jr. walked Darvish on four pitches with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, continuing a rocky postseason for the reliever and leading to a round of boos from a frustrated crowd of 41,871.
A passed ball brought home another run in the eighth, and pinch hitter Kyle Farmer hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-1.
Darvish departed after striking out Addison Russell in the seventh, pausing for congratulations from his whole infield before heading to the dugout. The Japanese right-hander allowed six hits, including Schwarber’s first-inning homer, in his second career playoff win — both this year. He struck out seven and walked one.
Tony Watson got two outs, Brandon Morrow worked the eighth and Kenley Jansen closed it out after Ross Stripling gave up two hits in the ninth. With Roberts pushing the right buttons, Los Angeles’ bullpen has yet to allow a run in the series.
“I think everybody’s just been attacking,” Morrow said. “That’s the No. 1 thing.”
The only four-game postseason sweep for the Dodgers came in the 1963 World Series against the New York Yankees. If Los Angeles can finish off Chicago on Wednesday, the Dodgers would have five days off before hosting the Yankees or Houston Astros in the World Series opener.
“We knew today was the most important game, and now tomorrow’s the most important game,” Ethier said. “We’re going to come out and figure out how to get the job done again.”
Schwarber’s sixth career postseason homer got Chicago off to a fast start, but Jon Jay struck out with two on to end the inning. The Dodgers responded with Ethier’s leadoff drive in the second and Taylor’s second homer of the series in the third, a mammoth shot to center off losing pitcher Kyle Hendricks.
“We had a chance obviously, early,” Maddon said. “We hit some balls well early in the game, and then he settled in.”
Ethier had two hits in his first start of this year’s playoffs after he missed most of the season with a herniated lumbar disk. Taylor also had two hits and is 4 for 14 for the series, helping make up for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager to a back injury.
NEW YORK (AP) — With a soaring shot headed for Monument Park, Aaron Judge got New York back on course for another memorable October.
Yankee Stadium sounds like it’s ready, too.
“That ballpark is alive,” Judge said after this latest rousing rally.
Judge ignited a comeback with a home run , then hit a tying double during a four-run eighth inning to spur the unflappable Yankees over the Houston Astros 6-4 Tuesday night and tie the AL Championship Series 2-2.
The Baby Bombers trailed 4-0 against starter Lance McCullers Jr. until Judge homered leading off the seventh. He tied it with a line drive that nearly left the park in the eighth and scored when Gary Sanchez hit a go-ahead two-run double off loser Ken Giles.
“I didn’t know what to do after I touched home plate,” Judge said. “I can’t describe it.”
The Yankees overcame three errors and have roared back from a second straight 0-2 series deficit — they beat Cleveland in the Division Series by winning three in a row to take that best-of-five matchup.
Aroldis Chapman struck out two in a perfect ninth to cap a three-hitter and get the save . Before a sellout crowd of 48,804, New York improved to 5-0 at home in the playoffs and won for the 18th time in its last 21 home games.
“Every home game has been special,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I just feel like the fans are back. And I see things that I haven’t in a while, and it reminds me a lot of when I was playing here.”
Yankee Stadium will be rocking again when Masahiro Tanaka pitches for New York against Dallas Keuchel in Game 5 Wednesday. It’s a rematch of the series opener, when Keuchel outdid the Japanese right-hander in a 2-1 Astros win.
An AL MVP candidate mired in a sluggish October, Judge sparked the Yankees by chasing McCullers, who baffled the Yankees with his power breaking ball.
Except for the last one.
Judge launched a curveball into the netting above center field’s Monument Park for New York’s second hit.
“I thought Aaron’s home run just lit a little spark,” Girardi said.
Houston manager A.J. Hinch pulled McCullers after 81 pitches, Didi Gregorius tripled off Chris Devenski and Sanchez brought Gregorius in with a sacrifice fly.
Todd Frazier led off the eighth with a single to left, and pinch-hitter Chase Headley, in a 1-for-18 postseason slide, singled. He lost his balance stepping on first, fell en route to second, then took a step back before continuing on and getting his left hand in ahead of Jose Altuve’s tag.
“Just stumbled and stumbled and stumbled and finally went down,” Headley said. “I went from one of the best feelings of my career to one of the worst in just a matter of seconds.”
Headley was awarded second after a video review, and the ballpark boomed when crew chief Gary Cederstrom gave the signal. It got so loud that on-deck hitter Brett Gardner said he “kind of blacked out for a second.”
Gardner brought in Frazier on a groundout, and Judge came to bat with the bundled, buzzing crowd on its feet.
He lunged for a low slider and drilled a double high off the left-field wall as a fan in a longsleeve yellow shirt reached down and touched the ball. Pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury came home with the tying run, and Gregorius grounded a single just beyond shortstop Carlos Correa’s reach to put runners at the corner. Sanchez, who had been 0 for 13 in the series, scored them both with a slicing drive that skipped to the wall in right-center.
“Those guys came up big for us today,” Girardi said.
Judge had multiple hits for the first time since the AL wild-card game against Minnesota. He’s still just 7 for 37 with 22 strikeouts in the playoffs, but he’s 4 for 13 (.308) with three walks in the ALCS. He also homered in an 8-1 Game 3 win.
Judge said he used to dream about postseason at-bats in Yankee Stadium as a minor leaguer.
“The dreams aren’t the same as reality,” he said. “To be out with the crowd and the atmosphere, it was unbelievable.”
The 35-minute bottom of the eighth was the latest stunning comeback for New York, which has overcome deficits of three or more 11 times this year, including in the wild-card game against Minnesota.
Houston had not lost consecutive games since Sept. 8-10 at Oakland and had the major leagues’ best road record during the regular season. The Astros are hitting .153 in the series.
“We’re not going to hit the panic button because we lost two games in a row,” Correa said. “We got Keuchel going tomorrow.”
McCullers cruised in his first start since Sept. 30 and turned over a 4-1 lead to his bullpen.
“He was awesome,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “And really proud of him because I know how important this start was for him.”
Yankees starter Sonny Gray pitched one-hit ball through five innings. His teammates have yet to score for him in four career postseason starts while he’s still on the mound, including twice with New York this year.
Houston took a 3-0 lead in the sixth after George Springer walked leading off and Josh Reddick reached on catcher’s interference by Austin Romine — inserted into lineup for his defense.
Yuli Gurriel lined a three-run double off David Robertson for a 3-0 lead in the sixth and second baseman Starlin Castro misplayed Brian McCann’s seventh-inning grounder for his second error, allowing Marwin Gonzalez to score from second.
Winner Chad Green gave up an unearned run over two innings.
“All of a sudden, the pressure’s back on the other team,” Frazier said. “It’s the best place to play and the loudest place in baseball to play. No doubt about it.”
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
PROFESSOR VS YU
Kyle Hendricks is set to pitch for the Cubs, who are trying to overcome a 2-0 deficit against the Dodgers in their NL Championship Series. Hendricks finished the regular season with a 2.19 ERA over his final 13 starts and opened the playoffs with seven scoreless innings against the Nationals. The Professor, from Dartmouth, has been overpowering at times despite a fastball that averaged just 86.6 mph, third-slowest among pitchers with at least 100 innings this year.
Yu Darvish gets the nod for Los Angeles. The Japanese right-hander tweaked his mechanics after being acquired from Texas in a trade deadline deal, and he’s been dominant with a 98 mph heater this fall. He pitched one-run ball and struck out seven over five innings in NLDS Game 3 against Arizona.
Yankees slugger Aaron Judge had mostly been a no-show in the playoffs before launching a three-run homer against the Astros on Monday, lifting New York to an 8-1 win in Game 3 of the AL Championship Series. The rookie, who led the league with 52 home runs this season, was a combined 2 for 28 with 20 strikeouts in the playoffs vs. Cleveland and Houston until connecting. Judge also made a fine running catch while slamming into the padded right field wall at Yankee Stadium.
LEAN ON LANCE
Houston manager A.J. Hinch picked Lance McCullers Jr. over Brad Peacock to pitch against Yankees right-hander Sonny Gray in Game 4, with the Astros leading the series 2-1. McCullers, an All-Star in July, finished 7-4 with a 4.25 ERA but hasn’t started since Sept. 30 or won since June 24. McCullers was sidelined from July 31 to Sept. 6, his second stint on the disabled list this year due to lower back discomfort, but made his first career relief appearance against the Red Sox in the Division Series. Hinch said McCullers “has some of the best stuff in the big leagues and we believe in him.”
“I’ve been feeling like myself a lot more lately,” said McCullers, who won 5-1 at Yankee Stadium on May 12. “I’m excited to get the ball.”
The Dodgers and Cubs are in the NLCS for a second straight year, but this Los Angeles team looks very different. Justin Turner was the only Dodger to start Game 2 of the 2016 NLCS and crack LA’s starting lineup Sunday. The new faces around him have come up big, though, including fill-in shortstop Charlie Culberson, who is 2 for 5 with two doubles while replacing the injured Corey Seager. NL Rookie of the Year favorite Cody Bellinger has also been a key newcomer, going 3 for 7 in the first two games.
A strength of Chicago’s during the regular season, the bullpen has a 7.03 ERA in the playoffs. Manager Joe Maddon has tried to find creative solutions, including using starter John Lackey as a reliever in Games 1 and 2. Lackey allowed Justin Turner’s game-ending homer Sunday night, and he, Carl Edwards Jr., Mike Montgomery and Hector Rondon all have ERAs larger than 10.00 this postseason. Meanwhile, closer Wade Davis has yet to appear since a seven-out save in NLDS Game 5 against Washington — Maddon was holding him Sunday in case Chicago encountered a save situation.
NEW YORK (AP) — Back in the Bronx, the big guys delivered.
Greeted by an array of “All Rise” signs in a ballpark that fits their style, Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer and made a pair of sparkling catches, leading CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 8-1 Monday night and cutting their deficit to 2-1 in the AL Championship Series.
Todd Frazier hit a go-ahead, three-run homer into the short porch in right field in the second inning against Charlie Morton.
The 6-foot-7 Judge entered in a 4-for-31 (.129) postseason slump that included one home run, four RBIs and 19 strikeouts. The slugger capped a five-run fourth with a laser of a drive to left field off Will Harris and robbed Yuli Gurriel and Cameron Maybin of extra-base hits.
“You see a guy put his head basically through the wall and then dive,” Frazier said. “The ground is going to shake when he hits the ground.”
Sabathia, almost as big at 6-foot-6, allowed three hits over six scoreless innings for his first postseason win in five years. The Yankees stopped a seven-game ALCS losing streak dating to Sabathia’s victory over Texas in 2010 — when Judge had just started his freshman year at Fresno State.
After a pair of 2-1 losses in Houston, the Yankees led 8-0 after four innings.
“Just the energy, the fans,” Sabathia said. “We can kind of feed off their energy.”
New York improved to 4-0 at home this postseason. The Yankees were an AL-best 51-30 at home this season.
“We’re somewhat built for this ballpark,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Houston scored on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth before postseason star Jose Altuve grounded into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded.
Sonny Gray starts Game 4 for New York in the best-of-seven series on 11 days’ rest Wednesday against Lance McCullers Jr.
Frazier got the Yankees rolling, taking an awkward hack at a low, outside fastball and slicing an opposite-field drive over the right-field scoreboard.
“You don’t think it’s going, just because how unorthodox the swing was,” Frazier said.
Judge used his height and long left arm to make a leaping catch with his left shoulder slamming into the right-field wall against Gurriel starting the fourth.
Being a rookie, he politely waited outside the dugout for all the veterans to descend the steps after the third out — as he always does — then capped a five-run bottom half with a laser of a line drive that just cleared the left-field wall.
Then in the fifth, he sprinted into short right for a diving backhand catch on Maybin.
On the first chilly night of the autumn with a game-time temperature of 57, Sabathia relied on the sharp, slow slider that has helped revive the former flamethrower’s career.
Pitching with caution to Houston’s dangerous lineup, he walked four, struck out five and pitched shutout ball for the first time in 21 career postseason starts. During the regular season, he was 9-0 in 10 starts following Yankees’ losses.
“It’s weird, me being 37, smoke and mirrors, getting a shutout,” Sabathia said.
Adam Warren followed with two hitless innings, Dellin Betances walked his only two batters and Tommy Kahnle finished. Houston had four hits, leaving it with just 15 over the first three games, and is batting .169 in the matchup.
Morton was chased after 3 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs and six hits: three infield singles, a bloop single to center, a double that Maybin allowed to fall in left and Frazier’s homer.
“”If you were to show me a video of the swing, show the pitch speed and the location, I would have never thought that,” Morton said. “That was unbelievable.”
A New Jersey native who grew up a Yankees fan, Frazier entered 7 for 18 against Morton with two home runs. With Frank Sinatra’s version of “Fly Me to the Moon” as his walk-up music, Frazier hit not-quite a moonshot, driving a pitch just 18½ inches above the dirt 365 feet with pretty much just his left arm. That gave the Yankees their first lead of the series.
Frazier motioned to his family in the stands and looked at his left wrist.
“I’m pointing to them and saying: What time is it? It’s my time,” he said.
He remembers sitting in the seats at old Yankee Stadium watching Jim Leyritz’s 15th-inning home beat Seattle in the 1995 playoffs.
“It’s such a cool feeling,” Frazier said. “I wish everybody could feel basically what I’m going through.”
Houston loaded the bases with two outs in the third on a pair of two-out walks around Alex Bregman’s single. But Carlos Correa popped out on a fastball in on his fists.
“I know he likes to get his hands extended,” Sabathia said.
Sabathia raised both arms and pointed toward Judge after his catch in the fourth.
“I don’t know what got hurt worse, the wall or him,” plate umpire Gary Cederstrom was heard to say by one of Fox’s microphones.
New York broke open the game in the bottom half. Chase Headley hit a run-scoring infield single — ending an 0-for-28 slide by New York designated hitters in the postseason. Brett Gardner was hit on a leg by a pitch, loading the bases, and Harris came in and threw a wild pitch that allowed Frazier to come home from third.
“Judge did what Judge has done 50-plus times, which is hit the ball out of the ballpark when he gets a pitch to hit,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
ALTUVE’S WEB GEMS
Altuve made two fine stops on Did Gregorius, first a backhand stop on his third-inning grounder and then a shuffle pass to Harris covering first for the final out of the fourth after a hard grounder off first baseman Marwin Gonzalez’s glove.
Girardi, booed by fans after failing to call for a replay in Game 2 of the Division Series, was cheered when introduced.
“It’s a reminder of how quickly things can change in your life,” he said.
Yankees: RHP Luis Severino is on track to pitch a Game 6. He was removed after four innings and 62 pitches in Game 2 because Girardi felt he was “underneath” the ball. Girardi said Severino did not need any tests and is OK.
Asked whether Severino was understanding, Girardi said: “I think two days later, yes, a little bit more.”
“I asked him if he still hated me, and he said, ‘no,'” Girardi added.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
The two highest-scoring teams in the majors this season have combined for all of six runs in the first two games of the AL Championship Series. Houston, which totaled 896 runs to 858 for the Yankees this year, won a pair of nail-biters back home by identical 2-1 scores behind ace pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander. Two wins from the franchise’s second trip to the World Series, the Astros send 14-game winner Charlie Morton to the mound in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium (8:08 p.m. EDT). Morton grew up in nearby Connecticut rooting for the Yankees.
HOLE IN THE MIDDLE
If the Yankees are going to rally in this ALCS, they’re probably going to need more production from their top hitters. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius combined to go 2 for 22 in the first two games of the series, while Astros stars Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa went 8 for 15. Not to mention, Yankees designated hitters are 0 for 27 in the postseason, with Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Holliday all coming up empty. Maybe being back at Yankee Stadium will help. New York went 51-30 at home during the regular season, the best mark in the American League, and is 3-0 there during the playoffs.
RIGHT MAN ON THE MOUND
CC Sabathia pitches for the Yankees as they try to stop a seven-game ALCS losing streak that dates to 2010 against Texas. The 37-year-old lefty went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA during the regular season. But he was at his best when New York needed to rebound, going 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 10 starts following Yankees defeats.
The Dodgers and Cubs will trade sunglasses for long sleeves as their NL Championship Series shifts from Los Angeles to Chicago. Dodger Stadium was 92 degrees for first pitch of Game 2 on Sunday night, and Los Angeles right fielder Yasiel Puig had to battle a difficult setting sun to track a fly ball in the first inning.
Temperatures are projected to dip into the low-50s for Game 3 on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, with first pitch set for 8:01 p.m. local time.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Justin Turner savored every last stride as he followed in Kirk Gibson’s famous footsteps at Dodger Stadium.
The red-bearded slugger from Southern California knew all about the history attached to this home run trot.
On the 29th anniversary of Gibson’s celebrated pinch-hit homer that shocked Oakland in the 1988 World Series opener, Turner added another landmark shot to Los Angeles Dodgers postseason lore.
Turner hit a three-run drive with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.
“One of my earliest baseball memories was being at my grandma’s house and watching that game in ’88 and seeing Gibby hit that homer,” said Turner, who wasn’t quite 4 years old at the time. “So yeah, it feels pretty cool. I thought about doing the fist-pump around the bases, but we’ll wait until we get to the World Series for that, hopefully.”
The dominant Dodgers are two wins away after Turner drove in all four runs in Game 2 to keep Los Angeles unbeaten in the postseason.
He delivered a tying single in the fifth before sending a long shot to center field off John Lackey in the ninth. Completing the poetry of the moment, a fan wearing a blue Dodgers jersey took a few steps onto a walkway and gracefully caught the ball in his glove on the fly.
“It’s very cool, and J.T., we were talking about it in there after the game,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. “Twenty-nine years to the day. It was special. Our guys feel it.”
Another generation of Dodgers fans now has its own historic homer, and these Dodgers are growing increasingly confident they can earn their first trip to the World Series since 1988.
Turner got swallowed up at home plate by another pack of ecstatic Dodgers, just as Gibson did. Unlike Gibson, Turner spiked his batting helmet after rounding third, allowing his unruly red hair to go as wild as the crowd.
“What’s not to enjoy about it?” Turner asked. “We have an opportunity to bring a championship back to LA. It’s been a long time.”
Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Midseason acquisition Yu Darvish starts for the Dodgers against Kyle Hendricks.
Yasiel Puig drew his third walk of the game leading off the ninth, and Charlie Culberson bunted him to second. After losing pitcher Brian Duensing struck out pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer, Chicago manager Joe Maddon went to the bullpen for the 38-year-old Lackey, who pitched on consecutive days for the first time in his 15-year career.
Lackey got the call over All-Star closer Wade Davis, and the veteran starter walked Chris Taylor on six tense pitches. Maddon said he wanted to save Davis for a potential save on the road, and Lackey would have pitched the 10th inning as well if the Cubs did not have a lead.
“Nobody is a really great matchup against Turner, so it just did not work out,” Maddon said.
Turner stepped up and ended it with his fourth career playoff homer. After taking a slight free-agent discount to stay with the Dodgers last winter, he had another solid season before excelling again in October.
The All-Star third baseman is batting .377 with 22 RBIs in his postseason career. He is 13 for 18 with runners in scoring position (.722), including 6 for 8 this year.
And after a collective offensive effort drove the Dodgers to a 5-2 win in Game 1, Turner did it all in Game 2. He has 10 RBIs in the Dodgers’ five postseason games, getting five in the playoff opener against Arizona.
Addison Russell homered in the fifth for the Cubs, who are down early in this rematch of the 2016 NLCS. Chicago won that series in six games after splitting the first two.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen got the win with a hitless ninth despite hitting Anthony Rizzo on the hand with a one-out pitch. That ended the Los Angeles bullpen’s impressive streak of 22 straight Cubs retired to begin the NLCS, but the Dodgers have thrown eight hitless and scoreless innings of relief in the NLCS.
Jon Lester yielded three hits and five walks while failing to get out of the fifth inning in the shortest start of his long postseason career, but the Dodgers couldn’t take advantage of a rare shaky night by the Cubs’ star left-hander.
Rich Hill struck out eight in five more impressive innings for the Dodgers, but he was pulled for pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson in the fifth in a debatable decision by Roberts.
Russell was off to a 4-for-22 start in the postseason with nine strikeouts before the slugging shortstop put a leadoff homer into the short porch in left field.
Turner tied it moments later by poking a two-out single to right after a leadoff double by Culberson, the Dodgers’ improbably successful replacement for injured All-Star shortstop Corey Seager.
The Dodgers chased Lester with two outs in the fifth, but reliever Carl Edwards Jr. came through after several recent postseason struggles, striking out pinch-hitter Chase Utley and then pitching a strong sixth.
Lester was the co-MVP of last season’s NLCS, winning Game 5 at Dodger Stadium and yielding two runs over 13 innings in the series. He had nothing near the same success against the Dodgers’ revamped lineup in this one, issuing four walks in the first four innings and repeatedly escaping jams.
Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward held up Turner in the third when it appeared he could have scored from first on Cody Bellinger’s double to the left-center gap.
Javier Baez, the other co-MVP of last season’s NLCS for Chicago, got to third base in the third with one out, but also was stranded.
Cubs: Hendricks dominated Chicago’s playoff opener with seven scoreless innings against the Nationals, but yielded four runs in four innings during the team’s wild Game 5 victory in Washington. He is starting on normal rest.
Dodgers: Darvish was outstanding in Game 3 against the Diamondbacks, earning his first career postseason victory with seven strikeouts over five innings of two-hit ball. He was acquired from Texas precisely for these moments, and he starts on seven days of rest.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
The Dodgers will have to get through the Cubs without star shortstop Corey Seager in the NL Championship Series. Seager was left off the NLCS roster due to a back injury, a surprise omission announced hours before Saturday’s Game 1 victory at Dodger Stadium. Charlie Culberson, who had 15 plate appearances in the big leagues this season, replaced last season’s NL Rookie of the Year. Culberson had a sacrifice fly and a double in the 5-2 win.
“Obviously, it’s a big blow,” Game 2 starter Rich Hill said about Seager. “That guy’s fought with us the entire year. It’s just an unfortunate thing.”
Yasiel Puig has been on a roll this postseason, and he’s not holding back on celebrating it. Bat flips, fist pumps, tongue wags — he even took a curtain call Saturday, although Dodger Stadium didn’t seem to be demanding one.
Of course, Los Angeles’ energetic outfielder has had reason to rejoice. He got his third multihit effort in four games Saturday, and his curtain call came after his first career postseason homer, a leadoff shot in the seventh inning.
STARTING UP AGAIN
Cubs lefty Jon Lester starts Game 2 of the NLCS four days after an extended relief outing in the Division Series. Lester threw 55 pitches in a 5-0 Game 4 loss to Washington, giving up a run in 3 2/3 innings. Chicago also dropped his NLDS Game 2 start despite his one-run ball over six innings.
He’s not concerned about coming back from the bullpen on short rest.
“I don’t think it’s a problem,” Lester said. “This time of year you have to adjust and figure it out.”
NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
As the ALCS shifts to the Big Apple, the Houston Astros plan to take batting practice at Yankee Stadium during an off day in the series. But the Bronx Bombers won’t work out and will instead take the day off in an attempt to refresh their big hitters. New York struck out 27 times while losing the first two games by identical 2-1 scores to Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are a combined 1 for 14 with eight strikeouts in the series. Game 3 is Monday night, with CC Sabathia scheduled to pitch against Charlie Morton and the Astros. New York has dropped seven straight ALCS games dating to 2010.
ASTROS 2, YANKEES 1
HOUSTON (AP) — With each stinging line drive, Jose Altuve is putting his stamp on this October. Same with every pitch from Justin Verlander, no matter the inning or score.
Houston’s longest tenured player and its durable new ace — an incomparable pair so far this postseason.
Altuve raced home on Carlos Correa’s double in the ninth inning, Verlander struck out 13 in a complete game and the Astros beat the New York Yankees 2-1 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the AL Championship Series.
Correa also homered , but Houston needed a daring dash from the 5-foot-6 Altuve to get Verlander a win. Altuve, an AL MVP front-runner, reached with a one-out single against closer Aroldis Chapman, then sprinted around from first base on Correa’s shot to right-center field. Shortstop Didi Gregorius’ relay beat Altuve to the plate, but catcher Gary Sanchez misplayed a short-hop, allowing Houston’s dynamo second baseman to slide past safely.
“When I saw him running I was like, ‘Oh God,'” Correa said. “And then obviously he beat it out.”
Altuve had two more hits and is 13 for 23 (.565) this postseason after hitting just 4 for 26 (.154) in the 2015 playoffs.
“He’s unbelievable,” Verlander said. “The guy does everything.”
Verlander improved to 8-0 in eight appearances with Houston since agreeing to an Aug. 31 trade from the Tigers, including his Game 4 win in relief during a Division Series against Boston. He has a 2.04 ERA over a postseason-leading 17 2/3 innings.
“When I decided to say yes, these are the moments that you envision,” Verlander said of agreeing to the trade. “You don’t envision going 5-0 in the regular season once you get here, that’s all fine and great, but that’s not why I was brought here. I was brought here to help this team win a championship.”
Verlander set a postseason career best for strikeouts and allowed five hits in his second career complete game in the playoffs. He threw a season-high 124 pitches and retired baby Bronx Bombers Aaron Judge, Sanchez and Greg Bird in the top of the ninth.
“This is such a big moment for our team, but he put us on his back today with his pitching,” manager A.J. Hinch said.
Dallas Keuchel won Game 1 for the Astros — also 2-1 — pairing with Verlander to give the Astros perhaps the best 1-2 punch in these playoffs.
“That was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in my professional career for sure,” Keuchel said. “But that’s why we got him — for his postseason pedigree.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Judge picked up Correa’s hit in right field and threw toward second base. Gregorius fielded there, and his throw beat Altuve to the plate by a few steps. Sanchez just couldn’t squeeze the one-hopper.
“That’s a play I’m used to making,” Sanchez said through a translator. “Really thought I had a chance at making that play there. Unfortunately I dropped the ball and couldn’t make that play.”
The Astros mobbed Correa in shallow center field while Altuve pointed and smiled from near home plate.
Houston took its first ever 2-0 lead in a Championship Series in front of a crowd of 43,193 which included Houston Rockets stars James Harden, Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza in front-row seats. Minute Maid Park buzzed throughout, and fans let out huge cheer when Hinch sent Verlander back out to pitch the ninth.
“No words were necessary,” Verlander said. “It was my game to win or lose.”
Verlander got the first complete game by any pitcher this reliever-heavy postseason and his first nine-inning outing since his Tigers beat the Astros 3-2 on July 30, 2016. This was the seventh time Verlander had 10 or more strikeouts in the postseason, extending his major league record, and his seventh postseason game with 120 pitches or more.
The unshakable right-hander struck out the side in the eighth, and television shots showed fiancée Kate Upton in a pink sequined shirt cheering and clapping wildly as he walked off.
Verlander, Keuchel and two relievers have combined to strike out 27 Yankees in the series.
“They’re making pitches on these kids,” New York manager Joe Girardi said. “And maybe are they trying a little bit too hard? Yeah, of course. But I think everyone out there’s probably trying a little bit too hard.”
Correa’s homer in the fourth off starter Luis Severino sailed just out of reach of Judge and 12-year-old Carson Riley, who was sitting in the front row in right field. The ball bounced off Riley’s glove and into the stands, and Girardi asked for a video review to check for fan interference. Umpires upheld the call.
Riley hopes to get the ball signed by Correa and called the moment: “A really cool one.”
It was reminiscent of a homer by Derek Jeter in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS between the Yankees and Orioles. A 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reached out and deflected Jeter’s hit into the stands, but umpires ruled it a home run.
The 23-year-old Correa is the fifth player ever with five home runs in the postseason before turning 24.
Todd Frazier drove in New York’s run with a ground-rule double in the fifth when his shot to left-center got stuck in the chain-link fence protecting the visitors’ bullpen. Center fielder George Springer tossed his glove in the air several times attempting to knock the ball loose, but never got close.
Severino allowed two hits and a run in four innings. He was hit by a comebacker from Yuli Gurriel on the last out of the fourth, and Girardi said they lifted him as a precaution.
Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson threw two scoreless innings each for New York before Chapman allowed his first run in 18 2/3 innings.
Verlander got out of the third inning unscathed thanks to two big defensive plays. The first came when Josh Reddick made a leaping catch before crashing into the low wall in right field to rob Chase Headley of a hit for the second out of the inning.
Verlander raised his right fist into the air after the catch before pounding it into his glove several times to acknowledge Reddick’s work.
Brett Gardner followed with a rip to the corner of right field, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. Reddick threw it to Correa, whose one-hop to third base was just in time for Alex Bregman to tag Gardner out. He was initially ruled safe, but Bregman was so confident in his tag that he walked off the field as soon as the play was done. Hinch challenged, and it was quickly overturned.
Yankees: CC Sabathia will start Game 3 on Monday in New York. It will be his third start this postseason and 21st career playoff start. The 37-year-old lefty allowed eight hits and six runs — four earned — with 14 strikeouts across 9 2/3 innings in two starts in the ALDS.
Astros: Charlie Morton is scheduled to pitch for Houston in Game 3. He allowed seven hits and two runs in 4 1/3 innings of Houston’s 5-4 win over the Red Sox in Game 4 of the ALDS.
DODGERS 5, CUBS 2
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Although Clayton Kershaw once again failed to dominate in a postseason start, these Los Angeles Dodgers don’t need one guy to carry them.
With a relentless lineup, flawless relief pitching and a collective charisma epitomized by the bat-flipping Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers are still unbeaten in the postseason and off to a strong start in the NL Championship Series.
Chris Taylor hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning, Puig added a homer and an RBI double to his dynamite postseason, and the Dodgers overcame a short start by Kershaw for a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night in the NLCS opener.
“We just tried to set the tone early against the Cubs,” closer Kenley Jansen said. “We understand they’re the defending champions, so they’re a really good team. We understand that we won 104 games, but right now it doesn’t matter.”
Charlie Culberson doubled, drove in the tying run and scored another while replacing injured All-Star shortstop Corey Seager for the resourceful Dodgers, who improved to 4-0 in this postseason.”
With another collective offensive effort and four innings of perfect relief for Kershaw, the Dodgers calmly overcame an early two-run deficit and took the first game of this rematch of the 2016 NLCS, won in six games by the Cubs on the way to their first World Series championship in 108 years.
“It’s two different ballclubs,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “There are some similar players, but I think that the season we had versus the season they had last year, I think that you could parallel those two, and the confidence we have in our group, and they had in their group last year. I just know that this year we’re a very focused group, very confident group.”
The Dodgers hadn’t won the opening game of an NLCS since 1985. Game 2 is Sunday, with Rich Hill starting at home against Chicago’s Jon Lester.
Kershaw pitched five innings of four-hit ball, but the Los Angeles ace fell behind 2-0 before getting pulled for a pinch-hitter during the Dodgers’ tying rally.
After winning 104 games in the regular season and sweeping Arizona in the Division Series, the Dodgers have a lineup and bullpen equipped to handle almost anything. They made Kershaw’s latest laborious postseason start virtually irrelevant, just as they did after he gave up four homers in his 2017 playoff opener against the Diamondbacks last week.
Albert Almora Jr. hit a two-run homer in the fourth, but the final 18 batters failed to reach base for the weary Cubs, still bouncing back from a 10-hour cross-country flight after finishing off Washington in an epic Game 5 late Thursday night.
“Their bullpen is pretty firm, and we have to really get our feet back on the ground,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Puig added another huge offensive game to his recent surge with his first career postseason homer — though in a postgame interview on TBS, he was convinced he had hit one before.
The Cuban slugger also included his usual array of creative bat discards and portentous pauses at the plate.
Los Angeles finally got rolling in the fifth when Logan Forsythe and Austin Barnes drew one-out walks before Puig hammered a double to left-center. The ebullient Cuban slugger headed to second only after flipping his bat and spreading his arms wide at the plate.
Puig’s sky-high homer off Mike Montgomery in the sixth barely got over the fence in left. Puig is 7 for 15 with six RBIs in the Dodgers’ first four playoff games.
“I grew up a little bit,” Puig said. “(I’m) going to home plate having fun, because I know (if) I hit nothing, (if) I do nothing in the game, my teammates are going to have my back.”
Kenta Maeda got three outs and the victory in his latest standout relief effort, and Jansen struck out all four batters he faced for his third save this postseason.
Kershaw’s inability to match his sublime regular-season performances in the playoffs is a central theme of his career. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner won the NLDS series opener last week despite giving up four homers at Dodger Stadium, and Almora’s shot made him the first Dodgers pitcher to yield five homers in a single postseason.
Maddon was ejected in the seventh after a call at the plate was reversed. Culberson initially was ruled out when he attempted to score from second, but was called safe after video review when catcher Willson Contreras was deemed to be in violation of blocking home plate without the ball.
“I saw a great baseball play,” Maddon said. “His technique was absolutely 100 percent perfect. I could not disagree more with the interpretation of that.”
Jose Quintana pitched five innings of two-hit ball for the Cubs one day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane in Albuquerque with a medical ailment. But the Dodgers tied it against him in the fifth and went ahead in the sixth with Taylor’s leadoff shot off loser Hector Rondon.
Despite pitching for the third time in six days after a start and a relief appearance against Washington, Quintana retired 12 of Los Angeles’ first 13 batters.
Seager was left off the NLCS roster due to back pain. The All-Star’s surprise absence deprived Los Angeles of its No. 2 hitter and prompted the club to play Culberson, who had only 15 big league plate appearances in the regular season. But Culberson came through with a series of big plays at the plate and on the basepaths.
Cubs: Lester won Game 5 of the 2016 NLCS at Dodger Stadium. He started Game 2 of the Division Series this year and added 3 2/3 innings of relief in Game 4 on Wednesday, but the veteran lefty compared that relief appearance to normal side work between starts. Lester’s nine career postseason victories are the most among active pitchers except Justin Verlander, who picked up No. 10 in Houston earlier Saturday.
Dodgers: Hill is a former Cubs pitcher with just one career postseason victory, but the resilient veteran regularly comes through in tough situations for LA. He made it through just four innings in Game 2 against Arizona, but yielded only two runs.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
Jose Altuve was a candidate for AL MVP during the regular season and he’s been among the best players in the postseason so far, too. Houston’s 5-foot-6 dynamo had three more hits in a Game 1 win over New York on Friday night in their AL Championship Series. He is 11 for 19 (.579) in the playoffs and has the most hits in a team’s first five postseason games since Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.
BACK TO START
Returning to his usual role as a starter, Justin Verlander gets the ball for Houston in ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Verlander came out of the bullpen to win ALDS Game 4 against Boston, throwing 40 pitches over 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander will be working on four days’ rest since that outing and should be well rested, even if his routine is a little off.
Luis Severino will pitch for New York. The 23-year-old fire-baller is coming off a Game 4 win over Cleveland last round, when he struck out seven and pitched three-run ball over seven innings.
RESTED DODGERS, WEARY CUBS
Los Angeles has been waiting comfortably at home since Tuesday to begin their NL Championship Series, while Chicago enters the opener fatigued and well-traveled. The Cubs finished a 4-hour, 37-minute victory in Washington early Friday morning to clinch their NLDS, then sat on their ensuing charter flight to the West Coast for about 10 hours after a passenger’s medical problem forced a long stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After arriving around lunchtime Friday, they had to skip a scheduled workout to catch up on sleep.
“So we’re going to be tired (Saturday). Who cares?” Chicago manager Joe Maddon asked Friday. “They’re going to be ready to play.”
CALLING ON CLAYTON
The Dodgers turn to ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1, while the Cubs are likely deciding between Jose Quintana and John Lackey but hadn’t announced a decision as of Friday night.
Kershaw won Game 1 against Arizona in the Dodgers’ NLDS despite allowing four solo homers — the left-hander got aggressive in the zone after Los Angeles spotted him a big lead early. In last year’s NLCS against Chicago, Kershaw went seven innings in a 1-0 Game 2 victory but struggled in a decisive Game 6 loss, allowing five runs in five innings to the World Series champions.
ASTROS 2, YANKEES 1
HOUSTON (AP) — Dallas Keuchel faced the New York Yankees in the postseason for the second time and the Houston Astros ace shut them down again.
Keuchel struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings to help Houston to a 2-1 victory on Friday night in the AL Championship Series opener.
“I think it’s just pitch execution, and it’s just been there more times than it hasn’t against the Yankees,” Keuchel said.
Keuchel threw six scoreless innings in a 3-0 win over New York in the 2015 AL wild card game.
He allowed four hits — all singles — and walked one to improve to 8-2 with a 1.09 ERA in eight starts against the Yankees in the regular season and postseason combined. He joined Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott as the only Astros pitchers to reach double digits in strikeouts in a postseason game.
“Late movement — he moves the ball and he commands it well,” the Yankees Greg Bird said.
Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit RBI singles in the fourth off loser Masahiro Tanaka, and left fielder Marwin Gonzalez threw out Bird at the plate trying to score on Aaron Judge’s two-out single in the fifth.
“We had a shot,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “If Bird’s safe maybe we really get to him in that inning.”
Bird homered off Ken Giles with two outs in the ninth, and the closer struck out pinch-hitter Jacoby Ellsbury . Giles, who threw a season-high 37 pitches, escaped a two-out jam in the eighth by striking out Didi Gregorius .
Greeted by MVP chants each time to the plate, Jose Altuve had three more hits and at 11 for 19 (.579) has the most hits in a team’s first five postseason games since Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.
Houston is in the Championship Series for the first time since beating St. Louis in 2005. The Yankees, who overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat Cleveland in the Division Series, lost their sixth straight ALCS game since 2010.
After the Astros totaled eight runs in the first innings of their four AL Division Series games, Tanaka kept the Astros hitless until Altuve’s infield single rolled through the pitcher’s legs in the fourth. Altuve swiped second before scoring on Correa’s single. Gurriel followed with a two-out single, his 10th hit of the postseason.
Bird singled to start the fifth and Matt Holliday, making his first appearance of the postseason, reached when Altuve dropped his slow bouncer to second for an error. Judge singled with two outs and Gonzalez, throwing with such force that he fell to the ground, made a 97 mph one-hop throw to catcher Brian McCann, who tagged the sliding Bird.
“That was their best moment in the game, (I needed) to stop the momentum,” Gonzalez said. “All I was thinking was to go get the ball as fast as I could.”
The call was confirmed in a video review.
“I’m too slow. I wish I was a little faster,” Bird said.
Primarily an infielder, Gonzalez had just two outfield assists in the regular season. He beat his hand into his glove three times in celebration after watching McCann make the tag.
“It’s one of the best throws I’ve ever seen from an outfielder,” Correa said. “Long hop, low tag right there. It was just perfect. Unbelievable.”
Gonzalez threw out Boston’s Mitch Moreland at the plate in the Division Series finale and is the first outfielder with assists in consecutive postseason games since Jim Rice in the 1986 World Series. He joined Lance Berkman as the only players in franchise history to have two outfield assists in one postseason.
After controversially failing to challenge a call in Game 2 of the Division Series, Girardi didn’t hesitate to ask for a review.
“We thought he was out,” he said. “But God knows I’m not doing that again.”
Yankees: Luis Severino will make his third start of this postseason on Saturday. Severino yielded three runs and four hits in seven innings of a win in Game 4 of the ALDS to bounce back after allowing three runs and getting just one out in the wild-card game.
“I feel good, I feel confident in myself,” he said. “I knew that that first start I did, that wasn’t me, and I made adjustments. That’s how we do it; we make adjustments and the second start I put in place those adjustments and did good.”
Astros: Justin Verlander is scheduled to make his 18th playoff start on Saturday. Verlander got the win in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox and picked up win No. 2 of this postseason when he made his first career relief appearance in Game 4. He’s 9-5 with a 3.36 ERA and 115 strikeouts in his postseason career.
Manager A.J. Hinch announced that Charlie Morton will start Game 3 and that Lance McCullers, a starter who pitched in relief in the ALDS, could pitch Game 4. The Yankees will start CC Sabathia in Game 3 and Sonny Gray in Game 4.
A look at the best-of-seven National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers:
Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Saturday, at Los Angeles, 8:08 p.m. (TBS); Game 2, Sunday, at Los Angeles, 7:38 p.m. (TBS); Game 3, Tuesday, Oct. 17, at Chicago, 9:01 p.m. (TBS); Game 4, Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Chicago, 9:01 p.m. or 8:08 p.m. (TBS); x-Game 5, Thursday, Oct. 19, at Chicago, 8:08 p.m. (TBS); x-Game 6, Saturday, Oct. 21, at Los Angeles, 4:08 p.m. or 8:08 p.m. (TBS); x-Game 7, Sunday, Oct. 22, at Los Angeles, 7:38 p.m. (TBS).
Season Series: Dodgers won 4-2.
Cubs: CF Jon Jay (.296, 2 HRs, 34 RBIs, .374 OBP) or 2B-OF Ben Zobrist (.232, 12, 50), 3B Kris Bryant (.295, 29, 73, .409 OBP), 1B Anthony Rizzo (.273, 32, 109, .392 OBP), C Willson Contreras (.276, 21, 74), LF Kyle Schwarber (.211, 30, 59, 150 Ks), SS Addison Russell (.239, 12, 43), RF Jason Heyward (.259, 11, 59), 2B Javier Baez (.273, 23, 75).
Dodgers: CF Chris Taylor (.288, 21, 72, 17 SBs), SS Corey Seager (.295, 22, 77), 3B Justin Turner (.322, 21, 71, 56 Ks, 59 BBs), 1B Cody Bellinger (.267, 39, 97), LF Curtis Granderson (.212, 26, 64, .323 OBP with Mets and Dodgers; .161, 7, 12, .288 OBP in 36 games with Dodgers), 2B Logan Forsythe (.224, 6, 36) or Chase Utley (.236, 8, 34), C Yasmani Grandal (.247, 22, 58), RF Yasiel Puig (.263, 28, 74, 15 SBs).
Cubs: RH Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA; 2.19 in 13 starts after All-Star break), LH Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33, 180 Ks in 180 2/3 IP), LH Jose Quintana (11-11, 4.15 with White Sox and Cubs), RH Jake Arrieta (14-10, 3.53).
Dodgers: LH Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31, 202 Ks, 30 BBs, 23 HRs allowed in 27 starts, 175 IP), LH Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32, 166 Ks in 25 starts, 135 2/3 IP), RH Yu Darvish (10-12, 3.86, 209 Ks, 27 HRs allowed in 31 starts with Rangers and Dodgers), LH Alex Wood (16-3, 2.72 in 27 games, 25 starts).
Cubs: RH Wade Davis (4-2, 2.30, 32/33 saves), LH Brian Duensing (1-1, 2.74), RH Pedro Strop (5-4, 2.83), RH Carl Edwards Jr. (5-4, 2.98), LH Mike Montgomery (7-8, 3.38, 44 games, 14 starts, 3 saves), RH Hector Rondon (4-1, 4.24), RH John Lackey (12-12, 4.59, 31 games, 30 starts), LH Justin Wilson (4-4, 3.41, 13 saves with Tigers and Cubs; 5.09 in 23 appearances for Cubs), RH Justin Grimm (1-2, 5.53).
Dodgers: RH Kenley Jansen (5-0, 1.32, 41/42 saves, tied for NL lead), RH Josh Fields (5-0, 2.84, 2 saves), LH Tony Cingrani (0-0, 4.22, 52 Ks, 12 BBs, 42 2/3 IP in 47 games with Reds and Dodgers; 2.79 in 22 games with Dodgers), RH Brandon Morrow (6-0, 2.06, 2 saves), LH Tony Watson (7-4, 3.38, 10 saves in 71 games with Pirates and Dodgers; 2-1, 2.70 in 24 games with Dodgers), RH Pedro Baez (3-6, 2.95), RH Ross Stripling (3-5, 3.75, 2 saves), RH Kenta Maeda (13-6, 4.22, 1 save in 29 games, 25 starts), LH Luis Avilan (2-3, 2.93, 61 games).
Chicago is making its third straight appearance in the NLCS and looking to knock off Los Angeles for the second year in row. The Cubs eliminated the Dodgers in six games in 2016 on the way to their first World Series title since 1908. The Dodgers shut out the Cubs in Games 2 and 3 behind dominant starts by Kershaw and Hill. But the Cubs took the next three, with Hendricks outpitching Kershaw in a 5-0 win in Game 6 at Wrigley Field. … The Dodgers outscored the Cubs 22-11 in head-to-head meetings this season. … Los Angeles outscored Arizona 20-11 in its NLDS sweep. Turner hit .462 (6 for 13) with five RBIs against the Diamondbacks, and Puig batted .455 (5 for 11). … Lester and Baez were co-MVPs of the NLCS last year. Lester is coming off a strong NLDS against Washington, with a 1.86 ERA in two appearances. He pitched six innings of one-run ball in Game 2. He relieved Jake Arrieta in Game 4 and retired first 10 batters he faced. Baez was 0 for 14 in the NLDS. … Bryant was 4 for 20 with 10 strikeouts against Washington. … After managing eight runs through the first four games of the NLDS, the Cubs closed out the Nationals with a wild 9-8 win. … Wood made two starts against Chicago this season and went 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA. He struck out 12 in 8 2/3 innings. … Kershaw got hit hard in his only start against the Cubs this year, allowing four runs and a season-high 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision on May 28. … Cubs OF Albert Almora Jr. went 4 for 9 in five games against the Dodgers this year. He hit .342 against left-handers this season, making him a tempting start for manager Joe Maddon against Kershaw, Hill or Wood. … Rizzo batted .292 with two homers and five RBIs against Los Angeles this season. The team batting average for the six games versus the Dodgers was .191.
Cubs: That long championship drought for the Cubs seems like ancient history with each passing day. Chicago is the first team with three straight appearances in the NLCS since St. Louis made it four times in a row from 2011-14. It has survived four straight win-or-be-eliminated postseason games, including three straight to end the 2016 World Series. … The Cubs last won consecutive World Series in 1907 and 1908. They are trying to become first team to repeat as champion since New York Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000. … Chicago has played a major league-high 517 games since the start of the 2015 season. The Blue Jays and Dodgers are tied for second at 506 games. The Cubs also lead the majors with 310 wins over that same time span, with the Dodgers in second at 297 victories.
Dodgers: Is this the year? Los Angeles has made it to the playoffs for five straight years and nine times in last 14 seasons, but it hasn’t made it to the World Series since it won it all in 1988. After a first-round sweep against Arizona, the Dodgers are rested and their rotation is lined up for the rematch with the Cubs. … Los Angeles finished with the majors’ best record for the first time since 1974 and will enjoy home-field advantage throughout the postseason. It went 57-24 at Dodger Stadium during the regular season, finishing with five more wins than any other team had at home, and then outscored Arizona 17-10 in its two home wins in the NLDS.
—Turner’s Time. Turner is batting .388 (26 for 67) with three homers and 17 RBIs in his last 19 playoff games. The All-Star third baseman has developed into one of the game’s most dangerous hitters. Holding him in check will be one of Chicago’s top priorities.
—Closing Time. Chicago’s bullpen was shaky against Washington — even Davis. All but automatic during the regular season, the three-time All-Star gave up Michael A. Taylor’s grand slam in Game 4. He got the last seven outs of Game 5 in his longest appearance since 2012. But he yielded a run in the eighth inning before working a perfect ninth.
—Kershaw’s Chance. Kershaw has done it all during his stellar major league career, except lead Los Angeles into the World Series. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner is 5-7 with a 4.63 ERA in 19 career playoff games. He pitched 6 1/3 innings in the playoff opener against Arizona and was charged with four runs and five hits.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
Astros ace Dallas Keuchel opposes Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka in the opener of their AL Championship Series at Minute Maid Park. It’s a rematch of the 2015 wild-card game, when Keuchel dominated a lineup that included current New York regulars Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Greg Bird and Didi Gregorius — that group was 2 for 9 with four strikeouts against Keuchel in a 3-0 loss. Keuchel also stumped the Yankees in a start this May, striking out nine with just an unearned run over six innings.
Tanaka had an up-and-down season but has been riding high of late. After finishing the regular season with a 15-strikeout game against Toronto, Tanaka pitched three-hit ball over seven innings in a 1-0 Game 3 win against Cleveland during the ALDS. The Japanese hurler with the nasty split-finger fastball has a 1.50 ERA over two career playoff starts.
DON’T JUDGE HIM
Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was out of whack in the AL Division Series, going 1 for 20 and striking out a whopping 16 times vs. Cleveland. The rookie led the AL with 52 home runs this season and also topped the majors with 208 strikeouts.
Judge’s slump brought to mind other severe playoff skids. Yankees star Robinson Cano went 3 for 40 in the 2012 postseason and was hitless in 29 straight at-bats. In 1995, big-hitting Reds outfielder Reggie Sanders struck out 19 times while going 4 for 29. Reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant fanned in six straight at-bats for the Cubs this week in the NLDS vs. Washington.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Dodgers star shortstop Corey Seager is getting over a sore back. He didn’t practice during a workout at Dodger Stadium, two days before the NL Championship Series opener at home against the Chicago Cubs. The 23-year-old aggravated his back during the NLDS win over Arizona earlier this week. He’s expected to be OK for Los Angeles in Game 1.
The Cubs beat Washington 9-8 in the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS late Thursday night. Chicago topped the Dodgers in six games last year in the NLCS.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Chicago Cubs win whenever they need to, with whatever it takes, even a seven-out save by Wade Davis to preserve a shrinking lead and a “Did that really happen?” four-run inning against Washington’s Max Scherzer in a thriller of a Game 5.
That wild, bat-around fifth inning Thursday night for Chicago included Addison Russell’s go-ahead, two-run double, a bases-loaded hit by pitch, and a disputed dropped third strike followed by a throwing error, helping the defending World Series champion Cubs come back — and then hold on — to edge the Nationals 9-8.
And for the third year in a row, Chicago reached the NL Championship Series.
“Give the boys credit,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s one of the most incredible victories I’ve ever been part of. I know a lot of people are probably saying the same thing, but under the circumstances, in the other team’s ballpark, after a tough loss at home, to come back and do that, give our guys all the credit in the world.”
Russell drove in four runs and Davis, Chicago’s seventh pitcher, turned in his longest appearance since 2012.
“I’ve always known he’s got a lot of mettle in his soul,” Ben Zobrist, who scored two runs for Chicago, said about Davis. “The guy just shows up. He’s got ice in his veins.”
The same could be said for all of the Cubs.
They trailed 4-1, then led 8-4 and 9-6, in a game that lasted more than 4½ hours and ended after midnight on Friday.
“It was ‘Bizarro World,’ there’s no question about it,” Maddon said. “But it happens. It happens this time of the year.”
Catcher Willson Contreras picked off Jose Lobaton at first base to quash a Washington threat in the eighth and Davis fanned a swinging Bryce Harper for the final out.
“Just trying to stay focused and confident in the end,” Davis said.
Chicago, which surpassed its total of eight runs from the first four games of the NL Division Series, advanced to face the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will start ace Clayton Kershaw at home in Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night.
For Maddon and the Cubs, this was their fourth consecutive victory in a win-or-be-eliminated postseason game. That includes three straight to end the 2016 World Series, when Chicago trailed the Cleveland Indians 3-1 before forcing a Game 7 won by the Cubs in 10 innings.
The Nationals, meanwhile, went one-and-done yet again: This is the fourth time in the past six years that the club won the NL East and immediately lost its opening playoff series. And this is the third time in that span that Washington bowed out with a Game 5 NLDS loss at home; that also happened in 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals and last year against the Dodgers.
This one was played exactly five years to the day after the decider against the Cardinals, which the Nationals lost 9-7 in Washington. Just like that night, the Nationals started Gio Gonzalez. Just like that night, Washington raced out to an early lead (6-0 back then). And just like that night, Gonzalez had control problems and started giving back some of the edge.
“It was a series of bad events,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “It really hurts, you know, to lose like that, especially after what we went through all year long, and that was tough.”
Homers by Daniel Murphy and Michael A. Taylor — whose grand slam off Davis backed Stephen Strasburg’s 12-strikeout masterpiece in Washington’s 5-0 victory in Game 4 at Wrigley Field on Wednesday — gave the hosts a 4-1 lead in the second against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks.
But Gonzalez gave back two of those runs, so it was 4-3 as two-time Cy Young Award winner Scherzer entered for the fifth. He started Game 3 of this series, pushed back because of an injured right hamstring, and hadn’t come out of the bullpen since 2013 with the Detroit Tigers.
“Huge. You look out there and you see Scherzer up there and you think, ‘One of the best, if not the best, pitcher out there on the mound,” Russell said. “You kind of have to change your game plan, your approach.”
By the time Scherzer’s one inning was over, the Cubs had taken a 7-4 lead, and Russell had delivered the biggest hit. Chicago scored two earned runs and two unearned runs, on the strength of three hits, one hit by pitch, one intentional walk, a catcher’s interference, and one very odd play.
What could have been a potentially inning-ending strikeout turned into a run, as Javier Baez swung and missed, but the ball went under catcher Matt Wieters’ glove and through his legs. When Wieters collected the ball, he threw it into right field for an error, then appeared to argue that the play should have been ruled over because Baez’s follow-through carried the bat into the catcher’s mask.
“This game’s cruel sometimes,” Scherzer said. “Just the way things can happen.”
The play was not reviewable under the challenge rules.
“When the ball gets past him,” plate umpire and crew chief Jerry Layne said, “in my judgment he didn’t have any more opportunity after he had a chance to field the ball. There was no further play that could have been made on it.”
“The graze of the helmet didn’t have anything to do, in my judgment, with anything at all, with that particular play,” he said. “I got together and found everybody was in agreement. That’s what we went with.”
Russell made it 8-4 in the sixth on an RBI double when left fielder Jayson Werth tried to make a sliding catch but whiffed.
Werth said he lost the ball in the lights.
“It feels,” he said, summing up the night for Washington, “like if it could go wrong, it did.”
The lead was 9-6 when Washington got one run in the seventh on Harper’s sacrifice fly, and one in the eighth on Taylor’s RBI single.
But the Nationals wasted some opportunities. In the eighth, with two on and no outs, pinch-hitter Adam Lind hit into a double play. Later in that inning, again with two men aboard, Lobaton was nailed by Contreras’ snap throw for the third out — Lobaton was originally ruled safe, a call that was overturned on replay.
In the seventh, Ryan Zimmerman was up as the go-ahead run with two men on, but Davis struck him out. That was part of an 0 for 4, three-K night for the first baseman who had a resurgent season, leading the Nationals with 36 homers and 108 RBIs.
That season is over for him and his team. The Cubs, though, will play on.
“We’ve been through it. And in those situations, we tend to start believing we’re going to get the job done,” Zobrist said, “even if it doesn’t look like we are.”
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
GOING THE DISTANCE
It’s a win-or-go-home Game 5 in the NL Division Series between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals at 8:08 p.m. EDT. Kyle Hendricks pitches for the World Series champion Cubs after beating Stephen Strasburg 3-0 in the opener. Washington manager Dusty Baker was non-committal when asked about his starter, with Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark the most likely candidates.
Back home after saving their season Wednesday with a 5-0 win at Wrigley Field behind Strasburg, the NL East champions have a chance to avenge years of playoff heartache. The Nationals also made it to the playoffs in 2012, 2014 and 2016 and fell in the first round each time, including five-game losses to St. Louis in 2012 and the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.
“Once you get out there, that stuff doesn’t really matter,” said Michael A. Taylor, who hit a grand slam for Washington late in Game 4. “What we did last year doesn’t help or hurt us once we’re in between the lines.”
The winner heads for Los Angeles to play the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series beginning Saturday.
READY AND WAITING
Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros are staying home to start the AL Championship Series. They will face the wild-card New York Yankees, who advanced Wednesday night with a 5-2 victory at Cleveland in Game 5 of their Division Series. Game 1 is Friday night in Houston. Dallas Keuchel is scheduled to start for the Astros, who went 5-2 against New York during the regular season. Houston reached the best-of-seven ALCS by eliminating Boston in Game 4 on Monday. Altuve batted .533 in four ALDS games against the Red Sox.
The Boston Red Sox are looking for a new manager after firing John Farrell on Wednesday following the team’s second consecutive loss in the AL Division Series. The team announced the move less than 48 hours after it was knocked out of the playoffs with a 5-4 loss to Houston. Farrell managed the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2013, his first season in charge, and his contract had been scheduled to run through the 2018 season. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said the team plans to move swiftly on its next hire and the next manager would “most likely not” be a member of Farrell’s current coaching staff. Dombrowski said it would be important to be comfortable in front of media and relatable to the team’s current young core.
CLEAN IT UP
If the Cubs are going to win at Washington in the deciding Game 5 of their NL Division Series, they may need to tighten up their defense. Chicago has committed seven errors in the first four games of the series. In addition, 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant looks to bounce back from a tough day in Game 4, when he struck out four times as the defending champs went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
CLEVELAND — Breaking down Game 5 of the ALDS between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
Yankees 5, Indians 2: Yankees win series 3-2. The Yankees captured the winner-take-all game against the favored Indians to advance to the American League Championship Series where they will face the Houston Astros. Game 1 is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. ET on Friday at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The Yankees rallied to win the series after losing the first two games.
The game: Didi Gregorius hit home runs in each of his first two plate appearances, both off Indians ace Corey Kluber, to give the Yankees an early lead.
Gregorius hit a solo shot with two outs in the first inning to open the scoring then increased the Yankees’ lead to 3-0 with a two-run homer in the third. Gregorius was just 1-for-13 in the series through the first four games, though he had drawn six walks.
Gregorius and Brett Gardner each had three of the Yankees’ eight hits.
Kluber allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings while taking the loss. He also was tagged for six runs in 2 2/3 innings in Game 2, though he did not factor in the decision as the Indians rallied to win in 13 innings.
The poor ALDS performance came on the heels of Kluber having an 18-4 record with a 2.25 earned run average in 29 regular-season starts when he led the AL in ERA and tied for the league lead in wins. He is considered the favorite to win the AL Cy Young Award, which is voted on before postseason play begins.
The Yankees add two insurance runs in the ninth inning off closer Cody Allen to make it 5-2 when Gardner hit an RBI single and a second run scored when right fielder Jay Bruce bobbled the ball for an error.
Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia took a shutout into the fifth inning before giving up four straight singles with one out. He was removed after Roberto Perez and Giovanny Urshela, the bottom two hitters in the Indians’ batting order, had consecutive RBI hits to make it a one-run game.
David Robertson relieved and got Francisco Lindor to hit into an inning-ending double play. Robertson pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the win and Aroldis Chapman got the last six outs for the save.
Yankees rookie right fielder Aaron Judge had a rough night, going 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. He set a postseason record for most strikeouts in a series with 16 while managing only one hit in 20 at-bats.
State of the Yankees: They advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2012 when they were swept by the Detroit Tigers in four games. The Yankees were 2-5 against the Astros in the regular season.
State of the Indians: Their season comes to a disappointing end in which their 102-60 record was the best in the AL and they set with a league record with a 22-game winning streak. The Indians remains without a World Series title since 1948 and it will be wait ‘til next year again before they open the 2018 season March 29 against the Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle.
Pivot point: Robertson made the biggest pitch of the game when he got Lindor to hit into the double play. The air came right out of the Indians — and the crowd of 37,802.
Man of the moment: Robertson. The right-hander got the big double play and wound pitching 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the victory. He struck out two, walked one and did not allow a hit.
What you missed on TV: An Indians’ fan in the lower concourse was wearing a Cory Snyder jersey. Snyder and teammate Joe Carter were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s baseball preview issue in 1987 as the magazine predicted the Indians to win the World Series. The Indians finished with a record of 61-101 that season. Thirty years, the franchise is still seeking its first title since 1948. Maybe the Snyder jersey jinxed the Indians.
CLEVELAND (AP) — These young Yankees were unshaken, resilient and as tough as the city they represent.
The baby Bronx Bombers have grown up fast.
Didi Gregorius, following in the October footprints left by Derek Jeter, homered twice off Corey Kluber as New York beat the Cleveland Indians 5-2 in Game 5 on Wednesday night to complete its comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the Division Series and dethrone the AL champions.
The bend-but-don’t-break Yankees, way ahead of schedule, staved off elimination for the fourth time in this postseason and advanced to play the Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series starting Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
With a blend of young stars and older veterans coming up big, the Yankees rocked Cleveland and bailed out manager Joe Girardi, who failed to challenge a key call in a Game 2 loss that threatened to sabotage New York’s season.
“These guys had my back and they fought and fought,” Girardi said. “They beat a really good team. What those guys did for me, I’ll never forget it. “
The Yankees went 2-5 against the AL West champion Astros, led by 5-foot-6 dynamo and MVP candidate Jose Altuve. But none of that matters now to this group of New Yorkers.
After winning twice at home, and after Girardi said he “screwed up” and felt horrible about it, the Yankees — with little offensive help from rookie star Aaron Judge — came into Progressive Field and finished off the Indians, who won 102 games during the regular season, ripped off a historic 22-game winning streak and were favored to get back to the World Series after losing in seven games a year ago to the Chicago Cubs.
Cleveland’s Series drought turns 70 next year — baseball’s longest dry spell.
“Nobody wanted the season to be over,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It doesn’t wind down, it comes to a crashing halt. It’s disappointing. We felt good about ourselves. We made it harder to win, especially in the last two games.”
The Indians closed to 3-2 in the fifth against starter CC Sabathia before David Robertson pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings for the win. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who faced Cleveland in last year’s spine-tingling World Series and signed an $86 million free agent contract in December, worked two innings for the save.
Chapman went to the mound with a three-run lead in the ninth after Brett Gardner battled Cody Allen for 12 pitches before hitting an RBI single, with New York’s fifth run scoring when Todd Frazier raced home on right fielder Jay Bruce’s throwing error.
Gardner’s gritty at-bat was symbolic of these Yankees. They wouldn’t give in.
“We can win a lot of different ways,” Gardner said.
When Austin Jackson was called out on strikes to end it, the Yankees rushed to the mound to celebrate with a wide-eyed Chapman. An elated Girardi hugged his coaches.
On Friday, Girardi was crestfallen, afraid he had wrecked the season.
“After Game 2, Joe came up to me in this same spot (outside the manager’s office) and said, ‘Hey, man. I’m sorry,'” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “I told him, ‘We just have to keep battling. Nothing is over yet.’ No one on the plane home thought it was over at all.”
The Yankees became the 10th team to overcome a 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-five playoff series. New York also did it in 2001, rallying to beat Oakland — a series remembered for Jeter’s backhand flip to home plate.
Gregorius, who took over at shortstop following Jeter’s retirement after the 2014 season, hit a solo homer in the first off Kluber and added a two-run shot in the third off Cleveland’s ace, who didn’t look like himself during either start in this series.
One win shy of a Series title last year, the Indians had only one goal in mind in 2017.
They came up short again, and have now lost six consecutive games with a chance to clinch a postseason series. The skid dates to last year’s World Series, when they squandered a 3-1 lead to the Cubs.
Cleveland is the first team in history to blow a two-game series lead in consecutive postseasons.
Everything was set up for the Indians: Kluber on the mound, Game 5 at home, sensational setup man Andrew Miller rested.
The Yankees, though, wouldn’t be denied. They battled back from a 3-0 deficit in the first inning of their wild-card game against Minnesota and then had to overcome a crushing loss in Game 2, when Girardi’s decisions led to him being booed at Yankee Stadium.
But these Yankees displayed pinstriped pride and pulled Girardi off the hook.
“I had a hole in my heart for about five or six days,” he said.
It’s healed now.
The Yankees advanced without much help from Judge, who struck out four times in Game 5 and went 1 for 20 (.050) in the series with 16 strikeouts — an ALDS record. But the 6-foot-7 rookie might have saved New York’s season in Game 3, when he reached above the right-field wall to rob Francisco Lindor of a two-run homer in a 1-0 win. “I didn’t do my job at the top of the order, but my teammates came up big for me,” Judge said.
Kluber was one of baseball’s most consistent pitchers all season, winning 18 games and leading the AL with a 2.25 ERA.
However, October was cruel to the right-hander. He allowed nine runs, including four homers, over 6 1/3 innings in two postseason starts, hardly what he or the Indians expected.
Kluber overcame a back issue earlier this season and it flared up this fall.
“He’s fighting a lot,” Francona said. “I think you also have to respect the fact that guy wants to go out there and he’s our horse. And sometimes it doesn’t work.”
The Indians batted .171 as a team with All-Stars Francisco Lindor (2 for 18) and Jose Ramirez (2 for 20) unable to snap out of funks.
Gregorius set a franchise record for home runs in a season by a shortstop with 25, one more than Jeter hit in 1999 when No. 2 led the Yankees to a second straight World Series title.
Gregorius got New York off to an ideal start, homering with two outs in the first when Kluber grooved a fastball. The shot deep into the seats in right raised the anxiety level to an already jittery Cleveland crowd fearing the worst.
CHICAGO (AP) — Stephen Strasburg gave Washington everything he had, and it was more than enough.
So much for all those questions about heart and character.
Strasburg shook off an illness and pitched seven dominant innings, Michael A. Taylor hit a late grand slam and the Nationals beat the Chicago Cubs 5-0 on Wednesday to send their NL Division Series to a decisive Game 5.
“I just focused on one pitch at a time and going as long as I could,” Strasburg said.
Moments after Sean Doolittle closed out Strasburg’s first career playoff win, the focus shifted to the final game of the series in Washington on Thursday night. Kyle Hendricks starts for the World Series champion Cubs after throwing seven sharp innings in a 3-0 victory over Strasburg in Game 1.
Washington manager Dusty Baker was non-committal when asked about his starter, with Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark the most likely candidates.
“You know, whoever it is, I hope they pitch like Stras did today,” Baker said.
Strasburg got sick after his terrific performance in the playoff opener on Friday, and the Nationals had planned to go with Roark even after a persistent rain washed out Game 4 on Tuesday. That led to a flurry of comments and criticism about whether the ace had the right stuff to pitch in big moments.
But Strasburg felt better when he woke up Wednesday and told Baker he wanted the ball. That was all Baker needed to hear.
“I could see the focus and determination in his eyes, you know what I mean, when he came in the office and we talked to him,” the manager said. “You know, he’s a man of few words, but the words he said, you know, gave us every indication that he was ready.”
Standing tall as clouds of mist rolled through Wrigley Field, Strasburg struck out 12 , allowed three hits and walked two. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft has 22 Ks in 14 innings in the series, allowing only a pair of unearned runs in the sixth in the opener.
“I like to think that any game that I pitch is the most important game,” Strasburg said. “That’s just how I tried to go into Game 4, and now we get a chance for a Game 5.”
Chicago wasted a gutsy performance from Jake Arrieta and solid relief by Game 2 starter Jon Lester in its first home playoff loss since Game 4 of the World Series last year. NL MVP Kris Bryant struck out four times, and the defending champs went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
“We just have to be offensively a little bit better tomorrow,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They have been really good. We have been really good. Listen, they got a grand slam. Otherwise, it’s kind of like the same game both sides.”
Arrieta walked five in four innings in his return from a hamstring injury, but limited Washington to an unearned run and two hits. Lester got the Cubs all the way to the eighth, picking off Ryan Zimmerman before departing after Daniel Murphy’s two-out single.
But Chicago’s bullpen faltered from there. Carl Edwards Jr. walked two in a row and threw ball one to Taylor before he was replaced by Wade Davis. Taylor then drove a 1-1 pitch into the basket overhanging the brick wall in right field for his first career homer in the playoffs.
“I was kind of numb, just running around the bases,” Taylor said. “Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to get out the way the wind was blowing in.”
Ryan Madson worked the eighth and Doolittle finished the three-hitter, giving the NL East champions a chance to avenge years of playoff heartache.
Washington also made it to the playoffs in 2012, 2014 and 2016 and fell in the first round each time, including five-game losses to St. Louis in 2012 and Los Angeles last season.
“Once you get out there, that stuff doesn’t really matter,” Taylor said. “What we did last year doesn’t help or hurt us once we’re in between the lines. We’ll just go out there and play our game.”
The Nationals jumped in front in the third, taking advantage of a Chicago error for the second straight game. Trea Turner doubled with one out for his first hit of the series and advanced on a wild pitch. Jayson Werth struck out looking before Arrieta walked Bryce Harper, putting runners on the corners.
Zimmerman followed with a slow roller to shortstop. Addison Russell charged the ball, but he couldn’t bring it in.
It was Chicago’s sixth error of the series, and reliever Brian Duensing picked up another one on an errant throw in the ninth. Left fielder Kyle Schwarber committed two errors on one play in Game 3, setting up Washington’s only run in a 2-1 loss.
“It’s two heavyweights going at it,” Lester said. “We’re going to the last round. We’re going to figure it out. We’ve got Game 5 so it should be exciting TV. It should be exciting in our clubhouse.”
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PHATZRADIO SPORTS / AP) —- A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
It’s all or nothing when the Cleveland Indians host the New York Yankees in the decisive Game 5 of the AL Division Series (8:08 p.m. EDT). Corey Kluber, considered the favorite for the AL Cy Young Award, starts for Cleveland and tries to atone for getting hit hard in Game 2. CC Sabathia pitches for the wild-card Yankees.
The Indians won twice at Progressive Field last week, then lost twice at Yankee Stadium — they haven’t dropped three in a row since Aug. 1. Slugger Edwin Encarnacion could return to the Cleveland lineup for the first time since spraining his ankle in Game 2.
The winner meets Houston in the AL Championship Series, set to begin Friday.
The World Series champion Cubs try to wrap up their NL Division Series with a win over Washington in Game 4 at Wrigley Field (4:08 p.m. EDT). The teams were rained out Tuesday, and early showers are in the forecast.
Tanner Roark is set to pitch for the Nationals. Manager Dusty Baker said ace Stephen Strasburg, who could’ve worked on regular rest with his team trailing 2-1, isn’t going to start “because he’s feeling under the weather, like a lot of my team is.”
Jake Arrieta starts for Chicago in his return from a right hamstring injury. He has pitched just 10 1/3 innings since Aug. 30.
The Dodgers are back home, preparing to play either the Cubs or Nationals in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series on Saturday. The matchup at Dodger Stadium will mark the fifth NLCS in 10 years for Los Angeles.
The sweep over Arizona in the division series lets the Dodgers set up their rotation exactly how they want. Ace Clayton Kershaw can start the opener on seven days’ rest, with Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and Alex Wood all ready to follow.
BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox fired manager John Farrell on Wednesday after the team’s second straight loss in the AL Division Series.
The Red Sox announced the move less than 48 hours after they were eliminated from the playoffs with a 5-4 loss to the Houston Astros. Farrell’s contract had been scheduled to run through the 2018 season.
Boston won back-to-back American League East titles for the first time in franchise history this season despite losing the bat of retired slugger David Ortiz. It also did it despite starting the season with $217 million pitcher David Price on the disabled list and watching as 2016 Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello stumbled to an 11-17 record.
Farrell managed the team to its eighth World Series title in 2013, his first season. But he found himself under a harsh spotlight each of the last two seasons after exits in the division series of the postseason.
Farrell went 432-378 over five seasons with Boston. He managed Toronto for two seasons before that and went 154-170.
Farrell said after losing to the Astros that the team didn’t meet its goals but had some good young players continue to develop.
“We had a number of challenges thrown our way from individual injuries to performance,” he said. “But as a team they stuck together.”
The offense slumped after Ortiz retired, even though the team had baseball’s third-highest payroll. Several players also struggled with health issues, including second baseman Dustin Pedroia and pitcher Drew Pomeranz.
Farrell began his coaching career with Boston as a pitching coach from 2007-2010. He was part of the team’s 2007 World Series title.
With their win Monday, the New York Yankees overcame an two-game deficit and forced a winner-take-all Game 5 against the Cleveland Indians.
Since the wild-card format began in 1995, the comeback from a 2-0 deficit has been completed six times in the Division Series, most recently by the Toronto Blue Jays against the Texas Rangers in 2015.
The Yankees have already been on both ends, blowing a 2-0 lead in 1995 and winning the series after falling in that hole in 2001.
As both clubs get ready for a winner-take-all Game 5 Wedneday night at Progressive Field, here’s a look at the 2-0 comebacks in the wild-card era:
In the first year of the current Division Series format, the Mariners rallied back after dropping the first two games of the series at Yankee Stadium. In a thrilling Game 5, Seattle scored twice in the eighth to tie it against David Cone, who finished with 147 pitches. The Yankees scored in the top of the 11th, but Edgar Martinez’s walk-off double scored Joey Cora and Ken Griffey Jr. to send the Mariners through.
The Red Sox won Games 3 and 4 in Boston, including a 23-7 blowout in Game 4. There was no off day before the decisive Game 5 and the Indians jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the second inning. Pedro Martinez had exited Game 1 with a back injury, but Red Sox manager Jimy Williams brought in his ace in the bottom of the fourth. Martinez tossed six hitless innings, striking out eight in the eventual 12-8 win.
Derek Jeter’s “Flip” in Game 3 swung the momentum in the series, as the Yankees knocked out the 102-win A’s.
This series had a number of memorable moments, from Ramon Hernandez’s walk-off squeeze bunt in Game 1 to Eric Byrnes missing home plate in Game 3 and concluding with Johnny Damon’s scary collision with shortstop Damian Jackson in Game 5. Boston’s win set up the historic seven-game ALCS against the Yankees.
The road team won every game in this series, with the Giants ending up on top. Game 4 featured two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum getting the win in relief, setting up a Game 5 that saw Buster Posey’s grand slam break things open, as the Giants ended up marching to their second title in three seasons.
Game 5 was one of the best contests in recent memory, leaving Jose Bautista’s bat flip as the lasting image. The seventh inning of the decisive game lasted almost an hour, featuring a bizarre incident in the top of the inning that saw the Rangers score a run when Russell Martin’s throw back to the pitcher deflected off Shin-Soo Choo’s bat. Three consecutive Texas errors in the bottom of the inning set up Bautista’s monster home run.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
Cubs fans are hoping to go wild as the World Series champions try to close out Washington in Game 4 of the NLDS. Rain is in the forecast and Jake Arrieta is set to start for Chicago — he hasn’t pitched since lasting just three innings Sept. 26 after tweaking his hamstring three weeks earlier.
Tanner Roark starts for the Nationals with his team trailing 2-1. He is from Wilmington, Illinois, about 60 miles south of Chicago, and grew up rooting for the Cubs. He is 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA in five career games at Wrigley Field.
Justin Verlander and the Astros earned a little extra rest by beating Boston in four games of the AL Division Series. They’ll now wait to see where they open the AL Championship Series on Friday, either at Cleveland or at home vs. the Yankees. Dallas Keuchel is lined up to start the opener for Houston. Verlander threw 40 pitches Monday in his first pro relief appearance, helping win Game 4 at Fenway Park.
After a second straight early playoff exit, Red Sox manager John Farrell enters the offseason facing questions about his job security. Boston has won consecutive AL East titles — a first for the franchise — but hasn’t been past the ALDS since winning the World Series in 2013, Farrell’s first season. Farrell insisted Monday that he’s the right man to get the Red Sox over this current postseason stumbling block.
“Yes, I feel confident in that,” Farrell said. “I know that we have got opportunity to access where we are as a team. I can’t begin to talk about what the offseason plans are, and what changes may be realized, but there’s still good things that are going on here.”
CUBS 2, NATIONALS 1
CHICAGO (AP) — Moments after his go-ahead hit, Anthony Rizzo walked across the infield at frenzied Wrigley Field and shouted “Respect me! Respect me!”
A year after their historic championship, Rizzo and the Chicago Cubs are fighting for another memorable October.
Rizzo blooped a tiebreaking single into left field with two outs in the eighth and the Cubs overcame Max Scherzer’s brilliant performance to beat the Washington Nationals 2-1 on Monday for a 2-1 lead in their NL Division Series.
The Nationals had a base open with Rizzo coming to the plate and pinch runner Leonys Martin on second, but manager Dusty Baker elected to pitch to the slugger with Willson Conteras on-deck. Oliver Perez came in and Rizzo looped his first pitch into shallow left-center, finding a patch of grass between three Washington fielders.
Rizzo stumbled after he took a big turn around first and was tagged out to end the inning, but he didn’t seem to care too much, demanding veneration as the Cubs came out of the dugout for the ninth.
“I want to make guys pay,” Rizzo said. “I hit where I hit in the order. I drive in runs, and that’s just the mentality that I always take in. Usually I keep that stuff behind the scenes and say that stuff, but just my emotions got me there.”
Baker had a different viewpoint. Asked if Rizzo, who drove in two runs in each of the first two games of the series, seems like a player who gets hits at key moments in the playoffs, Baker responded: “Well, yeah, I guess. I mean, it’s not really turning it on when you bloop one in there, you know what I mean?”
Scherzer was dominant in his return from a right hamstring injury, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh. But just like in Game 1, when Chicago was held hitless into the sixth by Stephen Strasburg, the World Series champion Cubs showed off their resilience on the way to a stirring victory.
Game 4 of the best-of-five series is Tuesday. Jake Arrieta returns from his own hamstring injury for the Cubs, while Tanner Roark gets the ball for the Nationals.
“We’ve got to attack. We’ve got to be in attack mode,” Rizzo said. “There’s no relaxing just because we’re up in the series.”
Chicago committed four errors, including two by left fielder Kyle Schwarber on one ugly play, and Jason Heyward also made an uncharacteristic baserunning mistake. But the Cubs got a huge pinch-hit RBI single from Albert Almora Jr. and a solid pitching performance from Jose Quintana in the return of postseason baseball to Wrigley after last year’s World Series ended in Cleveland.
After Rizzo’s big hit, All-Star Wade Davis retired three in a row for his second save of the series. Jayson Werth popped out to Rizzo to end the game.
“We made mistakes,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We made some errors, but then we made some great plays.”
Scherzer struck out seven before he was pulled after Ben Zobrist doubled to left-center on his 98th pitch for Chicago’s first hit with one out in the seventh. With Washington clinging to a 1-0 lead, Baker opted for left-hander Sammy Solis, who had a 5.88 ERA during the regular season, and Maddon countered by sending Almora to hit for the lefty-batting Schwarber.
“I know you guys are probably going to second-guess that but these guys are here to make a decision,” Scherzer said. “When they made that decision I wasn’t going to override anybody. These are pressure-packed situations. They’ve done their homework and they’ve done their job to come up with the best scenario in that situation. I understand it.”
Mark this one down for Maddon, who drew some criticism after he allowed Carl Edwards Jr. to pitch to Bryce Harper in the eighth in Game 2 and the slugger responded with a two-run homer.
Almora lined a 3-2 pitch into left-center for his first career postseason hit in 15 at-bats. Almora yelled and pounded his chest after rounding first and the crowd of 42,445 cheered wildly.
“When I got my chance, I did it for the whole team, but mostly for Quintana and Schwarber,” Almora said.
While Scherzer mowed down the Cubs, Quintana worked on his own gem in his first career playoff appearance. Helped by terrific running grabs by Heyward in right and Jon Jay in center, the left-hander carried a two-hit shutout into the sixth.
With two outs in the inning, Daniel Murphy lofted a fly ball to left that Schwarber dropped and then flubbed again when he tried to pick it up. The two errors put Murphy on third, and Maddon was booed as he went to the mound to pull Quintana in favor of Pedro Strop.
Ryan Zimmerman followed with an RBI double into the gap in right-center, giving Washington the lead. The All-Star slugger also had one of the big blows in Game 2, hitting a tiebreaking three-run homer in the Nationals’ 6-3 victory.
ASTROS 5, RED SOX 4
BOSTON (AP) — Justin Verlander came out of the bullpen for the first time in his career, beating Chris Sale in an aces-turned-relievers role reversal on Monday and the Houston Astros advanced to their first AL Championship Series by rallying past the Red Sox 5-4 and eliminating Boston in four games.
“When we saw Verlander run to the ‘pen we said, ‘Our horse is on the mound, we need to win this game,'” said Houston third baseman Alex Bregman, who homered off Sale to tie it in the eighth before Josh Reddick’s single gave the Astros the lead.
“That’s kind of the whole energy that he’s brought since we brought him over here,” Bregman said of Verlander, the former AL MVP and Cy Young winner who was acquired from Detroit for the playoff run. “He’s brought an energy with him that, ‘Hey, when he’s out there, we’re going to win.'”
Houston will open the ALCS on Friday, either at Cleveland or at home against the New York Yankees. The Indians held a 2-1 edge over the Yankees going into Game 4 of the AL Division Series on Monday night.
With both Game 1 starters coming out of the bullpen, Verlander gave up a go-ahead homer to Andrew Benintendi — the first batter he faced — before shutting down the Red Sox for 2 2/3 innings. It was his first pro relief appearance after 424 starts in the majors and minors.
Bregman tied it before Reddick’s single off closer Craig Kimbrel made it 4-3. Carlos Beltran added to his postseason legacy with an RBI double — an insurance run that became the game-winner when Rafael Devers hit an inside-the-park homer off closer Ken Giles to lead off the bottom of the ninth.
“The two big boys, Sale and Verlander, both get into the game. Everybody did well,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “Nobody really wanted to concede the game.”
The Astros last reached the league championship series in 2005 as a National League team, and were swept in the World Series by the White Sox. This year’s team, wearing “Houston Strong” patches to support the city that was flooded in Hurricane Harvey, is hoping to finish the job.
“The city of Houston is still rebuilding,” Hinch said. “It’s easy for us to look in the rearview mirror and think that the hurricane is over (but) the rebuild is not going to stop for a long time. … We want to win for them, we want to win for us, we want to win because we showed up in spring training to try to win a World Series.”
Giles pitched a perfect eighth before Devers opened the bottom of the ninth with a line drive over leaping center fielder George Springer and off the Green Monster toward center. The 20-year-old Red Sox rookie easily circled the bases before the throw.
Giles retired the next three batters for his first career postseason save.
Springer and Yuli Gurriel each had three hits for the AL West champions, and Reddick’s go-ahead single made up for misplaying a fly ball into a home run in Game 3 to force a fourth game.
Verlander also beat Sale in the playoff opener and is now 7-0 for his new team. Sale, who had never appeared in the postseason before 2017, pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and four hits, striking out six.
“This is what we show up to spring training for. It’s what we work all offseason for. Ups and downs, all around the country,” Sale said. “This is what we live for.”
On a rainy day at Fenway Park — the fourth straight day game — the Red Sox again saw a starter struggle early, with Rick Porcello giving up Houston’s eighth first-inning run of the series. The reigning AL Cy Young winner, who led the AL with 22 wins last year and the majors with 17 losses in 2017, gave up two runs in three innings, walking three and striking out four while allowing five hits.
Like Houston, the Red Sox called on their ace in relief.
Sale was sharp before giving up Bregman’s leadoff homer in the eighth. He allowed a one-out single to Evan Gattis before closer Kimbrel came on with two outs, walked Springer and gave up Reddick’s single.
Xander Bogaerts also homered for the AL East champion Red Sox, and Hanley Ramirez had two hits a day after going 4 for 4 in Boston’s only postseason win since the end of the 2013 World Series.
YANKEES 7, INDIANS 3
NEW YORK (AP) — Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees are headed back to Cleveland for a decisive Game 5 — thanks to plenty of help from the Indians.
Severino rebounded from his playoff debacle, Judge delivered a big hit and the Yankees took advantage of shoddy defense by Cleveland to beat the Indians 7-3 Monday night and even their AL Division Series at two games apiece.
“We’ve got a shot now,” said New York manager Joe Girardi, harshly criticized for his Game 2 decisions. “So it’s a totally different feeling than it was the other day, and these guys have picked me up.”
Gary Sanchez homered and a slumping Judge laced an early two-run double for his only hit of the series to go with 12 strikeouts in 15 at-bats.
Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer struggled on three days’ rest and was chased in the second inning. But it was on the wet Yankee Stadium field where the Indians really flopped, committing a season-high four errors that marked a franchise record for a postseason game and led to six unearned runs.
The defending AL champions made only 76 errors all season, the lowest total in the league.
“The whole night, we made it hard on ourselves to win,” manager Terry Francona said.
After preventing a three-game sweep with a 1-0 win Sunday night, the wild-card Yankees will start CC Sabathia against his original team in Game 5 on Wednesday. Indians ace Corey Kluber gets the ball in a rematch from Game 2, when he was hit hard by New York.
“It’s hard to imagine giving it to somebody better,” Francona said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
The winner faces Houston in the AL Championship Series after the Astros finished off Boston in four games Monday to win their ALDS.
“We’ve got a young team and they’re hungry,” Severino said.
Simply taking two in a row to send the series back to Cleveland was no small feat for the Yankees. The last time the Indians lost consecutive games was Aug. 22-23 at home against Boston, just before starting their AL-record 22-game winning streak. From that point on, Cleveland had gone 35-4 before arriving in the Bronx for Game 3 of the ALDS.
Minus injured slugger Edwin Encarnacion, the Indians have scored three runs in two games since.
Severino got only one out in the wild-card game against Minnesota last Tuesday, but was bailed out by his teammates as New York advanced with an 8-4 victory. This time, the 23-year-old ace was determined to come through, and he did.
“I think he was able to relax a lot more. He was able to control his adrenaline,” Girardi said. “He was able to channel things down and make his pitch, as opposed to just trying to power his way through it.”
Handed an early 5-0 lead and showing lots of emotion on the mound, the fired-up righty struck out nine in seven innings. With the crowd of 47,316 chanting his name, Severino threw 113 pitches and gave up four hits — including Carlos Santana’s two-run homer and Roberto Perez’s solo shot.
“I told him after the game, he grew up a lot today,” Girardi said.
Tommy Kahnle relieved a wild Dellin Betances in the eighth and got six straight outs — five on strikeouts — for his first save of the season as New York improved to 3-0 when facing playoff elimination this year.
“There’s a lot of confidence in that room,” Girardi said.
Sanchez hit his second home run of the series off Bryan Shaw in the sixth to make it 7-3.
A rainy day in the Big Apple prevented both teams from taking batting practice on the field. But the tarp was pulled and play started right on time, with fans in hooded ponchos bunched below the overhangs seeking cover from a heavy drizzle.
Showers dissipated in the bottom of the first, though a few puddles remained on the slick warning track all night.
The first of two costly errors by normally sure-handed third baseman Giovanny Urshela, a .224 hitter in the lineup for his defense, was a painful one. Starlin Castro’s sinking line drive in the second struck him just above the left ankle and caromed away.
Shaken up, Urshela was checked by a trainer but stayed in the game.
With two outs, Todd Frazier pulled a 78 mph curve to deep left and it landed smack on the foul line for an RBI double. A frustrated Bauer gestured with his hand when he didn’t get a strike-three call on a checked swing by Aaron Hicks, who soon singled home a run.
Brett Gardner singled and, after a mound visit from Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, Judge had a gritty at-bat. The rookie slugger was 0 for 11 with nine strikeouts in the series before fighting back from 0-2 to a full count and lining a two-run double to the left-field wall on one hop.
“Just had to grind it out,” Judge said.
After pulling in at second base, he clapped and pointed to the Yankees dugout.
Bauer managed only five outs after tossing two-hit ball with eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings during a 4-0 win in the series opener last Thursday. All four runs he allowed were unearned.
“I thought my stuff was better than Game 1,” Bauer said. “Just a couple of little things went their way instead of mine.”
Urshela’s two-out throwing error with the bases loaded in the third made it 5-0.
Frazier reached on pitcher Danny Salazar’s two-base throwing error to start the fifth. He scored on Gardner’s shallow sacrifice fly to center fielder Jason Kipnis, a second baseman moved to the outfield late this season. Kipnis began the year on the disabled list with a shoulder problem.
“As a team, we didn’t play the greatest defense tonight,” Bauer said.
DODGERS 3, D’BACKS 1
PHOENIX (AP) — Led by a big Japanese right-hander and a rookie from just down the road, the Los Angeles Dodgers are headed back to the NL Championship Series.
Cody Bellinger homered, drove in two runs and flipped over a dugout railing to steal an out for a dominant Yu Darvish, helping the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 Monday night to finish a three-game sweep in their NL Division Series.
“We have a great team,” said Bellinger, a rookie from nearby Chandler, Arizona. “And to come here and sweep them, beat them on their home turf is hard to do and pretty special.”
Darvish, acquired from Texas in a trade deadline deal, struck out seven over five innings to outpitch Arizona’s Zack Greinke and earn the righty his first postseason victory in three tries.
“Yu’s one of the best pitchers in the world,” said Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes, who also homered. “When he’s on his game, it’s tough for any lineup.”
Four Los Angeles relievers combined to preserve a three-hitter. Kenley Jansen worked around a single by David Peralta for a three-out save, striking out Paul Goldschmidt to end it. Only four batters reached base all night for the Diamondbacks, including Daniel Descalso with a homer.
“It was about finishing them off,” Darvish said, “because momentum can go their way.”
The Dodgers, who won 104 games for the best record in baseball and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, face the winner of the Nationals-Cubs series in the NLCS. Los Angeles fell there to World Series champion Chicago last year.
The Dodgers confined most of their celebration to the clubhouse, never making a move for the pool beyond the outfield wall. Los Angeles distressed the locals by taking a dip there after clinching the NL West in 2013, but for this party, police officers on horses waited at the warning track to keep the Dodgers away.
That was fine by the Dodgers. This wasn’t the bash they’re after, anyway.
“Being around this team for long enough, this is where we expect to be,” ace Clayton Kershaw said. “We are fortunate enough to be in a big market, have a big payroll, have a lot of good players, a lot of talent. They did a great job of putting this team together. They expect us to be here and we expect us to be here, too.”
Bellinger hit his homer in the fifth, then made a daring catch to end the bottom of the inning. The rookie first baseman fell into the Dodgers dugout as he snagged Jeff Mathis’ popup, nearly dropping into the lap of manager Dave Roberts.
“I should have been a little quicker to save him,” Roberts said, “but that was a heck of a play.”
The 22-year-old Bellinger is the youngest Dodger ever to homer in the postseason — he’s 75 days younger than Corey Seager was when he set the mark last fall. Bellinger was just 1 for 12 with five strikeouts in his first postseason before hitting Greinke’s 3-1 pitch over the wall in left for a 2-0 lead.
Bellinger, who may follow Seager as NL Rookie of the Year, also brought home Chris Taylor with a groundout in the first inning. Barnes chased Greinke with a leadoff homer in the sixth.
After Ketel Marte’s first-inning bunt single, Darvish sent down 13 in a row before Descalso hit his second homer of the series. The two-out shot barely cleared the right-field fence over Yasiel Puig’s glove to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Dodgers tinkered with Darvish’s mechanics after the trade, and he was masterful through most of the night, mixing a 98 mph fastball with his deep repertoire of offspeed pitches. He allowed two hits and didn’t walk any over 74 pitches.
“Yu really stepped up,” Roberts said. “He was in command from the first pitch.”
Darvish left after hitting pinch-hitter Christian Walker in the bill of his helmet to begin the sixth.
Greinke — the ex-Dodger signed to a $206.5 million, six-year contract by Arizona before the 2016 season — gave up three runs and four hits in five-plus innings. He struggled with his command, walking a season-high five and throwing 103 pitches through five innings. Greinke faced 3-2 counts against five of his first eight batters and was at 54 pitches through two innings.
“They’re ready to hit, which is tough, but they’re not chasing the pitch you want them to chase,” Greinke said. “That’s kind of what they do best. They did that the whole series.”
Arizona won its last six regular-season games against the Dodgers, but Los Angeles dominated its NL West rival when it mattered most, sweeping an opponent in the postseason for the first time since the 2009 NLDS against St. Louis.
It was a tough ending to a big turnaround season for the Diamondbacks, who went from 69-93 in 2016 to 93-69 this year.
“I want to remember how I feel,” first-year manager Torey Lovullo said, “because I think it will motivate me, and the pain and frustration that we’re all experiencing right now.”
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
BROOMS IN BOSTON?
Jose Altuve and the Astros are at Fenway Park, trying to finish off a sweep of the Red Sox in the AL Division Series. Houston won the first two games by identical 8-2 scores, powered by the top of its lineup. George Springer, Alex Bregman, Altuve and Carlos Correa — the first four hitters — are a combined 12 of 32 (.375) with six home runs and 10 RBIs.
Brad Peacock starts for the Astros against Doug Fister. The Red Sox are aiming to avoid getting swept in the ALDS for the second straight year after losing to Cleveland last season.
BACK SO SOON?
Following a frightening injury Friday, Indians slugger Edwin Encarnacion is hoping to play again this postseason — and could even pinch hit in Game 3 of Cleveland’s ALDS against the Yankees.
Encarnacion was on crutches and wearing a boot on his sprained right ankle Saturday, but manager Terry Francona said the designated hitter hadn’t been ruled out of Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium. At the very least, it seems Encarnacion should remain on the roster with hopes of contributing in the AL Championship Series if Cleveland advances.
The Indians can ensure a second straight ALCS appearance by taking Game 3. They lead their best-of-five ALDS 2-0 and send right-hander Carlos Carrasco to the mound. New York tries to avoid elimination behind Masahiro Tanaka.
FLY, BALL, FLY
The Year of the Home Run is heating up even more in the postseason. The late-inning shots by Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper in Washington on Saturday helped boost the total to a whopping 33 homers in ten playoff games. Big leaguers launched a record 6,105 longballs in the regular season, breaking the mark of 5,963 hit in 2000. The Yankees, who led the majors with 241 home runs this year, have connected six times in three games so far.
The Cubs and Nationals take a break before resuming their NL Division Series in Chicago, tied at 1. Max Schezer, who was pushed back in the rotation because of an injured right hamstring, starts Game 3 for Washington on Monday vs. Jose Quintana, who went 7-3 for the World Series champions after being acquired from the White Sox during the All-Star break.
NATIONALS 6, CUBS 3
WASHINGTON (AP) — Carl Edwards Jr. knew the ball was gone as soon as it left his hand. Mike Montgomery wasn’t sure until it went just over the fence.
The sinking feeling was the same for each reliever, and the rest of the Chicago Cubs.
Edwards’ hanging curveball turned into a tying two-run homer by Bryce Harper and Montgomery’s pulled changeup became a three-run shot by Ryan Zimmerman. The five-run rally in the eighth inning lifted Washington to a 6-3 victory on Saturday, tying the NL Division Series at a game apiece.
“It’s frustrating, but when you’re going up against good hitters, you’ve got to make your pitches,” Montgomery said. “We had them where we wanted them, and we couldn’t get the job done late in the game.”
The World Series champion Cubs wasted another solid playoff performance by Jon Lester and homers for Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras . Game 3 is Monday at Wrigley Field.
Lester allowed one run and two hits in six innings in his 20th career postseason start. The left-hander threw 86 pitches before he was pulled in favor of a pinch hitter.
Pedro Strop worked a scoreless seventh before Edwards got into trouble in the eighth. With one out and a runner on first, the wiry right-hander fell behind 3-1 against Harper and the 2015 NL MVP drove his next pitch into the second deck in right field.
Citing the 26-year-old’s numbers against lefties, manager Joe Maddon called turning to Edwards “the right option” and “the only option.” Lefties hit .119 against Edwards this season and .135 over his career. But the Nationals were also 5 for 12 against him this season.
“C.J. was the right man for the job,” Maddon said. “He made a bad pitch and the guy didn’t miss it, and that’s it. Sometimes that happens. Bryce is good. C.J. is good. Bryce got him.”
Edwards said it was “the right pitch, just the wrong hitter.” Walking Anthony Rendon put Montgomery on the spot because Maddon wanted a ground-ball pitcher. Instead, the lefty allowed a single to Daniel Murphy and then the home run to Zimmerman that the wind carried over left fielder Ben Zobrist.
“It’s a tough situation, but it’s the kind of situations I want to be in,” Montgomery said. “I prepared for that. It just didn’t go my way this time.”
As much as the Cubs could feel the surprising turn of events, the memories of winning the World Series last year crept in not long after. Rizzo, who became the franchise’s all-time postseason leader in home runs and RBIs, said nothing is going to faze his team.
“We’ve given up way bigger home runs than that before,” Rizzo said. “You’re not going to knock us down. We gave up a home run to Rajai Davis to tie the game in the eighth inning (in Game 7 of the World Series). It’s part of the journey. You’ve got to embrace it.”
After that home run, Maddon turned to Edwards and Montgomery to get the final three outs for the Cubs’ first championship since 1908. So it’s not at all surprising that Maddon wants them back out there in the same situation soon and so do their teammates.
“We’ve all been there, we’ve all given up big hits, we’ve all given up big homers,” Lester said. “Hopefully the situation arises on Monday and they go right back out there and dominate.”
DODGERS 8, D’BACKS 5
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Yasiel Puig’s bloop single didn’t even drive in a run. He still flipped his bat , sprinted to first and triumphantly pointed back at his dugout, where the cheering Los Angeles Dodgers pointed right back while the crowd chanted his name.
Some of baseball’s norms just don’t apply to the exuberant Puig. Or to the Dodgers, who are getting huge offensive contributions from practically every spot in their lineup.
The Cuban slugger is just one purring component of a machine that has the Dodgers on the brink of an even bigger celebration.
Puig had three hits and drove in two runs, Austin Barnes added a key two-run double and the Dodgers used another relentless hitting performance to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-5 on Saturday night for a 2-0 lead in their NL Division Series.
Logan Forsythe had three hits and Kenley Jansen earned a flawless five-out save for the 104-win Dodgers, who have made their mediocre pitching irrelevant by pounding out 17 runs and 24 hits in the first two games against their NL West rival.
The Dodgers have the majors’ biggest payroll, but their offense is coming from players of all salaries and pedigrees. And even when the heart of the Dodgers’ order produced little in Game 2, their 6-7-8 hitters — Forsythe, Barnes and Puig — were spectacular.
“We’ve got a lot of good players, and a lot of depth,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “There are so many guys in our lineup that can hurt you. I don’t know how many times they were on base, but (the batters in the) 6, 7, 8 spot, those guys were on base all night, being productive, driving runs in.”
The trio reached base a combined nine times, and Los Angeles turned an early 2-0 deficit into a 7-2 advantage with three rallies, capped by a four-run surge in the fifth.
Barnes, usually the Dodgers’ backup catcher, reached base three times and got the night’s biggest hit with that fifth-inning double. As for Puig, he has five hits, four RBIs and an uncountable number of tongue-wags, bat-licks and obscure celebratory gestures in just two games.
“It tells you that this team is prepared,” said Forsythe, who scored three runs in the second playoff game of his career. “The big thing for us is the guys that aren’t in (the lineup every day) are wanting to prove something, and I think that gives them a little added edge. They come out with a chip on their shoulder, and they want to get the job done. They’re not scared to do it. They want to do it.”
Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Brandon Drury added a pinch-hit, three-run shot in the seventh, but the Diamondbacks are on the brink of elimination after Robbie Ray and reliever Jimmie Sherfy couldn’t contain the Dodgers’ lineup.
Arizona actually has six homers in the series to just one by the Dodgers, who scored eight runs in Game 2 with only one extra-base hit.
“These games are dogfights, so it’s going to take a team effort and a collective unit,” Barnes said. “We’ve been doing this all year.”
Game 3 of the best-of-five matchup is Monday at Chase Field. Arizona ace Zack Greinke will attempt to save the season when he faces his former teammates with the Dodgers, who counter with late-season acquisition Yu Darvish.
Greinke is probably the Diamondbacks’ best chance to stop the Dodgers from scoring their way out of every problem.
“If you’ve got to pick one guy to stop this situation we’re in, I think we’ve found the right guy in Zack Greinke,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said.
Ray had been outstanding in five regular-season starts against the Dodgers, but he had just two days of rest after pitching in relief during Arizona’s wild-card win over Colorado, and the left-hander struggled mightily with his control from the first inning.
Ray walked four of nine batters early on, but the Dodgers didn’t get their first hit until Forsythe, Barnes and Puig delivered consecutive singles in the fourth in a go-ahead rally.
“I think with the wild-card game, it kind of threw things out of whack a little bit, but that’s the format,” said reliever Archie Bradley, who struck out Jansen in a rare at-bat for the Dodgers closer. “You have to win that game to get here. So it’s about trying to use this off day the best we can to get healthy. The series is not over.”
Drury kept it close with his no-doubt shot in the seventh on Brandon Morrow’s first pitch, but the Dodgers rallied for another run in the bottom half.
Roberts went to Jansen after Daniel Descalso’s one-out double off Josh Fields in the eighth, and the vaunted closer reprised his multiple-inning dominance from last October, mowing down five straight batters, getting David Peralta on a groundout to end it.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
Justin Turner and the major league-best Dodgers try to solve nemesis Robbie Ray (15-5, 2.89 ERA, 218 Ks) and take a 2-0 lead over the Diamondbacks in their NL Division Series. Ray dominated the Dodgers during the regular season, going 3-0 in five starts with a 2.27 ERA and a whopping 53 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. He even went 5 for 12 (.417) at the plate with two RBIs. But the left-hander threw 34 pitches over 2 1/3 innings in relief Wednesday during Arizona’s wild-card win over Colorado, so it will be interesting to see how fresh he looks. Los Angeles counters with lefty Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32), who had a 2.77 ERA at home this year. He was 0-3 with a 5.03 ERA in four starts against the Diamondbacks overall.
Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs beat Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg 3-0 in a well-pitched opener Friday night. On deck, it’s a matchup of veteran left-handers in Game 2 of their NL Division Series at 5:38 p.m. EDT. Jon Lester (13-8) starts for the defending World Series champions against Gio Gonzalez (15-9) and Washington after two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer was pushed back to Game 3 because of a tender hamstring. Gonzalez said he had been preparing to pitch Monday at Wrigley Field until he was told Wednesday to get ready for Game 2. Lester won his final two starts, allowing one run over 11 innings, after compiling an 8.22 ERA in his previous five games. He is 9-7 with a 2.63 ERA in his postseason career.
TAKE A BREAK
Boston’s pitchers get a breather after being battered by the Astros in the first two games of their ALDS, and nearly all the arms need a rest in the Yankees-Indians series following Friday’s extra-inning showdown. Houston leads its best-of-five matchup 2-0 after a pair of 8-2 wins, including a three-homer outburst from Jose Altuve on Thursday and long balls from Carlos Correa and George Springer on Friday. The Red Sox and Game 3 starter Doug Fister will plot for Houston during a workout at Fenway Park before that series resumes Sunday. New York and Cleveland will get a practice day at Yankee Stadium.
Cleveland is hoping for good news on slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who left Friday’s 9-8, 13-inning win over the Yankees with a sprained right ankle. The injury looked bad — Encarnacion rolled in the infield dirt in obvious pain after going awkwardly into second base — but an MRI showed only the sprain. Indians manager Terry Francona said late Friday that Encarnacion is day to day.
HOUSTON (AP) — Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and the high-powered Astros led the majors in runs, hits and batting average in the regular season.
Now that it’s playoff time, Houston is still hammering away.
Correa homered , doubled and drove in four runs, Altuve got two more hits and the Astros battered the Boston Red Sox 8-2 Friday to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series.
George Springer also homered to back Dallas Keuchel in Houston’s second straight romp by the exact same score.
“One through nine, everybody can do damage, everybody can go deep,” Correa said. “That’s the good thing about our lineup, there’s no holes in our lineup, and we feel very confident no matter if we went 0 for 4 the day before or if we went 4 for 4.”
The Astros will go for a sweep in the best-of-five matchup Sunday at Fenway Park, a year after Boston was swept in the ALDS by Cleveland. Brad Peacock (13-2) starts for Houston against Doug Fister (5-9).
“We couldn’t really script it any better,” Keuchel said.
A day after Altuve hit three home runs in the playoff opener, he got things going with a two-out single in the first inning off Drew Pomeranz. Correa, who went 0 for 4 on Thursday, made it 2-0 when he launched a towering shot onto the train tracks atop left field.
“For me if he’s not No. 1, he’s No. 2 in the league,” Altuve said of Correa, often referring to him as his little brother. “One of the best players, I’m really happy to have him on my team. Believe it or not I have learned from him.”
Keuchel pitched into the sixth, allowing one run and three hits while striking out seven to improve to 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA in three career postseason starts.
After Jackie Bradley Jr. had an RBI single in the Boston second, the Astros started to break away.
Springer hit his first postseason homer when he sent the second pitch of the third inning into the front row of the seats in right field.
So is Red Sox manager John Farrell surprised that the series has been this lopsided so far?
“They’re very good, they’re deep, and they have got a number of ways to beat you,” he said. “So we fully respect and understood the opponent, and they’re playing like that.”
A double by Alex Bregman set up an RBI single by Altuve later in the third, making it 4-1 and ending Pomeranz’s first career postseason start after two relief appearances. The lefty kept his head down as he trudged toward the dugout after being lifted.
“Any mistake that we’ve made these past two games, they’ve made us pay for them,” Pomeranz said. “It’s playoff baseball, and these guys have come out swinging.”
David Price, the starter-turned-reliever with the $217 million contract, pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the Red Sox. Following his exit, Houston tacked on four runs in the sixth.
A two-out intentional walk to Altuve, the major league batting champion this season, led to a two-run double by Correa . The top overall pick in the 2012 draft and crown jewel of Houston’s yearslong rebuilding project raised his hands in delight and motioned for the crowd to get louder as he stopped at second base.
Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts had an error that looked like it was pulled from a blooper reel earlier in the sixth when he caught a fly ball by Bregman then simply lost the ball as he tried to throw it back in. Betts looked confused as the ball dribbled away from him and he was charged with an error, allowing a run to score.
“I’m not even sure how it happened,” Betts said. “I messed up.”
Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, known as much for his beard as his devastating sinker, was cheered on by Houston’s other famous bearded superstar as Rockets guard James Harden watched from a front-row seat behind home plate.
Keuchel’s father, Dennis, also was in attendance and multiple television shots showed him looking a mixture of excited and nervous as he gazed at his son’s work.
The left-hander had trouble settling in early and after needing 30 pitches to get through the second inning, it looked like this start might be a short one. But he struck out the last two batters of that inning as the first of 13 straight he retired.
Keuchel exited to a standing ovation after walking Hanley Ramirez with two outs in the sixth inning.
Altuve, who hit .346 this year, kept punishing pitchers. After singling in his first two trips to the plate, giving him five hits in the series, the Red Sox had seen enough and intentionally walked him in the fourth. That drew a loud chorus of boos from the home crowd, which greeted Altuve with a standing ovation in his first at-bat.
Farrell was asked if the fourth inning was too early to intentionally walk Altuve.
“No, he’s been dynamite,” he said. “You pick your poison. He’s an extremely hot, extremely good hitter. Felt like we were going to move on and go to the next guy.”
Many fans held signs saying that Altuve should be this season’s MVP and one behind home plate proclaimed in sparkly multi-colored letters: “Altuve, He’s Pretty Good.”
Boston also gave him a free pass in the sixth inning, but had to pitch to him in the seventh with the bases loaded and two outs. Austin Maddox, who gave up Altuve’s third homer on Thursday, jumped into the air and pumped his fist after striking him out.
It didn’t matter much. Even with the strikeout, his average in the series is .714.
CLEVELAND (AP) — They’ve won this season in almost every way imaginable: comebacks, walk-offs, blowouts, nail-biters.
No. 104 for the Cleveland Indians topped them all.
Yan Gomes singled home Austin Jackson from second base with none out in the 13th inning as Cleveland rallied from five runs down to stun the New York Yankees 9-8 on Friday and snatch a 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series.
Despite an atrocious start by ace Corey Kluber and losing slugger Edwin Encarnacion with a severely sprained ankle in the first, the Indians, with some help from a call that went their way, continued a charmed season growing more and more special by the day.
“The tendency of this team is to never give up,” Kluber said. “Even when we were down 8-3, we didn’t believe the game was over. We never feel like we’re out of a game.”
Jackson drew a leadoff walk in the 13th from Dellin Betances and stole second. Gomes went to a full count before pulling his bouncer just inside the third-base bag, easily scoring Jackson and touching off another one of those wild celebrations inside Progressive Field, where the Indians have been so good while running away with their division and winning 22 straight.
As Jackson sprinted home, Cleveland’s players poured out of the dugout and mobbed Gomes at the conclusion of a wild, 5-hour, 8-minute thriller that featured 14 pitchers and a call that may haunt Yankees manager Joe Girardi for months.
“We just were supposed to win,” said Indians outfielder Jay Bruce, who hit a game-tying homer in the eighth. “No words, honestly. I’m speechless.”
Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam in the sixth to rally Cleveland, which will try for a sweep in Game 3 Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Carlos Carrasco will start for the Indians against Masahiro Tanaka, who will try to extend New York’s season.
The Yankees had their chances late, but they stranded the go-ahead run at third in the ninth and 10th — and had pinch-runner Ronald Torreyes picked off second in the 11th by Gomes from the behind the plate.
Josh Tomlin, who had been scheduled to start later in the series, pitched two perfect innings for the win as Francona ran out of relievers in a game started by his best pitcher.
Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer off Kluber and Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird hit two-run shots for the Yankees, who may have caught a bad break before Lindor’s homer.
New York’s Aaron Judge went 0 for 3 and is hitless in seven at-bats in the series with five strikeouts.
The Yankees lost consecutive games for the first time since they were swept at home in a three-game series by the Indians from Aug. 28-30. Now, they need to sweep three in a row from Cleveland.
Down 8-3, facing New York’s vaunted bullpen, the Indians came back.
New York starter CC Sabathia was lifted with one on and one out in the sixth for Chad Green, another one of the Yankees’ flame-throwers who got an out before Gomes doubled. Green came inside and Lonnie Chisenhall was awarded first by plate umpire Dan Iassogna on a hit by pitch.
TV replays showed the ball slightly change direction — it appeared to hit the knob of Chisenhall’s bat.
Girardi said there wasn’t enough evidence within 30 seconds to justify a challenge. He said the team later saw a slow-motion replay suggesting he should’ve contested the call, but it was too late.
“There was nothing that told us he was not hit by the pitch,” Girardi said.
New York catcher Gary Sanchez said he heard something, but wasn’t sure what. Sanchez caught the pitch on a fly — it would’ve been strike three if it had been ruled a foul tip — and immediately pointed to the Yankees dugout, indicating they should consider challenging the call.
Girardi nodded and held up a finger, asking for time to make a decision.
“I didn’t think it hit him, because he never reacted,” Sanchez said through a translator. “He stood there. But it’s just stuff that happens in the game.”
Lindor then stepped in and hit a towering shot off the inside of the right-field foul pole to make it 8-7. Before he left the batter’s box, Lindor gave his shot some help.
“As soon as I hit it, I knew it had a chance of going out,” Lindor said. “Then after a couple of steps, I was like, ‘No, don’t go foul, please. Just stay fair.’ I started blowing on it a little bit. As soon as it went out, it was just a lot of emotions.
As Lindor rounded the bases with Cleveland’s first postseason slam since Jim Thome in 1999, Progressive Field shook the way it did last November when Rajai Davis hit a two-run homer in eighth inning of Game 7 off Aroldis Chapman, then with the Cubs and now closing for the Yankees.
Bruce, who has done everything since coming over in an August trade, led off the eighth with his homer to left off reliever David Robertson, who pitched 3 1-3 scoreless innings and earned the win in the wild-card game over Minnesota.
Five innings later, the Indians finally broke the tie. They matched the longest postseason game in Cleveland history — Tony Pena’s homer in the 13th beat Boston in Game 1 of the 1995 ALDS.
Kluber wasn’t himself. Not even close.
The right-hander, who led the AL in wins, ERA and intimidation, didn’t get out of the third inning as Francona pulled him after allowing Hicks’ three-run homer.
It was the shortest outing this season for Kluber, and as he slowly walked off the mound, Cleveland’s stunned crowd gave him a polite ovation and several teammates approached him to offer consolation.
“I threw too many balls,” Kluber said. “And when I’d throw strikes, they were right over the plate.”
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw still hasn’t figured out how to dominate in October. This time, he couldn’t even keep the ball in the yard.
Justin Turner and the Los Angeles Dodgers made sure it hardly mattered in a strong postseason opener.
Turner homered and drove in five runs, Kershaw won despite giving up four long balls and the Dodgers roared to a 9-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night in Game 1 of their NL Division Series.
Turner hit a three-run homer and Yasiel Puig added an RBI double before Los Angeles made its first out against starter Taijuan Walker, who lasted just one inning in his playoff debut. Turner, the red-bearded slugger with postseason poise, added an RBI single in the fourth and another in the eighth to tie the Dodgers record for most RBIs in a postseason game.
With his teammates providing such a generous cushion, Kershaw could afford to allow a few big flies in the first victory of his checkered postseason career at Dodger Stadium. He improved to 5-7 in the playoffs.
“Yeah, he gave up four solo homers, but who cares?” asked Turner, batting .397 with 17 RBIs in his last 17 postseason games. “When you have a lead like that, it’s about attacking guys, not giving up free bases and pounding the zone. So I thought he was spectacular for us tonight.”
Kershaw yielded back-to-back homers into the short left-field porch by light-hitting Ketel Marte and Jeff Mathis on his final two pitches in the seventh, making him the first pitcher in team history and the eighth in baseball history to give up four home runs in a postseason game.
LA’s big lead was down to 7-4 when the three-time Cy Young Award winner left, but the suspense didn’t last: Turner and the 104-win Dodgers added two more runs in the eighth, capping a 12-hit performance.
“It just wasn’t coming out as good as I would have liked it to that last inning,” said Kershaw, who gave up five hits in 6 1/3 innings. “So they hit some good pitches. Not really. I just didn’t have much left. I don’t know. Hopefully, when you give up hits, maybe one or two would stay in the ballpark, but tonight it didn’t seem like that was going to happen. Obviously a frustrating way to end it, but thankfully we had a big lead.”
Game 2 is Saturday night, with Rich Hill facing Robbie Ray and the Diamondbacks in a matchup of left-handers.
Puig and Corey Seager both tripled and drove in two runs for the Dodgers, who finished 11 games ahead of Arizona to earn their fifth consecutive NL West crown.
A.J. Pollock and J.D. Martinez also homered off Kershaw, but Arizona’s euphoria from its wild-card victory over Colorado was erased during a rough first inning in Chavez Ravine. Los Angeles’ first five batters reached base, punctuated by Turner’s shot and Puig’s line-drive double that scored rookie Cody Bellinger.
Arizona ended a five-year playoff absence Wednesday with a rollicking 11-8 victory over the Rockies that was described by manager Torey Lovullo as “one of the most emotional days I’ve had in my career.”
But that tough game bit the Diamondbacks in Los Angeles when Walker needed 48 pitches to get out of the first inning. Playing from behind all night, Arizona couldn’t catch up.
“Well, we have been very resilient,” Lovullo said. “We’ve had some tough losses, and this is playoff baseball. We know that we’re built for moments like this. We’ve been battle-tested all year long. It’s one game. It was a tough day for us.”
Ray was supposed to start this series opener, but was pressed into relief against the Rockies when ace Zack Greinke faltered — and Walker couldn’t come through in his place.
“I just felt like they had a really good game plan against me,” Walker said. “They were sitting on the fastball most of the time.”
Zack Godley pitched five innings of relief, but Turner, Puig and Seager added RBIs in the fourth for a 7-1 lead.
Kershaw struck out seven, but the ace left-hander’s frequent inability to match his regular-season brilliance in October remains a constant presence. He struggled with the long ball again after serving up a career-high 23 homers during the regular season, but still earned his fifth career postseason victory — one shy of the franchise record — in 15 starts.
Pollock made his postseason debut with two extra-base hits in the wild-card game, and he added a homer in the third inning for Arizona’s first hit off Kershaw.
But Seager hit an RBI triple in the eighth, and Turner drove him home.
“We gave them a run for their money there towards the middle, end of the game,” Martinez said. “They had to execute, and they had to put up a couple more runs. So you tip your hat to them, (but) I feel a lot more confident the way we battled back in that game.”
The Diamondbacks still won’t lack for confidence against the mighty Dodgers. Arizona beat its division rivals six straight times down the regular-season stretch, and were one of two teams with a winning record against Los Angeles this season.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Kyle Hendricks goes about things completely differently than Stephen Strasburg does on the mound.
The kid from Dartmouth relies on a fastball that on a good day reaches 88 mph — about 10 mph slower than Strasburg’s — and a deceptive changeup. Instead of power, he gets by on precision, guile and smarts.
Hendricks outpitched Strasburg in Game 1 of the NL Division Series, giving up only two hits in seven innings to help the Chicago Cubs open defense of their first World Series title in 108 years by beating the Washington Nationals 3-0 on Friday night.
“That’s why we call him Professor,” Chicago second baseman Javier Baez said about Hendricks. “He knows what he’s doing.”
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo produced RBI singles with two outs in the sixth inning for the first two hits off an otherwise-dominant Strasburg. Rizzo added a run-scoring double in the eighth off Ryan Madson.
Carl Edwards Jr. threw a perfect inning and Wade Davis finished the two-hitter for a save.
Unlike No. 1 overall draft pick Strasburg, Hendricks went in the eighth round. Unlike Strasburg, Hendricks has never been an All-Star. Unlike Strasburg, who already has signed a $175 million, seven-year deal that begins next season, Hendricks earned less than $800,000 in 2017.
But this was Hendricks’ time to shine.
“He was tricking us tonight,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said, “and seems like those kind of guys give us more trouble than guys who throw hard.”
The slender righty, who led the NL in ERA last season, gave up a single in the first and another in the second — and that was it for the Nationals.
He walked three batters and struck out six.
“He knows the scouting report,” said Jon Lester, who starts Game 2 on Saturday for Chicago against fellow lefty Gio Gonzalez. “He knows where guys’ weaknesses are.”
Harper — wearing shoes with “Pray for Las Vegas” written on the side following the recent mass shooting in his hometown — was 1 for 4 as he tries to regain his timing after returning last week from a 42-game injury absence. Otherwise, Washington’s elite hitters — Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and Jayson Werth — were a combined 0 for 17 with three walks.
“Definitely, your confidence builds,” Hendricks said, “when you start seeing those swings.”
The fact that Hendricks approached 90 mph as often as he did was an aberration he and teammates attributed to adrenaline, but one that helped, of course.
He also knew he needed to be really good, because of what Strasburg was doing.
Strasburg didn’t allow a hit until there were two outs in the sixth. Baez reached on Rendon’s error at third base to start the inning and was sacrificed to second by Hendricks. One out later, Bryant drove in the first run with a single to right-center and went to second when Harper’s throw missed the cutoff man.
Bryant, Rizzo said, managed to “get the monkey off the back in the dugout for all of us.”
Rizzo followed by singling to right in front of a diving Harper to make it 2-0.
With a heavy beard and a lot of sweat on a muggy, 77-degree night, Strasburg dialed up his fastball to 98 mph and mixed in an unhittable changeup. To cheers of “Let’s go, Strasburg!” from many in a sellout crowd of 43,898, he struck out 10 to set a playoff record for the Expos-Nationals franchise.
Strasburg wound up allowing just those two unearned runs in seven innings, with three hits and one walk.
“You’re aware of it,” Hendricks said about Strasburg. “You know how well he’s throwing on the other side.”
Hendricks threw well, too.
“It was,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said, “a masterpiece.”
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
Red Sox lefty Chris Sale makes his first postseason appearance when he starts against Astros righty Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the AL Division Series at Minute Maid Park. Sale led the majors with 308 strikeouts while going 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA for Boston. Verlander excelled after being traded from Detroit to Houston, winning all five starts for his new team with a 1.06 ERA.
The aces spent several years together in the AL Central — Sale with the White Sox, Verlander with the Tigers — and started against each other five times. In those matchups dating to 2012, Verlander was 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA; Sale was 0-2 with a 2.78 ERA. Detroit won all five of those games.
POWER VS. BAUER
The Yankees led the majors in home runs this season, and Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius and Brett Gardner connected to lead New York over Minnesota in the AL wild-card game and into a matchup with the Indians in the ALDS.
Manager Terry Francona has opted to start Trevor Bauer in Game 1 at Cleveland, rather than dominant Corey Kluber. Francona said part of his decision is so he can use his best pitcher — Kluber — in a potential Game 5. Bauer shook off a slow start and went 17-9 with a 4.19 ERA in 31 starts this year. Since he began throwing a slider, he’s 10-1 with 2.60 ERA in 14 games. Sonny Gray will start the opener for New York.
The Nationals still aren’t saying who will start Game 1 of the NLDS vs. the visiting Cubs on Friday. Max Scherzer is recovering from a hamstring he hurt last weekend, and general manager Mike Rizzo said the team hasn’t determined when the two-time Cy Young Award winner will face Chicago. Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 2.52 ERA) remains a top candidate to start the playoff opener for the Nats.
Kyle Hendricks will pitch Game 1 for the Cubs. The righty led the majors in ERA last year, missed time this season because of pain in the middle finger of his pitching hand, and had a 2.19 ERA in his final 13 starts after the All-Star break.
There were eight teams with at least 91 victories this year, and those are the eight that are still in the running for the World Series title.
There were no major surprises in the wild-card games, with the 85-win Twins and 87-win Rockies cast aside. That leaves four teams left in each league and 16 possible matchups for the World Series. Here’s a list of them all — and what would make each of them noteworthy.
The matchups are listed in descending order of likelihood, using probability figures from Fangraphs.com heading into Thursday’s action.
DODGERS vs. INDIANS (11.2%)
The last time both pennant winners won at least 102 games during the regular season was in 1970, when the 108-win Orioles beat the 102-win Reds in the World Series. If the Dodgers (104-58) and Indians (102-60) meet this year, runs would likely be at a premium. The teams finished 1-2 in ERA.
NATIONALS vs. INDIANS (9.3%)
When the Nationals moved to Washington, Frank Robinson was the team’s manager, and he stayed in that role for the first two seasons in D.C. Robinson got his managerial start three decades earlier for the Indians.
DODGERS vs. ASTROS (8.9%)
These teams produced some drama together when they were both in the NL West. In 1981, the Dodgers beat Houston in a best-of-five NL Division Series, and the previous year, the division race came down to a one-game playoff after Los Angeles took three in a row from the Astros to pull even. Houston won the playoff 7-1 behind Joe Niekro.
CUBS vs. INDIANS (8.2%)
A rematch between the teams that needed extra innings to determine a champion in Game 7 a year ago . Would the Indians — without a title since 1948 — be the sentimental favorites this time?
NATIONALS vs. ASTROS (7.4%)
There are a number of ex-Detroit Tigers who could make an impact this postseason. A Nationals-Astros World Series could pit Justin Verlander against Max Scherzer.
DODGERS vs. RED SOX (7.4%)
Los Angeles vs. Boston is a storied basketball matchup. It’s been less compelling on the baseball field, although the California Angels and Red Sox did play a memorable AL Championship Series in 1986, when Boston rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win.
CUBS vs. ASTROS (6.5%)
In 2012, the Cubs and Astros were both in the NL Central. Chicago lost 101 games and Houston dropped 107. The Astros had the No. 1 pick in the next draft and took Mark Appel, then the Cubs nabbed Kris Bryant at No. 2. Imagine Bryant as part of this already-powerful Houston lineup.
DODGERS vs. YANKEES (6.1%)
These teams have met in the World Series 11 times, with the Yankees winning eight — but they’ve split four meetings since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. A stolen base by Dave Roberts was a turning point when New York lost to Boston in the 2004 ALCS. Roberts manages the Dodgers now.
NATIONALS vs. RED SOX (6.1%)
Several years before they moved to Washington, the Montreal Expos ushered in a glorious era in Red Sox history when they traded Pedro Martinez to Boston.
CUBS vs. RED SOX (5.4%)
All Theo Epstein, all the time. Purists weary of that story line can enjoy an entire series at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.
NATIONALS vs. YANKEES (5.1%)
Remarkable but true: Baby Bombers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez were born the same year as Bryce Harper, who is now in his fourth postseason. Judge is actually the oldest of the three.
DIAMONDBACKS vs. INDIANS (4.6%)
Cleveland right-hander Trevor Bauer made his major league debut with Arizona in 2012. The Indians acquired him in a three-team deal when they traded Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati.
CUBS vs. YANKEES (4.5%)
Aroldis Chapman was a Yankee last year before joining the Cubs for their World Series run. He’s back to throwing triple-digit fastballs in the Bronx. The Yankees and Cubs met in the 1932 and 1938 World Series, with New York sweeping both. The ’32 matchup is when Babe Ruth was said to have called his shot before homering.
DIAMONDBACKS vs ASTROS (3.7%)
One that got away: J.D. Martinez was released by Houston shortly before the 2014 season. After blossoming into an impressive power hitter with Detroit, Martinez hit 45 home runs this year, 29 of which came in 62 games for Arizona after a July trade.
DIAMONDBACKS vs. RED SOX (3.0%)
Torey Lovullo, who guided Arizona to the postseason in his first year after taking over as manager, was previously a bench coach for the Red Sox.
DIAMONDBACKS vs. YANKEES (2.5%)
Their 2001 World Series was a thriller, with three games won in the home team’s final at-bat — including Game 7, when Arizona beat Mariano Rivera . More recently, the Yankees acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius from the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade after the 2014 season. Robbie Ray went from Detroit to Arizona in that deal.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
PHOENIX (AP) — Three bags, four times.
And you wouldn’t believe who got in on all the fun for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Spirited reliever Archie Bradley hit a stunning triple in the seventh inning, driving in two runs with one of four three-baggers by Arizona that sent the Diamondbacks past the Colorado Rockies 11-8 in the National League wild-card game Wednesday night.
“After today, I think pretty much I’ve seen everything,” first-year Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “This was an incredible game.”
As he watched his top reliever rounding second base, Lovullo said he thought, “Please stop there.”
But that’s not Bradley.
“That’s just kind of who I am,” he said. “I don’t know any other way to play, so I was going to run as hard as I could until they told me to stop.”
Paul Goldschmidt launched an early three-run homer and the Diamondbacks built a 6-0 lead before ace Zack Greinke faltered. Colorado climbed back into it and cut it to 8-7 when Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story hit back-to-back homers in the eighth off Bradley, perhaps tired from hustling around the bases and shouting in excitement to giddy teammates.
But then A.J. Pollock knocked in two runs with Arizona’s fourth triple, this one off closer Greg Holland, as the Diamondbacks scored three times in their half of the eighth to finally put it away.
“Right away all hell broke loose,” Colorado manager Bud Black said, “and from then on it was a heavyweight fight.”
Arizona advanced to a best-of-five Division Series against the NL West champion Dodgers, a team the Diamondbacks beat the last six times they played.
Game 1 is Friday night in Los Angeles.
“Look, the Dodgers got on a tremendous run there,” Lovullo said, “and I think they were steamrolling teams and intimidating teams, and I don’t think we have that mentality. We love that battle mindset. We love that challenge.”
The Diamondbacks became the first team with four triples in a postseason game since the Boston Americans (now Red Sox) twice hit five during the first World Series back in 1903 against Pittsburgh.
It was that kind of crazy night in the desert as two NL West foes slugged it out. Daniel Descalso also homered for the Diamondbacks, and Ketel Marte tripled twice.
“That’s one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of, if not the best,” Goldschmidt said.
Bradley, a high-energy setup man recruited to play quarterback at Oklahoma, went 1 for 4 at the plate this season to raise his career batting average to .098. With two outs in the seventh, he drove a 3-1 pitch from Pat Neshek to deep left-center to give Arizona an 8-5 cushion. It was his first extra-base hit in the majors and the first triple by a reliever in postseason history.
Already a fan favorite for his bushy beard and late-inning relief work, Bradley regrouped from the two solo homers he gave up to get the final two outs of the eighth with the Diamondbacks clinging to a one-run lead.
Fernando Rodney allowed a run in the ninth before closing out Arizona’s first playoff game since 2011.
Jake Lamb tied a Diamondbacks postseason record with four hits, all singles, and scored three times.
Jonathan Lucroy doubled twice, scored two runs and drove in one for the Rockies in their first playoff appearance since 2009.
Marte, who came to Arizona with pitcher Taijuan Walker from Seattle for Jean Segura in an offseason deal, became the first player to triple twice in a postseason game since Mariano Duncan did it for Philadelphia against Atlanta in the 1993 NL Championship Series.
The home team won for just the second time in the six NL wild-card games since the one-game format was adopted in 2012. The hosts hadn’t even scored in the last three, but the Diamondbacks ended that before their first out.
Goldschmidt, in an 0-for-17 slump to end the regular season, hit the first pitch he saw from ineffective starter Jon Gray into the left-field seats for a three-run shot.
Greinke blanked the Rockies on one hit through three innings but never made it through the fourth.
Colorado, known for its power at the plate, got back into it with small ball — five hits, four of them singles. Lucroy’s two-out RBI double followed by pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista’s run-scoring single made it 6-4, and Greinke was finished. He allowed four runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings.
“We know how tough these guys are. We play ’em all the time,” Goldschmidt said. “Every time we scored, we just said, ‘We’ve got to get more, we’ve got to get more.'”
Left-hander Robbie Ray, a 15-game winner during the regular season, came on for his first relief appearance in three years and threw two shutout innings before giving up a leadoff double to Lucroy just below the home run line in straightaway center in the seventh. Lucroy went to third on a wild pitch before Ray fanned Ian Desmond.
Lovullo replaced Ray with another lefty, ex-Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, to face NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon, who dragged a bunt that brought Lucroy home and cut the lead 6-5.
“That was a crazy game from the beginning all the way to the end,” said longtime Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who can become a free agent this fall. “Not a lot of people counted in the Rockies when we first started the season. We put ourselves in this position. We came so close.”
The 25-year-old Gray was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in his previous five starts, but the Diamondbacks were up 3-0 on him before a good share of the 48,803 in the stands settled into their seats. He lasted just 1 1/3 innings.
“It was tough, tough emotionally,” Gray said. “I really want to be good for the guys behind me. It is a really big situation, really a big game.”
The previous pitcher to hit a postseason triple was Dontrelle Willis for the Marlins in 2003.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
There was a moment of silence for victims of the Las Vegas shooting, and a photo was shown on the big screen of one of them, Christiana Duarte, a University of Arizona graduate and former member of the Diamondbacks front office.
Rockies: Will be back in Arizona to open the 2018 season on March 29.
Diamondbacks: The Dodgers had the best record in baseball at 104-58 but went 8-11 against Arizona.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
DUEL IN THE DESERT
Nolan Arenado and the Colorado Rockies face Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke in the NL wild-card game at 8:08 p.m. EDT. It’s a matchup of teams that know each other well. The division rivals share a spring training facility and played each other 19 times this season. The winner of No. 20 heads for Los Angeles to play the NL West champion Dodgers in a best-of-five Division Series beginning Friday. “There’s no secrets here,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We know what they like to do. They know our players.”
ONE DAY AWAY
The Red Sox and Astros work out in Houston ahead of their AL Division Series. Pitching matchups are set for the first two games, with Justin Verlander scheduled to start Thursday’s opener for the Astros against Chris Sale. Dallas Keuchel gets the ball in Game 2 vs. Boston left-hander Drew Pomeranz. “It’s really deciding between two really deserving, really good guys,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “So I didn’t have a lot of stress about it other than we had to pick an order.”
After a wild-card win Tuesday night over Minnesota to start the 2017 postseason, Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees will be in Cleveland to prepare for their best-of-five Division Series against the defending AL champion Indians. In a surprise move, Cleveland plans to pitch Trevor Bauer (17-9, 4.18 ERA) in the opener Thursday rather than ace Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25). Baseball’s most dominant pitcher for months, Kluber is scheduled to start Game 2. Indians manager Terry Francona said part of his decision to go with the rubber-armed Bauer in Game 1 is so he can use his best pitcher — Kluber — in a potential Game 5. In other news, All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley will be on the ALDS 25-man roster as a pinch-hitter. Brantley was sidelined for 50 games with an injured ankle ligament before returning last week and getting a single in his first at-bat since Aug. 8. Francona said the hope is for Brantley’s role to expand if the Indians advance.
Both the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, who are pitted in the National League wild card game, head into the postseason with many similarities.
Oddly enough, both clubs have new managers and both flipped their records around this season.
Under Torey Lovullo, the Diamondbacks finished 93-69 after a 69-93 record last year.
Under Bud Black, the Rockies finished 87-75 after a 75-87 record in 2016.
So who will win the game that matters most? The Diamondbacks have a 52% chance of winning the game against the Rockies, according to Fangraphs.com.
Date: Wednesday, 8:08 pm ET
TV: TBS. Ernie Johnson (play-by-play) will be joined by analyst Ron Darling and reporter Sam Ryan.
Where: Chase Field, Phoenix
Season series: Arizona won 11-8.
Starters: Jon Gray (10-4), Rockies at Zack Greinke (17-7), Diamondbacks
The Fernando Rodney Experience: “It definitely kept people on their toes,’’ said catcher Mike Zunino, Rodney’s teammate on the Seattle Mariners in 2014 and ’15. “That one year he had 48 saves (2014), no matter what happened you knew he could get out of it. But he had the defense on their toes when he had those longer innings.’’
Best trade ever? The Diamondbacks acquired J.D. Martinez from the Detroit Tigers on July 18 for three minor leaguers, He hit .302 with 29 homers and 65 RBI in 62 games with the Diamondbacks. In September, he batted .404 with 26 runs, eight doubles, 16 homers and 36 RBI in 24 games.
Rockies: CF Charlie Blackmon, 2B DJ LeMahieu, 3B Nolan Arenado, RF Carlos Gonzalez, SS Trevor Story, 1B Mark Reynolds, LF Ian Desmond, C Jonathan Lucroy.
Diamondbacks: RF David Peralta, SS Ketel Marte, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, LF J.D. Martinez, 3B Jake Lamb, CF A.J. Pollock, 2B Daniel Descalso, C Chris Iannetta.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
NEW YORK (AP) — Minutes into the playoff debut for these young New York Yankees, they trailed Minnesota by three runs. Their starting pitcher lasted just one out. A sellout crowd was stunned.
Could their postseason be over almost before it began?
Nope. A strange AL wild-card game was only just beginning.
“We’ve had a quite a few games where we’ve gotten down early,” Aaron Judge said. “Just keep battling. Just stay calm. Just play your game, and good things will happen.”
Judge, Didi Gregorius and a brilliant bullpen rescued New York and lifted the Yankees to their first postseason victory in five years.
Gregorius’ three-run homer tied the score in the first inning after Minnesota knocked out Luis Severino, a pumped-up Judge showed his most emotion this season when he hit a two-run shot in his playoff debut and the Yankees beat the Twins 8-4 Tuesday night. New York plays the Indians in a best-of-five Division Series starting Thursday.
“We’re not done yet,” Judge said. “We’ve just got to keep it rolling in Cleveland.”
Brett Gardner also homered for the Yankees, who chased Ervin Santana after two innings and once again eliminated Minnesota from the playoffs.
Chad Green, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman combined for 8 2/3 innings of one-run, five-hit relief, striking out 13 to tie the postseason record for a bullpen.
“It was just remarkable,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Twins manager Paul Molitor marveled at the Yankees relievers and Girardi’s use of them over 142 pitches.
“He extended some guys probably past their comfort zone,” the Hall of Famer said. “They still performed.”
Brian Dozier led off the game with a home run and Eddie Rosario hit a two-run drive as the Twins burst to a quick lead.
But Santana went to full counts on eight of 11 batters, and he was removed after six outs and 64 pitches with the Twins trailing 4-3.
“It’s the exhilaration of jumping out,” Molitor said, “and then the deflation of giving it back so quickly.”
Minnesota, the first team to follow a 100-loss season with a playoff appearance, lost its 13th consecutive postseason game, tying the record set by Boston from 1986-95. The Twins have been eliminated by the Yankees in five of their last six postseason appearances and have not won a playoff series since 2002.
“Nobody expected us to be here,” Byron Buxton said. “That’s an amazing achievement.”
New York won nine regular-season games after trailing by three runs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau — including when Severino fell behind against the Twins on Sept. 20 as New York rebounded to complete a series sweep. Gregorius erased the deficit in this one four batters into the bottom of the first.
“I was hyped, and I tried to get the game going, tried to get the guys going,” he said.
Judge, the 6-foot-7 sensation who set a rookie record with 52 home runs, was given a Ruthian ovation, with several sections of fans holding signs in his honor spelling out “All Rise!” He scored three runs, hitting a single to help ignite the first-inning rally, smoking a 108 mph home run off loser Jose Berrios in the fourth and walking in the seventh before coming home when Alan Busenitz walked Aaron Hicks with the bases loaded.
Judge shouted in excitement as he rounded first base after the homer, his face flush with emotion.
“This place was rocking. It was incredible,” he said.
New York had made only one postseason appearance since 2012, losing the 2015 wild-card game to Houston 3-0. Just three Yankees who started that game were in the starting lineup, part of a Baby Bombers movement that purged the roster of veterans.
At 23, Severino was the youngest Yankees postseason starter since Andy Pettitte in 1995. The right-hander lasted only 29 pitches on a crisp autumn night and matched the Yankees’ shortest postseason start, by Bob Turley in Game 2 of the 1958 World Series and Art Ditmar in the 1960 World Series opener.
Severino was shaking his head as walked to the dugout and Green replaced him with runners at second and third. Green struck out Buxton and Jason Castro , then fanned three in a row in the second.
“I think we’re all ready to be in from the first to the ninth,” Green said.
Robertson came in with the bases loaded in the third and allowed Buxton’s RBI grounder , then struck out Castro.
Robertson tired in the sixth but earned the win, leaving after 52 pitches and 3 1/3 innings. His only longer professional outing was 3 2/3 innings for Double-A Trenton in April 2008.
Kahnle relieved with a runner on and retired Joe Mauer on a flyout to the warning track . After Kahnle threw 2 1/3 perfect innings , Chapman struck out three around a hit in the ninth.
A pitcher named Santana — Johan Santana — beat the Yankees for the Twins’ last postseason win in 2004. But Ervin Santana’s career postseason ERA climbed to 6.57, contributing to a first inning that lasted 45 minutes and three innings that took 1:43.
Gardner walked leading off, Judge poked a single to center and Gregorius lined a fastball over the right-field scoreboard. Brushed off the plate by a 2-2 pitch in the second, Gardner sent Santana’s next offering into the second deck in right for a 4-3 lead.
Green struck out the side in the second, but left in the third after a leadoff single and two walks loaded the bases. Buxton hit into a run-scoring forceout before Robertson struck out Castro, and the Yankees went ahead for good in the bottom half when Gary Sanchez doubled off Berrios leading off and scored on Greg Bird’s two-out single.
“”I think we can win it all,” Todd Frazier said after a draining game that took 3:51. “If we just keep doing what we’ve been doing, like we did today, sky’s the limit.”
After a moment of silence for victims of the Las Vegas shooting , Broadway star Aaron Tveit asked fans to join him in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Players on both teams remained at attention on the field until the color guard reached the foul line. Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve, a Las Vegas native, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
WAY BACK WHEN
When the Yankees last won a postseason game, Judge was at Fresno State. Bird had just finished a season with the Class A Staten Island Yankees, Sanchez with the Class A Tampa Yankees and Severino with the Dominican Summer League Yankees.
RHP Masahiro Tanaka (13-12) is likely to start Thursday for the Yankees against the Indians and Trevor Bauer (17-9).
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- All those home runs by Aaron Judge, all those wins by the Los Angeles Dodgers, nicely done. Except none of that matters now — a sinker that bounces to the backstop, a liner that hooks barely foul, the whole script flips.
October has a way of doing that.
The Major League Baseball playoffs start Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium when New York hosts the Minnesota Twins in the AL wild-card game. A look at the 2017 postseason, from A to Z:
A: ALTUVE’S ASTROS — Generously listed at 5-foot-6, Jose Altuve is baseball’s little big man. The do-everything second baseman won his third AL batting title and aims to lead the Astros to their first World Series crown. With the Houston area recovering from Hurricane Harvey, they’re the sentimental favorites.
B: BULLPENS — Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman going long, Andrew Miller entering early, Clayton Kershaw as a closer. The old rules were out last October when it came to relief roles. We’ll see what pops up in the ‘pens this year.
C: CUBS VS. CLEVELAND — Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Corey Kluber & Crew, once more? It’s been a while since a World Series rematch, when Reggie Jackson led the Yanks over the Dodgers in 1977-78. But, it’s already been a ripe year for repeats — Warriors vs. Cavaliers, Alabama vs. Clemson.
D: DEBUTS — Strikeout king Chris Sale makes his first playoff appearance when Boston starts at Houston on Thursday in the best-of-five AL Division Series. Rockies bopper Nolan Arenado and Twins slugger Brian Dozier are postseason newbies, too. So is Nationals backup Adam Lind, after 12 years and more than 1,300 games.
E: EXTRA — Hmmm, anyone remember the last time a postseason game went to extra innings? Hard to top the Cubs’ 10-inning, rain-delayed, 8-7 thriller over Cleveland in Game 7. The Red Sox are the experts of extras this year — they’re 15-3, including seven straight wins.
F: FREE AGENTS — Sure, 20 teams are done. But their fans can always dream. Cubs righty Jake Arrieta, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and Rays thumper Logan Morrison are on the list of who’ll soon be available. The most intriguing possibility might be Shohei Otani, a star pitcher and hitter in Japan.
G: GOOD TO SEE YA — Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, when he was 10 for 17. Twins star Joe Mauer has been absent since 2010. And Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg has pitched just once in Washington’s three trips, heading into this matchup with the Cubs.
H: HOME FIELD — World Series home-field advantages goes to the team with the best record. Thankfully, it’s no longer based on who wins the All-Star Game. That means the Dodgers (104 wins) get first dibs, followed by Cleveland (102), Houston (101), Washington (97), Boston (93) and the Cubs (92).
I: INJURIES — Nationals ace Max Scherzer tweaked his hamstring, teammate Bryce Harper is getting over a bad knee. Banged-up All-Stars Miguel Sano of the Twins and Michael Brantley of the Indians might be able contribute this week. Might not.
J: JOE MADDON — A cool cat, he keeps his Cubs loose. He reveled in last year’s rallying cry: “Try Not to Suck.” The skipper became the toast of Chicago, ending that century-old drought. Funny, all those warm-and-fuzzy Wrigley Field feelings are gone now, at least beyond the Friendly Confines.
K: KERSHAW — He tied for the major league lead in wins and won his fifth ERA title. He’s a three-time Cy Young Award winner and seven-time All-Star. But will anyone get more scrutiny in the postseason than Clayton Kershaw? Probably not, because the LA lefty is 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in the postseason.
L: LOUSY WEATHER — Too bad, the temperature is often better suited for snowballs than baseballs. It was in the low 40s at Wrigley last year, and just imagine how it might feel in Denver or Minneapolis. If you want clear conditions, root for Arizona vs. Houston and their retractable roofs.
M: MANAGERS — Twin Cities native Paul Molitor, Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks and Bud Black of the Rockies are first-time skippers in the playoffs. Washington’s Dusty Baker is back for his ninth try, still seeking that elusive first World Series championship.
N: NETTING — Fan safety has drawn special focus ever since a 1-year-old girl was recently hit by Todd Frazier’s 105 mph foul ball at Yankee Stadium. Of the teams in these playoffs, three already had extended the netting to screen spectators: Houston, Washington and Minnesota. The Yankees say they’ll have it next year.
O: OCTOBER — Of course. But if the World Series goes to Game 7, they’ll go beyond Halloween and play on Nov. 1.
P: PUERTO RICO — Carlos Beltran, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa are among the many players from Puerto Rico trying to raise money and awareness for the damage done to their island by Hurricane Maria. Look for messages on caps and shoes over the next few weeks.
Q: QUICK? — Extra mound conferences, longer TV commercials, more pitching changes, they all contribute to slowing down the pace in the playoffs. MLB wants to speed up the action and avoid a repeat from last year, when postseason games averaged almost 3 1/2 hours. Not a good sign that regular-season games this year took more than 3 hours, 5 minutes on average, the longest ever.
R: ROOKIES — Yankees behemoth Aaron Judge broke the major league record with 52 home runs by a rookie, Dodgers surprise Cody Bellinger set the NL mark with 39. Other newcomers who could make an impact: Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, Cubs outfielder/infielder Ian Happ and 33-year-old Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel.
S: STREAKS — Jose Ramirez and the Indians set an AL record by winning 22 straight, the Dodgers dropped 11 in a row for their worst skid since moving from Brooklyn. A year after winning its first six postseason games, and in this season of streaks, Cleveland hopes to do it again.
T: TRADES — Justin Verlander (5-0, 1.06 ERA for Houston), J.D. Martinez (29 homers in 62 games for Arizona) and Jose Quintana (7-3, 3.74 for the Cubs) are some of the stars who were acquired in midseason trades. Yu Darvish, David Robertson and Eduardo Nunez also gave their new teams a boost.
U: UMPIRES — It won’t be long before some team is hollering about an ump’s strike zone. Those calls can’t be contested, but others can. Some teams are very good at getting them overturned (Joe Girardi and the Yankees won 72 percent of their challenges). Others, not so much (the Nationals were right only 36 percent).
V: VOTING — All ballots for MVP, Cy Young and other major awards must be sent before the playoffs begin. These honors will generate plenty of debate before the winners are announced in November. Altuve or Judge, Kluber or Sale?
W: WILD CARDS — Madison Bumgarner and the 2014 Giants are the only wild-card team to win the World Series since MLB went to a one-and-done format in 2012. Before that, five wild cards took the title: Cardinals (2011), Red Sox (2004), Marlins (2003, 1997) and Angels (2002).
X: XANDER BOGAERTS — Perhaps the Boston shortstop might be the next infielder to really break out in postseason. Think Javier Baez, Daniel Murphy, Ben Zobrist and Alcides Escobar in recent years.
Y: YANKEE STADIUM — The playoffs begin the Bronx, with Yankees youngster Luis Severino starting the AL wild-card game, taking on Ervin Santana and the Twins.
Z: ZACK GREINKE — The Arizona ace is set to throw the first pitch in Wednesday’s NL wild-card game at home against a familiar opponent. He’s 2-1 in five starts vs. Colorado this year.
Major League Baseball’s playoffs begin Tuesday with the American League wild card game, followed Wednesday with the National League wild card battle.
The World Series is scheduled to begin Oct. 24. If necessary, Game 7 is scheduled Nov. 1, falling into an unusual month for the sixth time.
With the All-Star Game no longer determining who has home field advantage, the Series will start at the home of the pennant winner with the better regular season record.
A look at the postseason schedule (All times ET):
Tuesday: Twins (Santana, 16-8) at Yankees (Severino, 14-6), ESPN, 8:09
Wednesday: Rockies (Gray, 10-4) at Diamondbacks (Greinke, 17-7), TBS, 8:08
CLEVELAND INDIANS vs. NEW YORK YANKEES or MINNESOTA TWINS
Game 1: Thursday: Yankees or Twins at Indians (Kluber, 18-4), FS1/MLBN, 7:38
Game 2: Friday: Yankees or Twins at Indians, FS1/MLBN, 5:08
Game 3: Sunday: Indians at Yankees or Twins, FS1/MLBN
*Game 4: Oct. 9: Indians at Yankees or Twins , FS1
*Game 5: Oct. 11: Yankees or Twins at Indians, FS1
HOUSTON ASTROS vs. BOSTON RED SOX
Game 1: Thursday: Red Sox (Sale, 17-8) at Astros, FS1/MLBN, 4:08
Game 2: Friday: Red Sox at Astros, FS1/MLBN, 2:05
Game 3: Sunday: Astros at Red Sox, FS1/MLBN
*Game 4: Oct. 9: Astros at Red Sox, FS1
*Game 5: Oct. 11: Red Sox at Astros, FS1
LOS ANGELES DODGERS vs. COLORADO ROCKIES or ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Game 1: Friday: Rockies or Diamondbacks at Dodgers (Kershaw, 18-4), TBS, 10:30
Game 2: Saturday: Rockies or Diamondbacks at Dodgers, TBS, 9:08
Game 3: Oct. 9: Dodgers at Rockies or Diamondbacks, TBS
*Game 4: Oct. 10: Dodgers at Rockies or Diamondbacks, TBS
*Game 5: Oct. 12: Rockies or Diamondbacks at Dodgers, TBS
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. CHICAGO CUBS
Game 1: Friday: Cubs at Nationals, TBS, 7:31
Game 2: Saturday: Cubs at Nationals, TBS, 5:38
Game 3: Oct. 9: Nationals at Cubs, TBS
*Game 4: Oct. 10: Nationals at Cubs, TBS
*Game 5: Oct. 12: Cubs at Nationals, TBS
Game 1: Oct. 13: Lower Seed at Higher Seed (Fox/FS1)
Game 2: Oct. 14: Lower Seed at Higher Seed (Fox/FS1)
Game 3: Oct. 16: Lower Seed at Higher Seed (Fox/FS1)
Game 4: Oct. 17: Higher Seed at Lower Seed (Fox/FS1)
*Game 5: Oct. 18: Higher Seed at Lower Seed (Fox/FS1)
*Game 6: Oct. 20: Lower Seed at Higher Seed (Fox/FS1)
*Game 7: Oct. 21: Lower Seed at Higher Seed (Fox/FS1)
Game 1: Oct. 14: Lower Seed at Higher Seed (TBS)
Game 2: Oct. 15: Lower Seed at Higher Seed (TBS)
Game 3: Oct. 17: Higher Seed at Lower Seed (TBS)
Game 4: Oct. 18: Higher Seed at Lower Seed (TBS)
*Game 5: Oct. 19: Higher Seed at Lower Seed (TBS)
*Game 6: Oct. 21: Lower Seed at Higher Seed (TBS)
*Game 7: Oct. 22: Lower Seed at Higher Seed (TBS)
Game 1: Oct. 24 (Fox)
Game 2: Oct. 25 (Fox)
Game 3: Oct. 27 (Fox)
Game 4: Oct. 28 (Fox)
*Game 5: Oct. 29 (Fox)
*Game 6: Oct. 31 (Fox)
*Game 7: Nov. 1 (Fox)
This gallery contains 1 photo.
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
The Yankees and Twins will hold workouts in New York ahead of Tuesday’s AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium, and eyes will be on Minnesota’s Miguel Sano. The hulking slugger is 1 for 8 in three games since missing 38 games with a stress reaction in his left shin. Sano was pinch hit for in the eighth inning Sunday after he felt some discomfort in his leg, said manager Paul Molitor. The team will wait to see how he responds before making decisions on his availability for the game against the Yankees.
GOOD JOBS AVAILABLE
The day after the regular season ends can be a jittery one for managers, but three teams have gotten a jump on the offseason by dumping their skippers already. The Phillies announced that Pete Mackanin will not return as manager in 2018, though he will stay in the organization. Brad Ausmus won’t be back as manager of the Tigers, who are already interviewing candidates to replace him. And Terry Collins resigned as manager of the Mets to take a job in the team’s front office. One last-place skipper who won’t have to worry is Oakland’s Bob Melvin, whose contract was extended through 2019. Baltimore’s Buck Showalter is also considered safe despite a poor September that dropped the Orioles to their first last-place finish since 2011, Showalter’s first full season with the team.
QUESTIONS IN WASHINGTON
Bryce Harper isn’t the only Nationals player who goes into the playoffs with questions about how effective he can be. Harper, who came off the disabled list Tuesday after missing six weeks with a knee injury, went 2 for 4 on Sunday. He was 1 for 14 in his first four games after being activated. Meanwhile, Washington’s vaunted starting rotation is suddenly looking more vulnerable. Gio Gonzalez, the likely starter for Game 3 of the NL Division Series, closed out the season with two rough outings, allowing nine runs in 9 1/3 innings. And Max Scherzer left his last pre-playoffs start in the fourth inning with discomfort in his right hamstring. Scherzer said Sunday that he only “tweaked” the muscle.
BEST OF THE REST
The Brewers ended 2017 with the best record among teams that didn’t make the playoffs. Milwaukee finished 86-76, one game behind Colorado for the second NL wild card and six games back of the first-place Cubs in the NL Central. Still, the Brewers did a lot of things well in a season that saw them hold at least a share of first place for 65 days. Milwaukee improved by 13 games over the previous season. “We’ll keep our heads held high and we’ll be excited about the future for this team,” shortstop Eric Sogard said.
MIAMI (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton came up short in his quest for 60 home runs, and Adonis Garcia hit a pinch-hit three-run home run to lift the Atlanta Braves over the Miami Marlins 8-5 in the season finale for both teams Sunday.
Stanton finished with ML-bests of 59 home runs and 132 RBIs. His final chance at No. 60 came in the ninth, and the crowd of 25,222 saluted him with a long ovation after he struck out swinging. He then came out for a curtain call, followed by hugs from teammates.
It was the final game of Jeffrey Loria’s 16-year tenure as Marlins owner, one where the team won the 2003 World Series and didn’t make the playoffs again. He was in attendance, as was Derek Jeter — who will assume control of the franchise this week when the $1.2 billion sale to a group led by him and Bruce Sherman is closed.
Loria spent part of the game near the Marlins’ dugout. Jeter watched from a suite, casually eating popcorn.
PHILLIES 11, METS 0
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pete Mackanin ended his tenure as Phillies manager with a win, while Terry Collins left the Mets with a loss.
Maikel Franco hit a three-run homer in a six-run fourth inning in Philadelphia’s season-ending 11-0 rout.
At 68 the oldest manager in the major leagues, Collins said after the game he is stepping down after seven seasons, the longest tenure in Mets history. Expected to contend for an NL East title, the Mets went 70-92 in their worst season since finishing with the same record in 2009.
INDIANS 3, WHITE SOX 1
CLEVELAND (AP) — Jay Bruce had a two-run single, Josh Tomlin pitched into the sixth inning and the Indians got their AL-best 102nd victory, beating the White Sox.
Cleveland will next play an AL Division Series against the winner of the wild-card game between the Yankees and Twins. The 102 victories were the second most in franchise history behind the 1954 team’s 111.
Jose Ramirez went 2 for 2, including his AL-high 56th double, and Carlos Santana had a sacrifice fly for the Indians, who are seeking a second straight World Series appearance. Bruce’s two RBIs in the first inning gave him 100 for the second time in his career.
Tomlin (10-9) allowed a run and four hits. Cody Allen got his 30th save.
Chris Volstad (1-2) allowed three runs in six innings.
DODGERS 6, ROCKIES 3
DENVER (AP) — Corey Seager had three hits to break out of a funk and the Dodgers headed into the postseason on a high note, holding off the playoff-bound Rockies.
At 104-58, the Dodgers finished tied for the second-most wins in franchise history with the 1942 squad (104-50) in Brooklyn. The ’53 team went 105-49.
Colorado wrapped up the regular season 87-75 for its best mark since 2009, which was the last time the team went to the postseason before clinching the second NL wild-card spot Saturday.
The Rockies travel to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks in a one-game playoff on Wednesday. The winner will meet Los Angeles in Game 1 of an NL Division Series on Friday at Dodger Stadium.
ASTROS 4, RED SOX 3
BOSTON (AP) — Jose Altuve coasted to his third AL batting title despite going hitless in two at-bats, and the Astros scored four times in the seventh inning to rally from a three-run deficit and beat the Red Sox in a preview of their AL Division Series matchup.
Altuve finished the season with a .346 average to easily beat Avasail Garcia of the Chicago White Sox, who finished at .330, for the batting crown. The Astros second baseman is the third right-handed hitter since 1900 to win three or more batting titles.
One day after the Red Sox won to clinch the first back-to-back AL East titles in franchise history, the teams filled out their lineups with backups to play a meaningless Game 162. Houston had already replaced starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel with Collin McHugh (5-2), and Boston manager John Farrell scratched ace Chris Sale after Saturday’s win so he could rest up for the playoffs.
The best-of-five ALDS begins Thursday in Houston.
DIAMONDBACKS 14, ROYALS 2
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar tipped their caps and likely said goodbye to Kansas City’s fans, and then the playoff-bound Diamondbacks ended the regular season with a win over the Royals.
The foursome joined the Royals in 2011 and keyed the team’s run into consecutive World Series, including a championship in 2015. They are all eligible for free agency after the season.
Manager Ned Yost pulled the group together with one out in the fifth inning. The players hugged behind the pitchers’ mound, then waved their caps to the cheering crowd as they walked off the field. Salvador Perez, who also debuted with Kansas City in 2011, embraced the group on the top step of the dugout.
The Royals played a video honoring the players after the game, and fans stayed and applauded.
GIANTS 5, PADRES 4
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pablo Sandoval hit a game-ending solo homer with one out in the ninth inning, lifting the Giants over the Padres.
Cueto had a rocky outing on the last day of the season, allowing four runs and 12 hits in five innings. Cueto can opt out of the $130 million, six-year contract he signed before the 2016 season and become a free agent.
Sandoval hit a 3-2 fastball from rookie Phil Maton (3-2). It was his fifth homer in 47 games since returning to San Francisco this summer.
Giants reliever Hunter Strickland (4-3) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
After the game, San Francisco honored retiring pitcher Matt Cain on his 33rd birthday. Cain made the final appearances of his 13-year career Saturday.
BREWERS 6, CARDINALS 1
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Aaron Wilkerson took a perfect game into the sixth inning, Brett Phillips hit a three-run homer and the Brewers closed out their near-miss of a season with a victory over the Cardinals.
Jesus Aguliar added a two-run homer in the eighth for the Brewers, who finished 86-76, 13 games ahead of last year’s pace. They were in first place or tied for the top spot in the NL Central for 65 days, but ultimately they were eliminated from wild-card contention with a loss on Saturday.
St. Louis finished the season 83-79, three games worse than last year. The Cardinals failed to make the postseason in back-to-back to years for the first time since 2007-2008.
Wilkerson (1-0) allowed one run on two hits over seven innings. He set down the first 17 hitters before Jose Martinez delivered a pinch-hit single to right with two out in the sixth.
REDS 3, CUBS 1
CHICAGO (AP) — Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant each had a light day of work as the Cubs prepared for the playoffs by playing much of their roster during a loss to Deck McGuire and the Reds.
Most of Chicago’s starting lineup was gone by the fifth inning. Rizzo flied out leading off the first, and then was replaced in the field by Taylor Davis. Bryant and shortstop Addison Russell were pulled after the NL Central champion Cubs batted in the fourth.
Chicago (92-70) is trying to become the first team to repeat as World Series champions since the New York Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000. It will face Washington in the NL Division Series beginning on Friday.
ATHLETICS 5, RANGERS 2
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Daniel Mengden struck out eight, Khris Davis hit his career-best 43rd homer and the last-place Athletics ended the season with a win at Texas.
The Athletics (75-87) finished at the bottom of the AL West for the third consecutive season, a franchise first, but won six more games than last season thanks to 17 victories in their last 24 games. Manager Bob Melvin even got a contract extension this week, adding a year through 2019.
Texas didn’t have a base runner against Mengden (3-2) until Adrian Beltre’s 3,048th career hit, a single leading off the fifth. Mengden walked one and allowed only four singles in his seven innings.
Blake Treinen worked the ninth for his 16th save in 21 chances.
BLUE JAYS 2, YANKEES 1
NEW YORK (AP) — Jose Bautista singled off the wall and hit a sacrifice fly in what was probably his final game with Toronto, and the Blue Jays edged the playoff-bound Yankees.
Matt Holliday homered for the Yankees in a tuneup for the AL wild-card game Tuesday night at home against Minnesota. The winner faces AL Central champion Cleveland in a best-of-five Division Series beginning Thursday.
New York swept a three-game series at home against the Twins from Sept. 18-20 and won the season series 4-2.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi rested several regulars, including slugger Aaron Judge, and removed a handful of others early in the game. The Yankees finished 91-71, a seven-game improvement over last year and their best record since going 95-67 in 2012, the last time they won the AL East.
ANGELS 6, MARINERS 2
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Parker Bridwell pitched seven scoreless innings in a duel with James Paxton, Eric Young Jr. hit a three-run homer and the Angels beat the Mariners
Paxton shut out Los Angeles for six innings, but Young homered off James Pazos during a six-run seventh inning.
Bridwell (10-3) allowed three hits and a walk while striking out three. Acquired in a trade with Baltimore in April, Bridwell finished the year with a 3.64 ERA.
Paxton allowed three hits and struck out nine in his best start since returning from the disabled list in mid-September.
Shae Simmons (0-2) was charged with four of Seattle’s runs in the breakout seventh.
TWINS 5, TIGERS 1
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Bartolo Colon made a final bid to be included in Minnesota’s postseason rotation, pitching one-run ball into the seventh inning to lead the Twins to a victory over the Tigers.
Jason Castro homered and drove in three runs for the Twins, who play an AL wild-card game in New York against the Yankees on Tuesday night. A win would put the Twins in an ALDS against Cleveland, where Minnesota may need an experienced arm like Colon (5-6).
Anibal Sanchez (3-7) gave up three runs and seven hits and struck out six in five innings for the Tigers.
RAYS 6, ORIOLES 0
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Blake Snell struck out a career-high 13 in seven innings and the Rays beat the Orioles.
The Rays won their last four games to finish at 80-82, a 12-game improvement over last season.
Snell (5-7) struck eight of the first 12 Orioles before Trey Mancini led off the fifth with a clean single up the middle for Baltimore’s first hit. The left-hander went 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA over his last 10 starts after going 0-6 with a 4.98 ERA in his first 14 starts.
Curt Casali hit his first homer of the season, connecting off Kevin Gausman (11-12) in the fifth.
PIRATES 11, NATIONALS 8
WASHINGTON (AP) — Gio Gonzalez gave up five runs in the first inning of yet another concerning outing for a Nationals starting pitcher, and the NL East champions wrapped up the regular season with a loss to the Pirates.
Gonzalez (15-9) needed 39 pitches across 16 arduous minutes to record the game’s first three outs, while his ERA rose from 2.75 to 2.96 just in that opening inning. The Pirates batted around as the lefty walked two batters, hit Jordan Luplow to force in a run with the bases loaded and allowed Max Moroff’s three-run double along with Jacob Stallings’ RBI single.
This came a day after 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer left his last pre-playoffs start for Washington in the fourth inning after feeling something wrong with his right hamstring. At least Scherzer sounded optimistic about things Sunday, saying that an MRI exam showed he had only “tweaked” his muscle, not strained it.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
THAT’S A WRAP
Even though all 15 games start just after 3 p.m. EDT, the final day of the regular season figures to be a quiet one. With every spot secured and pairings already set, all 10 playoff teams can rest up and prepare for the postseason, which begins Tuesday night with Minnesota at the New York Yankees in the AL wild-card game. Boston clinched consecutive AL East titles for the first time in franchise history Saturday with a 6-3 victory over Houston. Colorado took the last playoff berth when Milwaukee wasted a six-run lead in a 7-6 loss to St. Louis. The Rockies play at division rival Arizona in the NL wild-card game Wednesday.
Giancarlo Stanton gets one more shot at hitting his 60th home run when the Marlins host the Braves. Rookie left-hander Max Fried (1-1, 3.74 ERA) starts for Atlanta. Stanton is trying to become the first player to reach the milestone since 2001 when Barry Bonds hit 73 and Sammy Sosa had 64. There have been five players in history to hit at least 60 in a season. Stanton remained at 59 after going 1 for 5 with an RBI single Saturday night during Miami’s 10-2 win.
With slugger Bryce Harper just back from a knee injury, the last thing Washington wants going into the playoffs is to be worrying about Max Scherzer’s health. The ace right-hander was pulled from his start Saturday night against Pittsburgh, stumbling on a fourth-inning pitch and leaving with a cramp in his right hamstring. He was sent for a precautionary MRI, a team spokesperson said, and manager Dusty Baker downplayed the severity of the injury. It was Scherzer’s final tuneup before the NL East champion Nationals play the Chicago Cubs in a best-of-five Division Series beginning Friday. Scherzer, a top contender for his third Cy Young Award, leads the National League with 268 strikeouts. He is 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA.
MAYBE THIS TIME
Perhaps outfielder Michael Brantley will get a few more at-bats for the Indians in their regular-season finale against the White Sox. Brantley was activated from the disabled list Saturday, and Cleveland is deciding whether to include him on the roster for its AL Division Series, which starts Thursday at home against the Yankees or Twins. Brantley had been sidelined since Aug. 9 with a right ankle injury. The two-time All-Star pinch-hit and singled sharply off right-hander Carson Fulmer. “I just want to make sure that we’re not putting him in a spot that isn’t right, so we’re going to talk for a little bit,” Indians manager Terry Francona said before the game. “He’s tried so hard to come back, and believe me, we appreciate what he’s trying to do. I just want to talk to him at length because he’s got a career ahead of himself.” The 30-year-old Brantley was hitting .301 with nine homers and 52 RBIs in 89 games. He missed the postseason last year — and Cleveland’s dramatic run to the World Series — after undergoing right shoulder surgery.
JUST ME AND YOU
The Astros and Red Sox wrap up the regular season at Fenway Park before beginning an immediate rematch in the ALDS, starting Thursday in Houston. “We’re both division champions,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’ll obviously see a lot of each other over the next 10 days.” Not surprisingly, both teams plan to hold back top starters Sunday and prep them for the playoff series. Collin McHugh pitches for Houston instead of Dallas Keuchel, who will throw a simulated game. Hector Velazquez goes for the Red Sox in place of ace Chris Sale. “Chris is deserving of a couple of extra days to just get some rest,” Boston manager John Farrell said.
DENVER (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs Saturday by beating Colorado 5-3 on a night when the Rockies clinched their first postseason appearance since 2009.
It was the Dodgers’ 103rd win of the season, the most since the team moved to Los Angeles. At 103-58, they’re assured of the best record in baseball.
Healing from a sore knee, Chris Taylor drove in the go-ahead run with a groundout in the seventh after Tyler Chatwood (8-15) hit both Yasiel Puig and Chase Utley to start the inning. Puig finished 2 for 2 with a homer, walk and four runs.
Carlos Gonzalez hit a solo homer off Clayton Kershaw for the Rockies, who officially wrapped up the second NL wild card spot when St. Louis rallied to beat Milwaukee earlier in the day.
Brandon Morrow (6-0) picked up the win, and Kenley Jansen earned his 41st save on his 30th birthday.
RED SOX 6, ASTROS 3
BOSTON (AP) — David Price came on in relief of Drew Pomeranz and squelched a dangerous seventh-inning rally, helping Boston clinch the first back-to-back AL East titles in franchise history.
The Red Sox avoided the possibility of a one-game tiebreaker with the rival Yankees, and instead left New York with a wild-card spot. Boston also set up an immediate rematch with the Astros in the playoffs.
Mookie Betts homered and scored three times, and Pomeranz (17-6) was charged with one run in six-plus innings.
Lance McCullers (7-4), who was pitching for a spot in Houston’s postseason rotation, allowed five runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings.
CARDINALS 7, BREWERS 6
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Milwaukee was eliminated from playoff contention when it squandered a six-run lead in a loss to St. Louis, handing baseball’s final postseason spot to Colorado.
Brewers reliever Anthony Swarzak (6-4) gave up a tying, two-run single to Stephen Piscotty in the eighth inning and a go-ahead single to Harrison Bader. Milwaukee tried to rally in the ninth, but Brett Phillips struck out with a runner on second to end it.
Milwaukee’s loss clinched the second NL wild card for Colorado, which plays at division rival Arizona in the wild-card game Wednesday. The winner advances to a best-of-five Division Series against the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ryan Sherriff (2-1) pitched a scoreless inning for the win, and Juan Nicasio worked the ninth for his sixth save.
PIRATES 4, NATIONALS 1
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nationals ace Max Scherzer was pulled with a hamstring cramp while tuning up for the playoffs.
The Nationals said Scherzer was sent for a precautionary MRI on his right hamstring. Manager Dusty Baker downplayed the severity of the injury.
The Pirates rallied with four runs in the ninth inning off Brandon Kintzler (2-1). Sean Rodriguez singled home the tying run with Pittsburgh down to its final strike. Max Moroff added a bases-loaded triple.
George Kontos (1-6) got the win and Felipe Rivero had his 21st save.
TIGERS 3, TWINS 2
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Romine became the fifth player in baseball history to play all nine positions in one game, helping the Tigers to the win.
Romine, a 31-year-old utilityman, played catcher for the first time in his career and got one out on the mound. He was the first player to accomplish the feat since Shane Halter for Detroit against Minnesota on Oct. 1, 2000.
Buck Farmer (5-5) pitched five strong innings for the win and Shane Greene recorded his ninth save. Aaron Slegers (0-1) took the loss for the Twins, allowing three runs in 4 1/3 innings.
YANKEES 2, BLUE JAYS 1
NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge hit his 52nd homer, powering the Yankees to the win.
The Yankees will host Minnesota in the wild-card game Tuesday after the Red Sox clinched the AL East title with a 6-3 victory against Houston.
Replacement starter CC Sabathia (14-5) won his fifth straight decision. With New York still in contention for the division title to begin the day, manager Joe Girardi opted for Sabathia to pitch on his regular four days’ rest in place of the originally scheduled Jaime Garcia.
Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save in 26 chances.
Toronto right-hander Marcus Stroman (13-9) allowed two runs and six hits in four innings. The Blue Jays scored in the eighth on Josh Donaldson’s sacrifice fly.
PADRES 3, GIANTS 2
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Matt Cain pitched five shutout innings for San Francisco, then raised his arms and waved his cap, fighting off tears amid a standing ovation as he walked off the mound for final time.
Cain’s decorated 13-year career came to an end and the home crowd at AT&T Park saluted the right-hander, a cornerstone of the Giants’ championship era who pitched the only perfect game in franchise history.
Cain made his last start a day ahead of his 33rd birthday and at the close of a $127.5 million, six-year contract. Beset by injuries in recent years, Cain has said he couldn’t imagine pitching for another team.
Wil Myers hit his 30th homer off Giants reliever Reyes Moronta in the sixth. San Diego jumped in front in the ninth on Austin Hedges’ two-out, two-run double off Sam Dyson (3-4).
Buddy Baumann (2-1) pitched a scoreless eighth and Brad Hand worked the ninth for his 21st save.
MARLINS 10, BRAVES 2
MIAMI (AP) — Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton remained at 59 home runs, but Derek Dietrich connected for the Marlins.
Stanton went 1 for 5 and drove in a run. He has one more game to become the first player to hit 60 home runs in a season since 2001 when Barry Bonds hit 73 and Sammy Sosa hit 64.
Dietrich drove in three runs, and Odrisamer Despaigne (2-3) pitched seven innings of two-run ball.
Atlanta right-hander Lucas Sims (3-6) allowed six runs in two innings.
WHITE SOX 2, INDIANS 1
CLEVELAND (AP) — Carson Fulmer pitched five strong innings and Kevan Smith drove in two runs, leading the White Sox to the road win.
Cleveland clinched the best record in the AL earlier in the day when Houston lost to Boston. The AL Central champions will play the winner of the wild-card game between the Yankees and Twins in the AL Division Series.
Michael Brantley had a pinch-hit single in the fifth for Cleveland, marking his first game action since spraining his right ankle on Aug. 8. He worked Fulmer (3-1) for a 10-pitch at-bat before sharply singling to right.
Smith doubled off Mike Clevinger (12-6) in the sixth, scoring Avisail Garcia for a 2-1 lead. His RBI single in the fourth off Corey Kluber scored Jose Abreu.
Juan Minaya tossed a perfect ninth for his ninth save.
ROYALS 4, DIAMONDBACKS 3
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jorge Bonifacio hit a three-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning to help Kansas City to the victory.
Bonifacio’s homer, his 17th, came against Archie Bradley (3-3) with Paulo Orlando and Ramon Torres aboard.
Kansas City’s Jake Junis (9-3) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings. Mike Minor worked around a leadoff double in the ninth to collect his sixth save in eight chances.
Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt went 0 for 3 and finished September with a .175 batting average (14 for 80).
CUBS 9, REDS 0
CHICAGO (AP) — Jon Lester struck out seven over five innings, Kyle Schwarber hit his 30th home run and the NL Central champion Cubs earned their 15th win in 18 games.
Lester (13-8) allowed four hits and walked none in a possible tuneup for Game 1 of the NL Division Series against Washington.
Schwarber finished with four RBIs. He hit a two-run drive in the second and a two-run single in the third against rookie Jackson Stephens (2-1).
The last-place Reds lost for the 10th time in 11 games.
MARINERS 6, ANGELS 4
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mitch Haniger had five hits and Kyle Seager launched a three-run homer to highlight a five-run eighth inning that rallied Seattle to the victory.
The Mariners also got home runs from Yonder Alonso and rookie Jacob Hannemann. Casey Lawrence (2-3) earned the victory in relief, and Edwin Diaz got four outs for his 34th save.
Seattle scored all five runs in the eighth off Cam Bedrosian (6-5), who allowed five consecutive hits without retiring a batter.
RANGERS 8, ATHLETICS 4
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Joey Gallo hit his 40th and 41st home runs, Andrew Cashner pitched six solid innings and the Rangers beat the Athletics.
Gallo belted a two-run drive in the second inning and a solo shot in the third, becoming the sixth Ranger to hit 40 homers in a season and the first since Josh Hamilton had 43 in 2010.
Cashner (11-11) limited Oakland two runs in six innings.
Oakland’s Daniel Gossett (4-11) was charged with four runs in 1 2/3 innings.
RAYS 4, ORIOLES 3
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Chris Archer won for the first time since Aug. 22, and Brad Miller hit a three-run homer for the Rays.
Archer (10-12) pitched five shutout innings. Alex Colome worked the ninth for his major league-leading 47th save.
Miller connected against Miguel Castro (3-3) in the fourth for his ninth homer. Kevin Kiermaier scored on Wilson Ramos’ sacrifice fly in the seventh.
METS 7, PHILLIES 4, 11 INNINGS
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Asdrubal Cabrera hit a three-run homer with two outs in the 11th inning, sending the Mets to the road win.
Cabrera finished with four hits and four RBIs. Jacob Rhame (1-1) pitched two shutout innings for his first major league win, and Jeurys Familia tossed a scoreless 11th for his sixth save.
Cabrera extended a Mets record with the club’s 224th homer of the season, sending his drive to left-center off Adam Morgan (3-3).
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
This gallery contains 1 photo.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Addison Russell hit a three-run homer and John Lackey pitched six strong innings as the Chicago Cubs clinched their second consecutive NL Central title with a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.
The Cubs reached the postseason for the third straight year for the first time since 1908. They are also the first defending World Series champion to win their division the next season since the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies and the first defending champion to reach the playoffs the next season since the Cardinals won the wild card in 2012.
Lackey (12-11) retired the final 10 batters he faced. The former Cardinal struck out three and gave up two hits and two walks.
Six Cubs relievers combined for three scoreless innings of relief.
Michael Wacha (12-9) was chased after allowing the first six Cubs to reach base in the seventh.
INDIANS 4, TWINS 2
CLEVELAND (AP) — From worst to wild card, the Minnesota Twins have completed a most remarkable reversal.
A couple hours after losing 4-2 to Cleveland, the Twins earned an AL wild-card berth the Angels lost 6-4 in 10 innings to White Sox.
A season after winning just 59 games, the Twins became the first team to lose at least 100 and then make the postseason the following year.
Manager Paul Molitor’s team will play Tuesday night at either Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park in the wild-card game. Boston holds a three-game lead over New York in the AL East race.
Cleveland scored two runs off Adalberto Mejia (4-7). Mike Clevinger (12-5) won in relief for the Indians.
WHITE SOX 6, ANGELS 4, 10 INNINGS
CHICAGO (AP) — Nicky Delmonico hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift Chicago and eliminate the Angels from playoff contention.
Delmonico, who had three hits and three RBIs, connected off Blake Parker (3-3).
Danny Farquhar (4-2) got the win.
ROCKIES 15, MARLINS 9
DENVER (AP) — Ian Desmond homered during a six-run second inning and playoff-chasing Colorado won hours after Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Marlins to an investment group featuring Derek Jeter.
Charlie Blackmon reached 100 RBIs for the Rockies, who with three games left are in prime position to contend for their first postseason berth since 2009. They are 2 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for the second NL wild-card spot.
Jon Gray (10-4) lasted six innings and hasn’t allowed more than three runs in 13 straight starts. Adam Conley (7-8) gave up six runs in 1 1/3 innings.
REDS 6, BREWERS 0
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Brewers rookie Brandon Woodruff was chased in a five-run third inning and Milwaukee’s postseason hopes took another hit.
The Brewers have lost five of seven. They’ve dropped 2 ½ games behind Colorado for the second NL wild-card spot with only four games left.
Joey Votto hit his team-high 36th home run and Homer Bailey (6-9) threw seven strong innings for the Reds. Woodruff (2-3) made his major league debut last month.
RED SOX 10, BLUE JAYS 7
BOSTON (AP) — Reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello struggled in his final playoff tuneup, and David Price relieved him to solidify his role on the postseason roster as Boston lowered its magic number to two for winning the AL East.
Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts homered in a five-run third inning for the Red Sox after Porcello (11-17) gave up three runs in the first.
Boston, which is already guaranteed a playoff berth, maintained a three-game lead in the division over the second-place Yankees. The Red Sox could clinch the first back-to-back AL East titles in franchise history with a victory over Houston on Thursday and a New York loss to the Rays.
Marco Estrada (10-9) took the loss.
YANKEES 6, RAYS 1
NEW YORK (AP) — Luis Severino cruised through his final postseason tuneup and Starlin Castro, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks all homered in the sixth inning for New York.
The Yankees remained three behind AL East-leading Boston with four to play.
Severino (14-6) struck out nine and allowed a run in six innings. He is lined up to start New York’s playoff opener. The Yankees would host the AL wild-card game Tuesday against Minnesota if they don’t win the division.
Matt Andriese (5-5) took the loss.
DODGERS 10, PADRES 0
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rich Hill allowed two hits over seven innings and Yasiel Puig, Curtis Granderson and Corey Seager homered to power Los Angeles.
The Dodgers own the best record in baseball and tied the Los Angeles franchise record for wins in a season at 102, which was last done in 1974.
Hill (12-8) struck out 10. The Dodgers will host the first game of the NLDS against the to-be-determined wild-card winner on Oct. 6 at Dodger Stadium.
ASTROS 12, RANGERS 2
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Justin Verlander struck out 11 to win his fifth straight start since getting traded to Houston, major league batting leader Jose Altuve reached 200 hits for the fourth season in a row, and the AL West champion Astros completed a dominating three-game sweep.
Carlos Correa hit two home runs and George Springer had a grand slam as Houston outscored Texas 37-7 in the series. The Rangers lost their sixth straight game.
Verlander (15-8) matched his season high for strikeouts while allowing two runs without a walk in six innings. He is 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA in his five starts since being traded from Detroit to Houston on Aug. 31.
Altuve, who is hitting .347, got his 200th hit on a single in the first off Nick Martinez (3-8).
DIAMONDBACKS 4, GIANTS 3
PHOENIX (AP) — J.D. Martinez hit his 16th homer in September during a three-run rally in the ninth inning that lifted Arizona over San Francisco.
Martinez tied Ralph Kiner’s 1949 NL record for home runs in September. The major league record is 17, shared by Babe Ruth and Albert Belle.
Martinez has 45 homers this season, 29 of them since being traded from Detroit to the Diamondbacks on July 18. His 36 RBIs in a month set an Arizona record, topping Luis Gonzalez’s 35 in June 2001.
David Peralta drew a bases-loaded walk to cap the comeback in the ninth. The next time Arizona plays at Chase Field will be next Wednesday in the NL wild-card game.
All of the runs were charged to Giants closer Sam Dyson (3-3). J.J. Hoover (3-1) earned the win in relief.
PHILLIES 7, NATIONALS 5
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Aaron Altherr had two hits and drove in two runs to lead Philadelphia over Washington.
Nationals starter Tanner Roark (13-11) struggled with command, walking five hitters and allowing six earned runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Bryce Harper was 1 for 4 with a single and a run scored in his second game since returning from a hyperextended left knee.
Rookie Yacksel Rios (1-0) got his first career victory. Hector Neris worked a perfect ninth for his 20th consecutive save conversion and 26th in 29 opportunities overall.
METS 7, BRAVES 1
NEW YORK (AP) — Terry Collins was a winner in perhaps his final home game as manager of the New York Mets.
Travis d’Arnaud drove in three runs and pinch-hitter Dominic Smith launched a three-run homer for the Mets, who won their third straight and finished 37-44 at Citi Field this year. They wrap up the season with three games in Philadelphia this weekend.
The 68-year-old Collins, oldest manager in the majors, has said he has no plans to retire and would like to keep working until age 70 — even if that means somewhere else in baseball. His contract expires after this season, and the Mets (69-90) are expected to make changes following a hugely disappointing season derailed by injuries and underperformance.
Robert Gsellman (8-7) capped his inconsistent season by throwing six steady innings. Sean Newcomb (4-9) took the loss.
ROYALS 7, TIGERS 4
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Paulo Orlando hit a two-run homer and Kansas City sent Detroit to its ninth straight loss.
The Tigers are 4-22 in September and have been outscored 68-30 in the skid. The last time Detroit lost nine in a row was 2005.
Orlando’s home run was his first since Sept. 19, 2016, going 117 at-bats between long balls.
Scott Alexander (5-4) went 1 1/3 scoreless innings and Mike Minor got his fourth save. Drew VerHagen (0-3) gave up the home run to Orlando,
ATHLETICS 6, MARINERS 5
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Mark Canha hit a solo home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning that sent Oakland over Seattle.
Canha’s fifth homer this season came against Shae Simmons (0-1).
The A’s avoided a three-game sweep and snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Mariners. Matt Joyce tied an Oakland record with three doubles.
Blake Treinen (3-4) pitched a scoreless ninth.
PIRATES 5, ORIOLES 3
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Josh Bell hit a two-run homer and Pittsburgh beat Baltimore.
Bell’s 25th home run came off Gabriel Ynoa (2-3).
Chad Kuhl (8-11) went five-plus innings and Felipe Rivero pitched the ninth for his 20th save in 22 chances.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge broke Mark McGwire’s major league record for home runs by a rookie, hitting a pair for the second straight day to raise his total to 50 and lead the New York Yankees over the Kansas City Royals 11-3 Monday.
The 6-foot-7, 25-year-old slugger tied the mark with a two-run drive to right-center off Jakob Junis (8-3) in the third inning that put New York ahead 3-0. His solo shot to left against Trevor Cahill in the seventh made it 7-3 and earned him a rare curtain call.
Judge has 13 home runs in September and six in five games, and he is second in the majors behind Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, who has 57. Judge has four multihomer games this month and seven this season.
McGwire hit 49 homers for Oakland in 1987.
Greg Bird added a two-run homer in the sixth. Gary Sanchez followed Judge in the seventh with back-to-
CC Sabathia (13-5) took a 6-0 lead into the seventh, when Salvador Perez hit a two-run homer and Mike Moustakas chased the left-hander by going deep four pitches later. Sabathia improved to 9-0 in 11 starts this year after Yankees losses.
New York moved within four games of AL East-leading Boston with six to play. Kansas City was pushed to the brink of postseason elimination.
CUBS 10, CARDINALS 2
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Addison Russell hit a three-run double in the first inning, then made a food run for a fan in enemy territory while Chicago beat St. Louis to move within a victory of clinching its second straight NL Central title.
Kris Bryant and Javier Baez homered for the Cubs, who can wrap up the division with a win Tuesday against the Cardinals or a loss by Milwaukee against Cincinnati.
Russell helped the Cubs get to starter Luke Weaver (7-2) early, then made some friends out of rival fans. After diving into the stands chasing a foul ball down the third-base line and spilling a fan’s tray of chips, Russell emerged from the dugout a few innings later with a plate of nachos and delivered it to the fan. Russell stopped to take a selfie before heading back to play shortstop.
The loss eliminated St. Louis from NL Central contention and dimmed the Cardinals’ wild-card hopes.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was taken out of the game in the seventh after he took two foul balls off his mask. St. Louis announced he is in concussion protocol.
Jon Lester (12-8) allowed one run in six innings. Chicago is 11-2 in its last 13 games.
Weaver gave up eight runs in three innings. He had won seven consecutive starts, the longest by a Cardinals rookie since Ted Wilks in 1944.
BLUE JAYS 6, RED SOX 4
BOSTON (AP) — Josh Donaldson homered and drove in three runs, powering Toronto past AL East-leading Boston.
Boston’s six-game winning streak was snapped and its magic number to clinch a second straight division title remained at three.
Eduardo Nunez and Mookie Betts both left with injuries for the Red Sox. Nunez aggravated a right knee injury that sidelined him for 13 games, and Betts came out with pain in his left wrist.
Ryan Goins hit a solo homer and Teoscar Hernandez had a two-run double for the Blue Jays. Brett Anderson (2-2) allowed three runs in five innings.
Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz (16-6) had his shortest start of the season, giving up five runs and seven hits in two innings. He had only lost once in his last 18 outings.
Roberto Osuna got three outs for his 38th save.
MARLINS 5, ROCKIES 4
DENVER (AP) — Miguel Rojas had a career-high four RBIs and Miami trimmed Colorado’s lead for the second NL wild card to 1½ games over Milwaukee.
With five games remaining, the Rockies have lost six of eight and are clinging to a postseason spot as they seek their first playoff berth since 2009.
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton went hitless in five at-bats and remained at 57 homers. Odrisamer Despaigne (1-3) allowed two runs over six innings.
Jonathan Lucroy homered for Colorado, which rallied from a 5-1 deficit but failed to get a big hit late. Kyle Barraclough earned his first major league save when Charlie Blackmon hit into a game-ending double play.
After rain delayed the start by 26 minutes, Miami got five straight hits in a four-run fourth against starter Tyler Chatwood (8-14).
DODGERS 9, PADRES 3
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Yu Darvish pitched two-hit ball over seven innings and Los Angeles beat San Diego to reach 100 wins for the first time in 43 years.
Logan Forsythe went 3 for 3 with a home run and four RBIs as the NL West champions moved 1½ games ahead of Cleveland for the best record in the majors and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Los Angeles (100-57) can secure home-field edge for the entire NL playoffs Tuesday with a win and a Washington loss.
Austin Barnes hit a three-run homer for the Dodgers, who hadn’t reached the century mark since winning 102 regular-season games in 1974.
Darvish (10-12) was perfect through four innings and didn’t allow a hit until Hunter Renfroe doubled with one out in the fifth. The right-hander permitted one run while striking out nine and walking none.
Padres starter Travis Wood (4-7) allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings.
WHITE SOX 4, ANGELS 2
CHICAGO (AP) — James Shields tossed seven strong innings, Nicky Delmonico hit a two-run double and Chicago damaged Los Angeles’ slim playoff hopes.
With six games remaining, the Angels trail Minnesota by five games for the second AL wild card.
Mike Trout hit his 30th homer for the Angels, who have dropped seven of eight.
Shields (5-7) allowed two runs and four hits. Juan Minaya got three outs for his seventh save.
Ricky Nolasco (6-15) allowed four runs, two earned, in five-plus innings.
MARINERS 7, ATHLETICS 1
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Mitch Haniger homered twice and Felix Hernandez won for the first time in more than two months as Seattle defeated Oakland.
A day after being eliminated from playoff contention, the slumping Mariners snapped Oakland’s season-high seven-game winning streak and its eight-game run at home. Seattle had lost eight of nine.
Hernandez (6-5) gave up one run in six innings of two-hit ball. King Felix hadn’t won since July 15, a stretch that included a stint on the disabled list from Aug. 2 to Sept. 13 with right shoulder bursitis. He was 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in his previous five starts.
A’s rookie Daniel Gossett (4-10) gave up seven runs and a career-high four homers. Mike Zunino hit a three-run shot and Yonder Alonso also went deep for the Mariners.
Andrew Albers pitched three shutout innings for his first save.
ASTROS 11, RANGERS 2
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Marwin Gonzalez had four hits and three RBIs as AL West champion Houston put Texas on the brink of elimination in the wild-card race.
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, the American League leader with 199 hits and a .348 batting average, left in the eighth inning after he was hit by a 95 mph fastball. The team said X-rays were negative and Altuve had a bruised forearm.
Gonzalez had two hits and scored twice in an eight-run fourth, including a two-run single that chased starter Andrew Cashner (10-11). Gonzalez later hit his 23rd homer, a solo shot in the sixth.
Collin McHugh (4-2) struck out six while throwing 112 pitches in five innings. The right-hander is 15-0 with a 2.94 ERA in 19 starts in September or October during his four seasons with the Astros.
Texas (76-80), division champs the past two years, had an early 2-0 lead before losing its fourth straight game. The Rangers dropped six games behind idle Minnesota for the second AL wild card with six to play.
Only one of the eight runs in the Astros’ fourth was earned.
NATIONALS 3, PHILLIES 1
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Michael Taylor homered, A.J. Cole allowed one run while pitching into the sixth inning and Washington defeated Philadelphia.
The NL East champion Nationals extended their franchise record with 50 road wins.
Bryce Harper remained out of Washington’s lineup with flu-like symptoms. The team had said it was possible he would return Monday from a knee injury that’s kept him out since Aug. 12.
Odubel Herrera homered for the last-place Phillies.
Cole (3-5) struck out five and walked two. Sean Doolittle worked a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 21 chances with the Nationals since being acquired from Oakland on July 16.
Aaron Nola (12-11) allowed Taylor’s two-run homer in the second but otherwise pitched well.
GIANTS 9, DIAMONDBACKS 2
PHOENIX (AP) — Nick Hundley hit a three-run homer, Johnny Cueto pitched six solid innings and San Francisco beat the resting Arizona Diamondbacks.
Arizona sat most of its regulars a day after clinching the top NL wild card. The Diamondbacks made four errors.
Hunter Pence hit a solo shot in a five-run fourth against starter Zack Godley (8-9).
Cueto (8-8) held the Diamondbacks to two runs and five hits. He struck out eight and walked two.
BRAVES 9, METS 2, 1st game
METS 3, BRAVES 2, 2nd game
NEW YORK (AP) — Seth Lugo pitched two-hit ball over six innings and Travis d’Arnaud hit a record-setting homer for New York in the nightcap of a doubleheader split.
D’Arnaud hit his solo shot in the eighth inning. It was the 219th homer for the Mets, a franchise season mark. The sparse crowd at Citi Field jeered when the home run apple didn’t rise after d’Arnaud’s homer, then cheered when it finally came out of its bin three batters later.
Lugo (7-5) struck out seven and didn’t walk anybody. Jeurys Familia got his fifth save and second since returning from surgery to repair a blood clot in his right arm.
Max Fried (1-1) gave up two runs over 5 1/3 innings for Atlanta.
In the first game, Lucas Sims (3-5) turned in his second strong performance since returning to Atlanta’s rotation, allowing two runs and five hits over a career-high 6 2/3 innings. Chris Flexen (3-5) took the loss.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Bruce Maxwell became the first major league baseball player to kneel during the national anthem, and Khris Davis hit his 40th home run to lift the Oakland Athletics over the Texas Rangers 1-0 on Saturday night.
Maxwell dropped to a knee and pressed his cap against his chest just outside Oakland’s dugout during the anthem, adopting a protest started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in response to police treatment of blacks.
Davis homered against Miguel Gonzalez (8-12) leading off the second as the A’s won their season-high sixth straight. Raul Alcantara (1-1) allowed two hits in five innings, Blake Treinen finished for his 11th save..
YANKEES 5, BLUE JAYS 1
TORONTO (AP) — New York returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence, clinching no worse than a wild card as Greg Bird hit a three-run homer and Sonny Gray (10-11) allowed one run and four hits in six innings.
Unless New York overcomes Boston’s four-game lead the AL East, the Yankees would play in the AL wild-card game on Oct. 3, most likely at home against Minnesota.
Toronto was eliminated with the defeat after consecutive losses in the AL Championship Series.
Bird, who spent much of the year sidelined and hampered by a right ankle injury, connected in the fifth off Joe Biagini (3-12) for his sixth home run of the season and third in seven games.
RED SOX 5, REDS 0
CINCINNATI (AP) — Mitch Moreland ended an 0-for-19 slump with a three-run homer off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth, and Eduardo Rodriguez (6-6) pitched three-hit ball into the eighth. Boston has won 13 of 16 and is trying to win consecutive AL East titles for the first time.
Cincinnati reliever Luke Farrell, the son of Red Sox manager John Farrell, pitched the ninth and tipped his cap toward the Boston dugout as he left the mound following a scoreless inning.
BREWERS 4, CUBS 3
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer with one out in the 10th iff All-Star closer Wade Davis (4-2), who had been successful in all 32 of his save chances this season until Orlando Arcia led off the ninth with a tying home run.
Milwaukee moved within 4½ games of NL Central-leading Chicago and closed within one game of Colorado for the NL’s second wild-card spot.
Chicago went ahead 3-2 in the 10th on Jon Jay’s single off Jeremy Jeffress (4-0).
PADRES 5, ROCKIES 0
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jhoulys Chacin (13-10) kept the Rockies hitless until DJ LeMahieu hit a sinking liner that diving center fielder Manuel Margot trapped with two outs in the sixth. Chacin and four relievers combined on a five-hitter.
Colorado was shut out for the third time in four games and has lost five of six.
Rockies starter Chad Bettis (1-4) was chased after allowing Yangervis Solarte’s RBI single with two outs in the fifth.
PIRATES 11, CARDINALS 6
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Lance Lynn (11-8) allowed eight runs and six hits while getting two outs for St. Louis (81-73), which remained 1½ games behind Colorado. The Cardinals stayed five games behind the Cubs in the NL Central.
Tommy Pham gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead against Gerrit Cole (12-11) two batters in with a two-run homer. Pham was 2 for 4 with three RBIs.
MARLINS 12, DIAMONDBACKS 6
PHOENIX (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton extended his club record with his 57th home run and set a team mark with his 125th RBI, preventing Arizona from clinching an NL wild card.
Miami scored five runs in the third, taking advantage of a pair of errors by Taijuan Walker (9-9), who allowed seven runs, six hits, three walks and a hit batter in 3 2/3 innings. Brian Ellington (1-1) won in relief.
TWINS 10, TIGERS 4
DETROIT (AP) — Zack Granite hit his first major league home run, a three-run drive that capped an eight-run eighth. Minnesota, which overcame a 3-1 seventh-inning deficit, won its third straight and leads Kansas City, the Los Angeles Angels and Texas by 4½ games for the second AL wild card.
Ervin Santana (16-8) allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.
Detroit pitcher Alex Wilson broke a leg in the eighth inning when hit by Joe Mauer’s line drive. Daniel Stumpf (0-1) followed and allowed three runs and three hits without retiring a batter in his first big league decision.
Detroit, which announced Friday that manager Brad Ausmus will not return next season, has lost six straight and at 62-93 will finish with its worst record since going 43-119 in 2003.
ASTROS 6, ANGELS 2
HOUSTON (AP) — Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer to back Charlie Morton (13-7), who yielded one run and four hits in seven innings for his second straight win.
Justin Upton hit two home runs for the Angels, who matched a season worst with their sixth straight loss.
Carlos Correa had three hits and three RBIs a day after his 23rd birthday as the AL West champion Astros won for the seventh time in eight games. Bud Norris (2-6) allowed three hits and one run over 3 1/3 innings.
ROYALS 8, WHITE SOX 2
CHICAGO (AP) — Alex Gordon homered, Whit Merrifield drove in three runs and Danny Duffy (9-9) allowed two runs and eight hits in six-plus innings for his first win since Aug. 22.
Jose Abreu went 1 for 4 and drove in two runs to reach the 100-RBI mark for the fourth straight season. The Chicago slugger is just the third major leaguer to begin his career with four straight seasons of at least 25 homers and 100 RBIs after Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols.
Dylan Covey (0-7) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings.
INDIANS 11, MARINERS 4
SEATTLE (AP) — Francisco Lindor led off the game with his 33rd home run, the most by a Cleveland middle infielder, and the Indians won for the 28th time in 30 games.
Carlos Carrasco (17-6) matched teammate Cory Kluber and Boston’s Chris Sale for the most wins in the AL, allowing one run and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. Yan Gomes homered twice and had four RBIs, and Jose Ramirez homered and drove in four runs.
Cleveland, which set the AL record with a 22-game winning streak this month, matched the 1884 Providence Grays for the best big league record over a 30-game span at 28-2. The Indians (97-58) lead Houston (95-59) for AL home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Seattle lost for the seventh time in eight games and fell six games behind Minnesota.
RAYS 9, ORIOLES 6
BALTIMORE (AP) — Lucas Duda hit a go-ahead, three-run homer, helping eliminate the Orioles from postseason contention. Baltimore (74-82), which closed with five runs in the ninth inning, is assured of finishing with a losing record for the first time since 2011.
Duda’s third-inning homer, his 30th overall and 13th since the Rays acquired him from the New York Mets, helped Tampa Bay take a 9-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth.
Tampa Bay (76-79) remained five games behind Minnesota with seven games remaining.
Jake Odorizzi (10-8) allowed an unearned run and three hits in six innings. Alex Colome retired Trey Mancini on a groundout for his major league-leading 46th save. Jeremy Hellickson (2-6 with the Orioles) gave up three runs and four hits over six innings.
NATIONALS 4, METS 3
NEW YORK (AP) — Daniel Murphy homered in the 10th off Jacob Rhame (0-1) and is hitting .393 with 35 RBIs in 37 games versus his former team.
Noah Syndergaard threw a five-pitch scoreless inning in his first major league appearance since partially tearing his right lat muscle on April 30. Matt Harvey took over for New York and allowed three runs in four innings.
Stephen Strasburg gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings. Sammy Solis (1-0) got the win, and Sean Doolittle completed his 20th save in 20 chances since being acquired from Oakland.
GIANTS 2, DODGERS 1
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Madison Bumgarner (4-9) allowed five hits in 7 2/3 innings, including Austin Barnes’ homer, ending a four-start losing streak. Gorkys Hernandez had three hits and scored both runs.
Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-8) in the third inning when Joe Panik hit a comebacker off his left forearm. The Dodgers said X-rays were negative and Ryu had a bruised forearm.
Sam Dyson pitched a scoreless ninth for his 14th save.
BRAVES 4, PHILLIES 2
ATLANTA (AP) — Pinch-hitter Johan Camargo hit a go-ahead, two-run double off Luis Garcia (2-5) in a three-run eighth inning and Rio Ruiz homered.
Rex Brothers (4-3) pitched a one-hit eighth, and Arodys Vizcaino struck out three in the ninth for his 13th save.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their fifth straight NL West title, beating the San Francisco Giants 4-2 on Friday night as Cody Bellinger set an NL rookie record with his 39th home run.
Los Angeles will open the NL Division Series at home on Oct. 6. The Dodgers are seeking to reach the World Series for the first time since 1988 under manager Tommy Lasorda, who was on hand at Dodger Stadium to celebrate his 90th birthday.
Bellinger hit a three-run homer in the third off Jeff Samardzija (9-15), topping the NL rookie mark set by Wally Berger in 1930 and matched by Frank Robinson in 1956.
After a record run that saw the Dodgers push their record to 91-36, they had gone just 6-20 — including a dismal 1-16 stretch — to make clinching their division more laborious than anticipated. Los Angeles stopped a nine-game home losing streak.
Rich Hill (11-8) allowed one run and five hits in six innings with ninth strikeouts. Pablo Sandoval homered leading off the ninth against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the next three batters for his 40th save in 41 chances.
CUBS 5, BREWERS 4, 10 INNINGS
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella drew a bases-loaded walk off All-Star closer Corey Knebel with one out in the 10th inning, helping the Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 on Friday night to tighten their grip on the NL Central.
The Cubs hold a five-game lead with nine days left in the regular season after winning their second straight tense game over the Brewers. Milwaukee dropped into third in the division, 5 1/2 games behind Chicago, after St. Louis beat Pittsburgh.
The Brewers had the tying run at first with one out in the bottom of the 10th, but Eric Sogard was called out at second trying to advance on a ball in the dirt. Shortstop Addison Russell appeared to hold the tag as Sogard’s foot lifted off second for a split-second, and the call was confirmed on review.
Knebel (1-4) took the loss after allowing three walks and two hits over two innings. Carl Edwards Jr. (5-4) got the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
MARINERS 3, INDIANS 1
SEATTLE (AP) — Nelson Cruz hit a game-ending two-run homer in the ninth inning, lifting Seattle over Cleveland.
Cruz lined a 2-1 pitch from closer Cody Allen (3-7) out to deep right-center field, snapping Seattle’s six-game skid and improving its very slim wild-card hopes. The Mariners are five games behind Minnesota for the last AL playoff spot with eight games remaining.
Cruz also cooled baseball’s hottest team. Cleveland lost for the second time since Aug. 23, a span of 29 games that included an historic 22-game winning streak. It ended a franchise-record 14-game road winning streak — the Indians hadn’t lost away from home since Aug. 20 at Kansas City.
Erasmo Ramirez shut down Cleveland for eight innings, and Edwin Diaz (4-6) pitched the ninth to cap a three-hitter.
CARDINALS 4, PIRATES 3
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Randal Grichuk scored after an error by shortstop Jordy Mercer, capping a frantic ninth-rally that lifted surging St. Louis over Pittsburgh.
The playoff-chasing Cardinals won their fourth straight, despite trailing by a run entering the ninth. They’re 1 1/2 games behind the Rockies for the final NL wild card.
Stephen Piscotty led off with a double to right against closer Felipe Rivero (5-3), and Jedd Gyorko followed with a pinch-hit RBI single. After Tommy Pham’s single, Grichuk pinch-ran for Gyorko at third. He scored when Mercer misplayed Dexter Fowler’s sharp groundball.
Former Pirates reliever Juan Nicasio (4-5) got the win after working the eighth and ninth. Fowler and Piscotty had two hits each.
ROCKIES 4, PADRES 1
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Nolan Arenado ended Colorado’s scoreless streak at 23 innings with a solo homer, and the Rockies beat San Diego.
Colorado hadn’t scored since the eighth inning of a loss to San Francisco on Tuesday night, dropping a pair of shutouts in between. Arenado sparked the Rockies with his 35th homer, and Ian Desmond and Trevor Story also went deep.
Jon Gray (9-4) pitched six innings to win his fourth straight road start, and Colorado stayed 1 1/2 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals for the final NL wild card. The Milwaukee Brewers are two games back.
Greg Holland got his 41st save, tying Jose Jimenez’s club record from 2002.
The Rockies had no baserunners against former teammate Jordan Lyles (1-4) before Arenado hit the second pitch of the fifth over the right-field wall.
BLUE JAYS 8, YANKEES 1
TORONTO (AP) — Ryan Goins successfully pulled off a hidden-ball trick and hit his second career grand slam, leading Toronto over Masahiro Tanaka (12-12) and ensuring New York had to wait at least one more day to clinch a playoff berth.
With Todd Frazier on base following a leadoff double in the third, Jose Bautista made a running catch just in front of the right field warning track on Jacoby Ellsbury’s one-out drive. Goins caught Bautista’s throw while standing near second base, then pretended to toss the ball to pitcher Marco Estrada (10-8) while slipping in into his glove.
Goins turned his back to Frazier, who had returned to the base, and when Frazier briefly lifted his left foot off the base, Goins tagged him on the left thigh. Frazier insisted he had maintained contact with the base, but umpire Mark Carlson called him out to end the inning.
ASTROS 3, ANGELS 0
HOUSTON (AP) — Justin Verlander pitched one-hit ball over seven innings to remain perfect with Houston and Yuli Gurriel hit a three-run homer to propel the Astros.
Verlander (14-8) walked two and struck out six to improve to 4-0 since being traded from Detroit on Aug. 31.
Gurriel connected off Yusmeiro Petit (5-2) on his 18th home run to give Houston a 3-0 lead in the seventh.
Chris Devenski pitched a perfect eighth before Ken Giles allowed a hit and a walk with no outs before settling down to finish the inning and pick up his 33rd save.
DIAMONDBACKS 13, MARLINS 11
PHOENIX (AP) — Chris Iannetta homered twice and drove in a career-high eight runs, and Arizona outslugged Miami.
J.D. Martinez and Christian Walker also homered for the Diamondbacks, who can clinch their first postseason berth in six years with a win Saturday and a loss by St. Louis.
Arizona erased a 9-7 deficit with five runs in the sixth.
Walker got his first career pinch-homer off Jarlin Garcia to make it 9-8. David Peralta reached on an error before Dustin McGowan (8-2) struck out A.J. Pollock. But Paul Goldschmidt walked and Martinez reached on an infield single ahead of Iannetta, who homered onto the walkway above the center-field fence to put the Diamondbacks ahead 12-9.
Iannetta’s grand slam was his fifth and first since May 28, 2015. He hit multiple homers in the same game for the third time.
J.J. Hoover (2-1) got the win, and Fernando Rodney finished his 39th save.
TWINS 7, TIGERS 3
DETROIT (AP) — Max Kepler and Brian Dozier homered, Byron Buxton had three hits and playoff-chasing Minnesota beat Detroit.
Buxton’s two-run double in the fourth put the Twins ahead to stay against a Detroit team that announced before the game that manager Brad Ausmus will not be back in 2018.
Minnesota came into the night leading the race for the American League’s second wild card by 2 ½ games over Texas and the Los Angeles Angels.
Kyle Gibson (12-10) allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings for the Twins. He struck out six and walked two.
Daniel Norris (4-8) allowed five runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
ATHLETICS 4, RANGERS 1
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Rookie Matt Olson hit his sixth home run in seven games, a second-inning drive off Nick Martinez that helped Oakland damage Texas’ playoff hopes.
Olson homered following a leadoff walk to Khris Davis, his 13th home run in September and his 16th in his last 23 games.
Shin-Soo Choo hit his 21st home run for Texas, which has lost six of its last seven at Oakland.
Martinez (3-7) allowed four runs — three earned — and five hits in six innings. He is winless in six starts and four relief appearances since June 25.
Kendall Graveman (6-4) gave up one run, six hits and three walks in seven innings as Oakland won its fifth straight, and Blake Treinen retired three batters for his 10th save.
RED SOX 5, REDS 4
CINCINNATI (AP) — Rafael Devers hit a three-run homer and Boston extended its AL East lead to four games by overcoming Scooter Gennett’s fourth grand slam of the season.
Boston added to its lead with the help of the Yankees’ loss at Toronto. The Red Sox have won 12 of 15, keeping the Yankees at bay while moving a season-high 25 games over .500 (89-64).
Rick Porcello gave up Gennett’s fourth grand slam — a Reds’ season record — in the first inning. He lasted a season-low four innings, turning a 5-4 lead over to the bullpen. Porcello has lost 17 games — most in the majors — after winning 22 last year along with the AL Cy Young Award.
Devers hit his shot off Sal Romano (5-7). David Price (6-3) got the victory in relief.
METS 7, NATIONALS 6
NEW YORK (AP) — Travis d’Arnaud hit two home runs and New York ended a three-game skid, rallying past a watered-down Washington lineup.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker said he needed to “give my big boys much needed rest” with the playoffs nearing, and not a single regular started for the NL East champions. Star Daniel Murphy pinch hit in the eighth and flied out.
Nori Aoki had three hits for the Mets, including a go-ahead double in the sixth inning off Joe Blanton (2-4). Chasen Bradford (2-0) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.
WHITE SOX 7, ROYALS 6
CHICAGO (AP) — Matt Davidson drove in three runs with his 26th homer and a double, Yoan Moncada hit a two-run drive and Chicago overcame a four-run deficit to beat Kansas City.
The Royals dropped 4½ games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card with nine games left. Jason Hammel (8-13) allowed seven runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.
White Sox rookie Reynaldo Lopez (3-3) allowed six runs — two earned — and 10 hits over 6 1/3 innings to win his third straight start. Juan Minaya pitched a scoreless ninth for his sixth save.
RAYS 8, ORIOLES 3
BALTIMORE (AP) — Wilson Ramos hit his third career grand slam, Evan Longoria also went deep and Tampa Bay throttled Ubaldo Jimenez and Baltimore.
Alex Cobb (12-10) earned his career-high 12th win for the Rays, who interrupted a 4-9 slide and kept alive their slim playoff hopes.
Jimenez (6-11) gave up six runs and eight hits in three innings. He was booed lustily by the home fans after each Tampa Bay home run.
BRAVES 7, PHILLIES 2
ATLANTA (AP) — Kurt Suzuki homered twice, Nick Markakis drove in three runs and Atlanta beat Philadelphia.
Sean Newcomb (4-8) won his second straight start, allowing two runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Atlanta scored five runs in the first off Ben Lively (3-7) on Ozzie Albies’ RBI single, Markakis’ two-run single and Suzuki’s two-run homer.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Javier Baez grounded a tying single with two outs in the ninth inning, Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer in the 10th and the Chicago Cubs widened their NL Central lead over Milwaukee, beating the Brewers 5-3 Thursday night.
The Cubs now are 4 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers after winning the opener of a four-game series.
Milwaukee was in position to win it in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with one out. But Wade Davis (4-1) struck out Domingo Santana and then, after falling behind 3-1 in the count to Orlando Arcia, came back to retire him on an easy comebacker on a full-count pitch.
The Cubs trailed 3-2 when Ian Happ led off the ninth by hitting a grounder that first baseman Neil Walker fielded wide of the bag. Reliever Jeremy Jeffress covered first and Happ was called safe in a close play, a ruling upheld on replay.
Happ moved to second on a one-out grounder and scored when Baez, down to his last strike, singled up the middle.
Bryant hit his 28th homer, connecting off Oliver Drake (3-5).
INDIANS 4, ANGELS 1
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Francisco Lindor homered and Cleveland finished a three-game sweep for its 27th win in 28 games.
It matched the 1884 Providence Grays for the best 28-game run in major league history. The Grays went 28-1 before cooling.
After hitting a two-run homer Wednesday night, Lindor came back with a three-run homer in the fifth off Parker Bridwell (8-3) to break a 1-all tie. It was his 32nd home run.
The was Cleveland’s 11th straight victory over the Angels, who have lost four of five overall in a struggling effort to overtake the Minnesota Twins for the final AL wild card.
Zack McAllister (2-2) threw 1 1/3 innings of relief. Tyler Olson threw a scoreless ninth for his first career save.
TWINS 12, TIGERS 1
DETROIT (AP) — Joe Mauer and Jorge Polanco had three hits each, and Minnesota extended its lead for the American League’s second wild card.
The Twins are 2 ½ games ahead of the Angels in the race for the AL’s final postseason spot.
Minnesota scored three runs apiece in the fourth and sixth innings, then added four more in the eighth. The Twins rebounded from a three-game sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees, routing a depleted Detroit team that is 4-17 in September after trading Justin Verlander and Justin Upton.
Adalberto Mejia fell one out short of a win, allowing a run and four hits in 4 2/3 innings. Dillon Gee (3-2) was credited with a victory in relief.
Jordan Zimmermann (8-13) yielded three runs and five hits in four innings.
DODGERS 5, PHILLIES 4
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pinch-hitter Andre Ethier and Curtis Granderson homered as Los Angeles clinched a tie for the NL West title, ending a four-game losing streak by beating Philadelphia.
The Dodgers can win their fifth straight division crown Friday night with either a victory at home over San Francisco or a loss by second-place Arizona to Miami.
Los Angeles avoided a four-game sweep by the last-place Phillies, winning for just the sixth time in 26 games.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner sustained a bruised right thumb when he was hit by a pitch from Mark Leiter Jr. in the first and exited the game. Turner is hitting a team-leading .321 with 21 homers and 70 RBIs.
Ethier tied it with a home run in the seventh off reliever Ricardo Pinto (1-2) that made it 4-all. Chris Taylor followed with a triple and scored the go-ahead run on a grounder by Austin Barnes.
Rookie Walker Buehler (1-0) pitched a hitless inning to win his first major league decision. Kenley Jansen got four outs for his 39th save.
WHITE SOX 3, ASTROS 1
HOUSTON (AP) — Chris Volstad and Chicago’s bullpen covered 8 2/3 innings after starter Carson Fulmer left with a blister.
Volstad (1-0) got his first win since 2012 with the Chicago Cubs. He allowed a run over 4 1/3 innings, and six relievers kept Houston scoreless from there. Juan Minaya worked around two walks in the ninth for his fifth save.
Chicago built a 2-0 lead off Dallas Keuchel (13-5) by the third inning. Brian McCann got Houston within 1 on a solo homer in the bottom of the inning.
PADRES 3, ROCKIES 0
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Colorado stumbled again as it tries to protect its tenuous hold on the NL’s second wild card, losing to a San Diego team powered by veteran left-hander Clayton Richard and rookie slugger Christian Villanueva.
Richard (8-14) struck out eight in 7 1/3 scoreless innings a day after agreeing to a two-year contract extension through 2019. Villanueva homered for the second straight game.
It was the fourth straight loss and sixth in eight games for the Rockies. They kept their one-game lead over Milwaukee.
Colorado lefty Tyler Anderson (5-6) was pulled after 5 2/3 innings. Brad Hand struck out the side in the ninth for his 20th save.
RANGERS 4, MARINERS 2
SEATTLE (AP) — Cole Hamels dominated for eight innings, Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo went deep and Texas beat Seattle to hang around the AL wild-card hunt.
Texas and the Los Angeles Angels are 2 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second wild card.
Hamels (11-4) allowed three hits and a run while striking out eight. He gave up a solo homer to Nelson Cruz — his 35th — in the seventh, along with a pair of singles to Jean Segura.
Keone Kela got his second save despite yielding a solo homer to Robinson Cano in the ninth. It was Cano’s 22nd this season and 300th of his career.
James Paxton (12-5) allowed two runs in 3 2/3 choppy innings.
ROYALS 1, BLUE JAYS 0
TORONTO (AP) — Jason Vargas and four relievers combined on a two-hitter, and Melky Cabrera had three hits and the only RBI.
Vargas (17-10) struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings to win his third straight start. None of the three batters he walked advanced beyond first base.
The Blue Jays did not have a runner reach scoring position. The Royals, who have 10 games remaining, are 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card spot.
Cabrera’s RBI came in the third against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ (9-11).
ORIOLES 3, RAYS 1
BALTIMORE (AP) — Gabriel Ynoa pitched eight innings of five-hit ball, Manny Machado homered and Baltimore beat Tampa in a matchup between fading AL East teams.
Machado’s two-run homer in the first inning off Matt Andriese (5-4) propelled the Orioles to their third win in 15 games.
Ynoa (2-2) struck out three and walked two in earning his first win as a starter in six career tries. He failed to go past five innings in any of his previous starts. Brad Brach pitched the ninth for his 18th save
CARDINALS 8, REDS 5
CINCINNATI (AP) — Dexter Fowler delivered again, getting three hits and driving in two as St. Louis overcame Scott Schebler’s two home runs to beat Cincinnati for a three-game sweep.
The Cardinals began the day 2 ½ games behind Colorado for the second NL wild card and five games behind the Central-leading Chicago Cubs.
Carlos Martinez (12-11) lasted 6 1/3 innings on a muggy night with a gametime temperature of 85 degrees, allowing four runs and nine hits.
Homer Bailey (5-9) became the third consecutive Reds starter to be lifted without getting through five innings.
BRAVES 3, NATIONALS 2
ATLANTA (AP) — R.A. Dickey frustrated Washington with his knuckleball for eight innings, Ozzie Albies had three hits and Atlanta beat the Nationals.
Dickey (10-10) gave up two runs, four hits and no walks. He made a strong case that the Braves should pick up his $8 million club option for 2018, but said after the game that he may retire following this season.
Arodys Vizcaino struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances.
The Braves scored two runs in the fourth off Tanner Roark (13-10).