Dodgers rally late, defeat Astros 6-2 in World Series Game 4

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Last night, I wrote about Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger‘s struggles through the first three games of the World Series. He went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in Game 3, which ran his hitless streak up to 11 at-bats in the Fall Classic. Bellinger turned his fortune around in Game 4 on Saturday night, helping the Dodgers even the World Series at two games apiece with a 6-1 victory at Minute Maid Park.

It was a pitcher’s duel through-and-through after five innings. Both Astros starter Charlie Morton and Dodgers starter Alex Wood were trading zeroes on the scoreboard. Wood, in fact, held the Astros hitless through five. He lost it with two outs in the sixth when George Springerfacing Wood for a third time — swatted a 394-foot solo home run to left field. That was it for Wood. Brandon Morrow came in and got Alex Bregman to ground out to end the inning. Wood’s final line: 5 2/3 innings, one run, one hit, two walks, three strikeouts, 84 pitches.

The Dodgers exacted revenge on the Astros, fighting back for a run of their own in the top of the seventh. With one out against Morton, Cody Bellinger slashed a double to left field, just to the side of the Crawford Boxes. Will Harris came in to relieve Morton and got Yasiel Puig to line out to right field. Seeing light at the end of the tunnel, Harris fell behind Logan Forsythe 2-0. Forsythe then ripped a 2-1 cutter that caught too much plate into shallow left-center to bring Bellinger home, tying the game at 1-1.

In the top of the ninth, Astros manager A.J. Hinch called on struggling closer Ken Giles to start the ninth. Giles had allowed runs in five of six appearances this postseason, including two to the Dodgers in Game 2. It wasn’t exactly shocking, then, when Giles gave up a leadoff single to Corey Seager then walked Justin Turner. After a visit on the mound from pitching coach Brent Strom, Giles proceded to give up a run-scoring double to Bellinger before giving way to Joe Musgrove. Musgrove struck out Puig, then intentionally walked Forsythe to set up a double play possibility. Austin Barnes lifted a sacrifice fly to right field, plating Charlie Culberson, who pinch-ran for Justin Turner. Joc Pederson decided to break the game wide open in the next at-bat, sending an 0-1, 94 MPH fastball to right field for a three-run home run, boosting the Dodgers’ lead to 6-1. Giles ended up on the hook for three runs without recording an out.

Kenley Jansen entered in the bottom of the ninth, attempting to make up for his blown save in Game 2. He did just that. Brian McCann attempted to beat the shift with a bunt, but Seager made a nice play to record the first out. Jansen then struck out Springer. Bregman swatted a solo home run into the Crawford Boxes to make it 6-2, but it was too little, too late. Jansen got Jose Altuve to fly out to center field to end the game, evening up the series.

The final World Series game in Houston will take place on Sunday night. Game 5 will feature a rematch of the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Astros’ Dallas Keuchel. The two teams will take Monday off to return to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Tuesday and, if necessary, Game 7 on Wednesday.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.