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Red Sox strike first in ALDS Game 4, take 3-0 lead

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Update (9:21 PM ET): It’s now 4-0 as Christian Vásquez was able to sneak a solo home run over the fence in right field off of Zach Britton in the top of the fourth inning.

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The Red Sox got to CC Sabathia in the third inning of Tuesday night’s ALDS Game 4 in the Bronx. After Sabathia held the Sox scoreless in the first two frames, he led off frame number three by hitting Andrew Benintendi with a pitch (unintentionally). Steve Pearce followed up with a single to move Benintendi to third, who promptly scored on a J.D. Martinez sacrifice fly.

Given the circumstances, Yankees manager Aaron Boone probably should’ve had a reliever warming up after Sabathia hit Benintendi and certainly after Pearce singled. But no one stirred. Sabathia got Xander Bogaerts to ground out, bringing up Ian Kinsler. Sabathia uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Pearce to move to third. Kinsler then doubled to left field, plating Pearce to make the score 2-0. Eduardo Núñez brought Kinsler home with a single to left field to push the lead to three runs. Sabathia finally got out of the inning by inducing a ground out from Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Sabathia is certainly done after three innings, but he probably should’ve been done a lot sooner than that. Boone made some questionable decisions in Game 3 and his decision not to have a reliever warm up in the third inning of Game 4 will certainly be a hot topic of conversation, especially if the Yankees end up getting eliminated tonight.

Brewers on the brink of their first pennant in 36 years

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A series that had swung back and forth twice already swung back in Milwaukee’s favor last night with a convincing win. That it was convincing — it was not at all close after the second inning — is a key factor heading into today, as Craig Counsell has his bullpen set up nicely to shorten the game if his Brewers can get an early lead.

Josh Hader — who, if you are unaware, has not allowed a run and has struck out 12 batters in seven innings of postseason work — did not pitch yesterday or in Game 5. As such, he’s had three full days off. Given that this is a win or go home day and, if they win, he’s guaranteed two more days off before the World Series, he’s good for two innings and could very well go for three. That’s not what you want if you’re the Dodgers.

But it gets worse. Jeremy Jeffress pitched last night but it was only one pretty easy inning, so he could go two if he has to. Corey Knebel pitched an inning and two-thirds but he could probably give Counsell an inning of work if need be. Joakim Soria didn’t pitch at all yesterday. Between those guys and the less important relievers, all of whom save Brandon Woodruff are all pretty fresh, the Dodgers aren’t going to have any easy marks.

But the thing is: Counsell may not need to go that deep given that Jhoulys Chacin, their best starter of the postseason, gets the start. So, yes, in light of that, you have to like the Brewers’ chances tonight, and that’s before you realize that the home crowd is going to be louder than hell.

Not that the Dodgers are going to roll over — it’ll be all hands on deck for them with every pitcher except for Hyun-Jim Ryu available, you figure — but if they’re going to repeat as NL champs, they’re going to have to earn it either by bloodying Chacin’s nose early and neutralizing the threat of facing Hader and company with a lead, or by marching through the teeth of the Brewers bullpen and coming out alive on the other side.
NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Walker Buehler vs. Jhoulys Chacin
Breakdown:

The most important part of this breakdown — the stuff about the Brewers’ pen — has already been said and, I presume anyway, the starters here will have the shortest of leashes. Chacin’s will be longer, as he has not allowed a run over 10 and a third innings in his first two postseason starts, making him the Brewers’ defacto ace. Every inning he goes tonight makes things much, much harder for the Dodgers once he’s gone as it means Milwaukee will be able to rely more and more on Hader and Jeffress, so the Dodgers had best get to him early.

Buehler has come up weak so far this postseason, having allowed nine runs in 12 innings, including surrendering four runs on six hits over seven innings in Milwaukee’s Game 3 victory. Still, it’s not hard to remember how dominating he was in the second half of the season. If that Buehler shows up and can keep things close, we’ll have a ballgame. If L.A. finds itself in an early hole once again, theirs will be the tallest of orders.