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Juan Soto’s two-run homer gives Nationals early lead vs. Dodgers in NLDS Game 3

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Pressure doesn’t seem to affect 20-year-old slugger Juan Soto. After playing the role of hero in the National League Wild Card game against the Brewers, the Nationals’ outfielder swatted a two-run home run to center field, opening the scoring against Dodgers lefty and NL Cy Young Award contender Hyun-Jin Ryu in the first inning of NLDS Game 3 in Washington, D.C.

Soto was a runner-up to Ronald Acuña Jr. in NL Rookie of the Year voting last year. He followed it up with an equally impressive sophomore campaign in 2019, batting .282/.401/.548 with 34 home runs, 110 RBI, 110 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 659 plate appearances. He’s one of only four players with a 30-homer, 110-RBI season at age 20 or younger. The others are Álex Rodríguez, Ted Williams, and Mel Ott. Pretty good company.

Nationals starter Aníbal Sánchez will take the early run support from Soto. In the top half of the first inning, Sánchez allowed a single and a pair of walks to load the bases but escaped the threat.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

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Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.