Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Cardinals jump on Mike Foltynewicz, Max Fried for 10 runs in first inning of NLDS Game 5

20 Comments

Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz, pitching on regular rest, wasn’t as sharp as he was in his brilliant NLDS Game 2 start against the Cardinals. In that start, he blanked the opposition on three hits and no walks with seven strikeouts across seven innings. In Game 5, Foltynewicz surrendered four runs while recording just one out before being taken out of the game.

Foltynewicz opened the first inning by walking Dexter Fowler. Kolten Wong moved Fowler to second with a sacrifice bunt. Paul Goldschmidt laced a single into the hole between third base and shortstop, gloved and held onto by Dansby Swanson, putting runners on the corners. Opening the scoring, Marcell Ozuna lined a single to right field to bring Fowler home. The threat continued when Yadier Molina hit a sharp grounder to Freddie Freeman on the right side. Freeman booted the grounder — Ozuna blocked his line of sight temporarily — which loaded the bases. Foltynewicz walked Matt Carpenter to force in a run, then gave up a two-run double down the right field line to Tommy Edman to make it 4-0.

After intentionally walking Paul DeJong, Foltynewicz was relieved by lefty Max Fried, who could not stop the bleeding. He walked opposing pitcher Jack Flaherty to force in a fifth run. Fowler came back to the plate and doubled to plate two more runs. Wong added a two-run double of his own to up the score to 9-0. Fried appeared to see his way out of the inning when Goldschmidt flied out and Ozuna struck out on a pitch in the dirt but catcher Brian McCann couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt. Putting “comedy” in “comedy of errors,” McCann fell down retrieving the ball, allowing a 10th run to score and Ozuna to reach first base safely. At long last, Fried ended the inning

It’s 10-0 and Flaherty hasn’t even taken the mound yet. It’s looking like the Cardinals are headed to the NLCS for the first time since 2014. The Braves have not advanced into the NLCS since 2001.

But hey, Baseball Savant still has the Braves’ win probability at 1.2 percent. It’s not officially over yet!

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

Astros
AP Images
10 Comments

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.