David Price outduels Justin Verlander, sends Red Sox to World Series

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David Price helped pitch the Red Sox into the World Series on Thursday night, winning Game 5 of the ALCS in Houston against the Astros. He outdueled Justin Verlander in the process as the Red Sox went on to win 4-1.

It was a close game for a while, as the only run scored between the first and fifth innings by either side was a J.D. Martinez solo home run in the top of the third. Rafael Devers broke the game open in top of the sixth, giving Price plenty of cushion. Mitch Moreland led off with a double to left field and Ian Kinsler pushed him to third base with a single to right. Devers came up and swung at a letters-high 98 MPH fastball, sending to to left field where it landed just a couple of rows into the Crawford Boxes for a three-run homer.

Price looked locked in on the mound, repeatedly peppering the corners of the strike zone. Of his nine strikeouts, three were looking and six were swinging. He limited the Astros to just three hits without issuing a walk over six innings of work. May the “David Price can’t pitch in the playoffs” narrative rest in peace.

Marwin González put the Astros on the board in the bottom of the seventh against Matt Barnes, hitting an opposite-field solo homer into the Crawford Boxes, a little bit further than Devers’ dinger went. The seventh was otherwise uneventful, with Barnes getting two outs and Nathan Eovaldi one. Eovaldi remained in the game for the eighth, working around a two-out single by George Springer to send the game into the ninth inning.

Despite closer Craig Kimbrel‘s pronounced struggles throughout the postseason, manager Alex Cora called on him once again to close it out. A three-run lead with three outs to go normally feels safe, but Red Sox fans were anything but calm watching him jog to the mound. Kimbrel worked around a one-out walk of Yuli Gurriel, striking out Carlos Correa and Marwin Gonzalez before getting Tony Kemp to fly out to left-center to end the game.

The Red Sox are back in the World Series for the first time since 2013, when they defeated the Cardinals in six games. The 2018 World Series will begin on Tuesday, so the Red Sox will have four days off. They await the winner of the NLCS. The Dodgers currently lead the Brewers three games to two.

Braves clinch postseason spot with 10-1 win over Nationals

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The Braves clinched a postseason berth with Saturday’s 10-1 win over the Nationals. Now, the only question is whether they’ll get there with an NL East division title or via one of two wild card spots currently up for grabs.

Granted, things are looking pretty good on the division title front. After losing their second straight game to the Braves, the Nationals sit 10.5 games back of first place in the NL East, and every other division rival is at least 15 games out. The Braves, meanwhile, carry a magic number of four; should they clinch, it’ll be their 19th franchise title and 14th since they migrated to the East division in 1994.

They certainly looked like postseason contenders on Saturday. Mike Foltynewicz led the charge with six innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball, limiting the Nationals to four hits while rookie right-hander Austin Voth kept the Braves scoreless through 5 2/3 frames. Things started to tip in Atlanta’s favor in the sixth inning: Nick Markakis put the team on the board with an RBI single, and a four-run breakout in the seventh helped cement a sizable lead. Over the last three innings, the Braves found opportunity after opportunity against the Nationals’ bullpen, capitalizing on walks, throwing errors, and productive outs as they climbed toward a double-digit finish.

The win didn’t come without some sacrifice, however. The Braves lost Charlie Culberson to a facial injury after he was struck by a Fernando Rodney fastball in the seventh inning, and they’ll likely be without him for the remainder of the regular season — pending a formal diagnosis, of course. Culberson’s loss isn’t the only one the club is feeling right now, either, as Johan Camargo ended his season with a hairline fracture in his right shin and Freddie Freeman is playing through a minor bout of elbow soreness after making an early exit from Friday’s 5-0 shutout.