Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Cardinals trample Braves 13-1 in Game 5, advance to NLCS

5 Comments

Game 5 of the NLDS could not have gone better for the Cardinals and could not have gone worse for the Braves. The Cardinals hung a 10-spot in the top of the first inning against starter Mike Foltynewicz and Max Fried, who tried and failed to put out Folty’s fire. The Cardinals ultimately won 13-1, earning their way into the NLCS. They will await the winner of tonight’s Nationals-Dodgers NLDS Game 5.

For a play-by-play of the first inning, I went over that here. The Cardinals continued to tack on runs, scoring once in the second inning on a Paul DeJong double, and twice in the third inning on RBI singles by Harrison Bader and DeJong.

Starter Jack Flaherty was excellent. There were only two blemishes on his record: serving up a solo homer to Josh Donaldson in the fourth, and hitting Ronald Acuña Jr. with a fastball in the fifth. The Cardinals and Braves have been chippy with one another in part due to a perceived slight on Acuña’s part. Fortunately, that was the end of it.

Flaherty ultimately went six innings, allowing the one run onf our hits and a walk with eight strikeouts on 104 pitches. Giovanny Gallegos worked a 1-2-3 seventh. John Brebbia worked around a two-out Freddie Freeman double in the eighth.

In the ninth, Genesis Cabrera took over for the final three unceremonious outs. He got Nick Markakis to ground out and Adam Duvall to fly out to right-center. Pinch-hitter Tyler Flowers singled to left field, but the game mercifully ended when Dansby Swanson struck out, making official the Cardinals’ 13-1 win.

The Cardinals are in the NLCS for the first time since 2014. The will find out their opponent soon as the Nationals and Dodgers do battle in Game 5 of their NLDS tonight. The NLCS will start on Friday. If the Dodgers win, they will have home field advantage. If the Nationals win, the Cardinals will have HFA.

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.