In case you aren’t caught up, here’s a postseason update
October 11, 2018
All eyes were on the National League as the end of the regular season came down to the West and Central divisions playing a 163rd game on Oct. 1. Then, once NL wild-card spots had been decided, the real “October Baseball” began.
NL Wild Card Game
The Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs endured a 13-inning battle that lasted nearly five hours. The game was tied at one after the ninth, and the near lack of offense was due to the hot pitching matchup of Chicago’s Jon Lester, who threw nine strikeouts in six innings, versus Colorado’s Kyle Freeland, who threw six strikeouts in six and two-thirds innings. Finally, after a clutch pinch-hit RBI by Tony Wolters in the top of the 13th inning as well as Scott Oberg’s closing success, the Rockies topped the Cubs in a 2-1 victory.
AL Wild Card Game
The American League Wild Card Game took place the next day between the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees. Despite his second-half slump, pitcher Luis Severino was chosen to start for N.Y. and struck out seven batters in four innings with no runs allowed, only falling victim to pitch count.
Aaron Judge initiated the Yankees offense with a two-run shot in the first inning. In the eighth, the league’s HR leader Khris Davis responded with a deep ball, scoring Oakland’s only two runs. They weren’t enough to match New York, who finished with seven runs to advance to the AL division series.
National League Division Series
Led by Hyun-Jin Ryu’s eight strikeouts and zero-run outing, the Los Angeles Dodgers took the first victory of the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves. Clayton Kershaw, in a dominant Game 2 performance, allowed just two hits in eight innings, and the Braves were shut out once again.
Though L.A.’s Walker Buehler started Game 3, the Braves managed to load the bases in the second for top NL rookie of the year candidate Ronald Acuña, Jr. Acuña proceeded to show his appreciation with a grand slam. Thanks to Freddie Freeman’s homerun in the sixth and a six-man pitching unit to back up Sean Newcomb’s shortlived outing, the Braves won the game to avoid a season-ending sweep. Under the pressure of having to win three games in a row to advance, Atlanta fell short in Game 4 and the Dodgers moved on to the next round.
The Rockies, however, were unable to avoid an early season’s end and suffered a three-game sweep, completed by the Milwaukee Brewers. This NL Division series seemed like a promising matchup when Game 1 went into extra innings. After Christian Yelich’s two-run home run, Colorado was able to tie the game in the nail-biting ninth inning.
The game only lasted one more inning, when Mike Moustakas singled for a walk-off RBI in Milwaukee. The Brewers won Game 2, with Jhoulys Chacin and the bullpen shutting out Colorado. The Rockies sent their ace Germán Márquez to the mound for Game 3 at home, but in his start, he gave up seven hits and two of the six total runs that would send the Brewers to the National League Champion Series.
American League Division Series
With one of the lower regular season records, the Cleveland Indians are struggling to compete against the powerful force that is the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series. In two games, the Indians had only six hits, while the Astros had 21. Houston’s Game 1 victory last Friday was a product of home run contributors Alex Bregman, George Springer, Jose Altuve and Martin Maldonado.
Clearly, facing Indians ace Corey Kluber was no problem for the Astros, who went on to win 7-2. Cleveland scored first in Game 2, with Francisco Lindor’s third inning homer, but Houston pitcher Gerrit Cole continued for four more innings, finishing with 12 strikeouts, three hits and only the one earned run.
In Game 3, George Springer’s two home runs and Carlos Correa’s three-run home run led the Astros to an 11-3 win. Houston thus became the second team to sweep to the semis.
The Boston Red Sox seemed to have a good hold of Game 1 of the ALDS with five runs after three innings initiated by J.D. Martinez’s three-run HR in the firstand Chris Sale dealing on the mound against the Yankees. By the sixth inning, however, Sale lost his rhythm and gave up two runs. The Yankees nearly caught up, but Boston’s bullpen was able to just barely save the lead for a 5-4 victory.
New York took Game 2, powered by solo homers by Judge, Gary Sánchez and Giancarlo Stanton and a three-run homer by Sánchez again.
On Monday, Brock Holt hit for the cycle in Game 3, becoming the first player to do so in a postseason game. Holt also batted in five of the team’s 16 runs. The Red Sox offense humiliated New York to take the series lead 2-1.
It came down to a two-out, winning run on first situation for the Yankees in Game 4. Boston closer Craig Kimbrel was able to earn the save and push his team to the next round.
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