Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, Astros Win

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Published on October 10 2017 6:13 am
Last Updated on October 10 2017 6:17 am

By ESPN

Moments after his go-ahead hit, Anthony Rizzo walked across the infield at frenzied Wrigley Field and shouted "Respect me! Respect me!"

A year after their historic championship, Rizzo and the Chicago Cubs are fighting for another memorable October.

Rizzo blooped a tiebreaking single into left field with two outs in the eighth and the Cubs overcame Max Scherzer's brilliant performance to beat the Washington Nationals 2-1 on Monday for a 2-1 lead in their NL Division Series.

The Nationals had a base open with Rizzo coming to the plate and pinch runner Leonys Martin on second, but manager Dusty Baker elected to pitch to the slugger with Willson Conteras on-deck. Oliver Perez came in and Rizzo looped his first pitch into shallow left-center, finding a patch of grass between three Washington fielders.

Rizzo stumbled after he took a big turn around first and was tagged out to end the inning, but he didn't seem to care too much, demanding veneration as the Cubs came out of the dugout for the ninth.

"I want to make guys pay," Rizzo said. "I hit where I hit in the order. I drive in runs, and that's just the mentality that I always take in. Usually I keep that stuff behind the scenes and say that stuff, but just my emotions got me there."

Baker had a different viewpoint. Asked if Rizzo, who drove in two runs in each of the first two games of the series, seems like a player who gets hits at key moments in the playoffs, Baker responded: "Well, yeah, I guess. I mean, it's not really turning it on when you bloop one in there, you know what I mean?"

Scherzer was dominant in his return from a right hamstring injury, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh. But just like in Game 1, when Chicago was held hitless into the sixth by Stephen Strasburg, the World Series champion Cubs showed off their resilience on the way to a stirring victory.

Game 4 of the best-of-five series is Tuesday. Jake Arrieta returns from his own hamstring injury for the Cubs, while Tanner Roark gets the ball for the Nationals.

"We've got to attack. We've got to be in attack mode," Rizzo said. "There's no relaxing just because we're up in the series."

Chicago committed four errors, including two by left fielder Kyle Schwarber on one ugly play, and Jason Heyward also made an uncharacteristic baserunning mistake. But the Cubs got a huge pinch-hit RBI single from Albert Almora Jr. and a solid pitching performance from Jose Quintana in the return of postseason baseball to Wrigley after last year's World Series ended in Cleveland.

After Rizzo's big hit, All-Star Wade Davis retired three in a row for his second save of the series. Jayson Werth popped out to Rizzo to end the game.

"We made mistakes," manager Joe Maddon said. "We made some errors, but then we made some great plays."

Scherzer struck out seven before he was pulled after Ben Zobrist doubled to left-center on his 98th pitch for Chicago's first hit with one out in the seventh. With Washington clinging to a 1-0 lead, Baker opted for left-hander Sammy Solis, who had a 5.88 ERA during the regular season, and Maddon countered by sending Almora to hit for the lefty-batting Schwarber.

"I know you guys are probably going to second-guess that but these guys are here to make a decision," Scherzer said. "When they made that decision I wasn't going to override anybody. These are pressure-packed situations. They've done their homework and they've done their job to come up with the best scenario in that situation. I understand it."

Mark this one down for Maddon, who drew some criticism after he allowed Carl Edwards Jr. to pitch to Bryce Harper in the eighth in Game 2 and the slugger responded with a two-run homer.

Almora lined a 3-2 pitch into left-center for his first career postseason hit in 15 at-bats. Almora yelled and pounded his chest after rounding first and the crowd of 42,445 cheered wildly.

"When I got my chance, I did it for the whole team, but mostly for Quintana and Schwarber," Almora said.

While Scherzer mowed down the Cubs, Quintana worked on his own gem in his first career playoff appearance. Helped by terrific running grabs by Heyward in right and Jon Jay in center, the left-hander carried a two-hit shutout into the sixth.

With two outs in the inning, Daniel Murphy lofted a fly ball to left that Schwarber dropped and then flubbed again when he tried to pick it up. The two errors put Murphy on third, and Maddon was booed as he went to the mound to pull Quintana in favor of Pedro Strop.

Ryan Zimmerman followed with an RBI double into the gap in right-center, giving Washington the lead. The All-Star slugger also had one of the big blows in Game 2, hitting a tiebreaking three-run homer in the Nationals' 6-3 victory.


Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1

Led by a big Japanese right-hander and a rookie from just down the road, the Los Angeles Dodgers are headed back to the NL Championship Series.

Cody Bellinger homered, drove in two runs and flipped over a dugout railing to steal an out for a dominant Yu Darvish, helping the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 Monday night to finish a three-game sweep in their NL Division Series.

"We have a great team," said Bellinger, a rookie from nearby Chandler, Arizona. "And to come here and sweep them, beat them on their home turf is hard to do and pretty special."

Darvish, acquired from Texas in a trade deadline deal, struck out seven over five innings to outpitch Arizona's Zack Greinke and earn the righty his first postseason victory in three tries.

"Yu's one of the best pitchers in the world," said Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes, who also homered. "When he's on his game, it's tough for any lineup."

Four Los Angeles relievers combined to preserve a three-hitter. Kenley Jansen worked around a single by David Peralta for a three-out save, striking out Paul Goldschmidt to end it. Only four batters reached base all night for the Diamondbacks, including Daniel Descalso with a homer.

"It was about finishing them off," Darvish said, "because momentum can go their way."

The Dodgers, who won 104 games for the best record in baseball and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, face the winner of the Nationals-Cubs series in the NLCS. Los Angeles fell there to World Series champion Chicago last year.

The Dodgers confined most of their celebration to the clubhouse, never making a move for the pool beyond the outfield wall. Los Angeles distressed the locals by taking a dip there after clinching the NL West in 2013, but for this party, police officers on horses waited at the warning track to keep the Dodgers away.

That was fine by the Dodgers. This wasn't the bash they're after, anyway.

"Being around this team for long enough, this is where we expect to be," ace Clayton Kershaw said. "We are fortunate enough to be in a big market, have a big payroll, have a lot of good players, a lot of talent. They did a great job of putting this team together. They expect us to be here and we expect us to be here, too."

Bellinger hit his homer in the fifth, then made a daring catch to end the bottom of the inning. The rookie first baseman fell into the Dodgers dugout as he snagged Jeff Mathis' popup, nearly dropping into the lap of manager Dave Roberts.

"I should have been a little quicker to save him," Roberts said, "but that was a heck of a play."

The 22-year-old Bellinger is the youngest Dodger ever to homer in the postseason -- he's 75 days younger than Corey Seager was when he set the mark last fall. Bellinger was just 1 for 12 with five strikeouts in his first postseason before hitting Greinke's 3-1 pitch over the wall in left for a 2-0 lead.

Bellinger, who may follow Seager as NL Rookie of the Year, also brought home Chris Taylor with a groundout in the first inning. Barnes chased Greinke with a leadoff homer in the sixth.

After Ketel Marte's first-inning bunt single, Darvish sent down 13 in a row before Descalso hit his second homer of the series. The two-out shot barely cleared the right-field fence over Yasiel Puig's glove to cut the lead to 2-1.

The Dodgers tinkered with Darvish's mechanics after the trade, and he was masterful through most of the night, mixing a 98 mph fastball with his deep repertoire of offspeed pitches. He allowed two hits and didn't walk any over 74 pitches.

"Yu really stepped up," Roberts said. "He was in command from the first pitch."

Darvish left after hitting pinch-hitter Christian Walker in the bill of his helmet to begin the sixth.

Greinke -- the ex-Dodger signed to a $206.5 million, six-year contract by Arizona before the 2016 season -- gave up three runs and four hits in five-plus innings. He struggled with his command, walking a season-high five and throwing 103 pitches through five innings. Greinke faced 3-2 counts against five of his first eight batters and was at 54 pitches through two innings.

"They're ready to hit, which is tough, but they're not chasing the pitch you want them to chase," Greinke said. "That's kind of what they do best. They did that the whole series."

Arizona won its last six regular-season games against the Dodgers, but Los Angeles dominated its NL West rival when it mattered most, sweeping an opponent in the postseason for the first time since the 2009 NLDS against St. Louis.

It was a tough ending to a big turnaround season for the Diamondbacks, who went from 69-93 in 2016 to 93-69 this year.

"I want to remember how I feel," first-year manager Torey Lovullo said, "because I think it will motivate me, and the pain and frustration that we're all experiencing right now."

 

Astros 5, Red Sox 4

The Houston Astros poured back onto the field after advancing to their first AL Championship Series, posing for pictures with the Green Monster as a backdrop before a few players bellyflopped in the puddles in the infield dirt.

No matter, they were already soaked from celebratory beer and sparkling wine.

"Both teams were throwing their guys, and that's what you live for," Houston third baseman Alex Bregman said on Monday after Justin Verlander came out of the bullpen to beat Chris Sale in an aces-turned-relievers role reversal and helped the Astros eliminate the Red Sox in four games with a 5-4 victory.

"When we saw Verlander run to the `pen we said, `Our horse is on the mound, we need to win this game," said Bregman, who homered off Sale to tie it in the eighth before Josh Reddick's single gave the Astros the lead. "That's kind of the whole energy that he's brought since we brought him over here. He's brought an energy with him that, `Hey, when he's out there, we're going to win."

Verlander, who was acquired for the playoff run after spending his first 13 seasons in Detroit, gave up the go-ahead homer to Andrew Benintendi -- the first batter he faced -- before shutting Boston down for the next 2 2/3 innings.

The former AL MVP and Cy Young winner earned the victory in his first relief appearance after 424 starts in a major and minor league career.

"All the things that you would like to do as a starter, and I was able to do that," Verlander said. "Top to bottom, man, these guys grinded against two of the toughest competitors in this game in Sale and (closer Craig) Kimbrel."

The Astros will open the ALCS on Friday, either at Cleveland or at home against the New York Yankees. The Indians and Yankees will play a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday night.

The Red Sox forced a Game 4 after losing the first two games in Houston, and then took a 3-2 lead in the fifth on Benintendi's homer. Bregman tied it before Reddick's single off closer Craig Kimbrel made it 4-3.

Carlos Beltran added to his postseason legacy with an RBI double in the ninth -- an insurance run that became the game-winner when Rafael Devers hit an inside-the-park homer off closer Ken Giles over leaping center fielder George Springer and off the Green Monster toward center.

The 20-year-old Red Sox rookie easily circled the bases before the throw to make it 5-4.

Giles retired the next three batters for the six-out save.

"The two big boys, Sale and Verlander, both get into the game. Everybody did well," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "Nobody really wanted to concede the game."

The Astros last reached the league championship series in 2005 as a National League team, and were swept in the World Series by the White Sox. This year's team, wearing "Houston Strong" patches to support the city that was flooded in Hurricane Harvey, is hoping to finish the job.

"The city of Houston is still rebuilding," Hinch said. "It's easy for us to look in the rearview mirror and think that the hurricane is over (but) the rebuild is not going to stop for a long time. ... We want to win for them, we want to win for us, we want to win because we showed up in spring training to try to win a World Series."

Springer and Yuli Gurriel each had three hits for the AL West champions, and Reddick's go-ahead single made up for misplaying a fly ball into a home run in Game 3 to force a fourth game. Reddick got a postgame drenching in the clubhouse while wearing a red, white and blue flag Speedo.

Verlander also beat Sale in the playoff opener and is now 7-0 for his new team. Sale, who had never appeared in the postseason before 2017, pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and four hits, striking out six.

"This is what we show up to spring training for. It's what we work all offseason for. Ups and downs, all around the country," Sale said. "This is what we live for."

On a rainy day at Fenway Park -- the fourth straight day game -- the Red Sox again saw a starter struggle early, with Rick Porcello giving up Houston's eighth first-inning run of the series. The reigning AL Cy Young winner, who led the AL with 22 wins last year and the majors with 17 losses in 2017, gave up two runs in three innings, walking three and striking out four while allowing five hits.

Xander Bogaerts also homered for the AL East champion Red Sox, and Hanley Ramirez had two hits a day after going 4 for 4 in Boston's only postseason win since the end of the 2013 World Series.

 

Yankees 7, Indians 3

Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees are headed back to Cleveland for a decisive Game 5 -- thanks to plenty of help from the Indians.

Severino rebounded from his playoff debacle, Judge delivered a big hit and the Yankees took advantage of shoddy defense by Cleveland to beat the Indians 7-3 Monday night and even their AL Division Series at two games apiece.

"We've got a shot now," said New York manager Joe Girardi, harshly criticized for his Game 2 decisions. "So it's a totally different feeling than it was the other day, and these guys have picked me up."

Gary Sanchez homered and a slumping Judge laced an early two-run double for his only hit of the series to go with 12 strikeouts in 15 at-bats.

Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer struggled on three days' rest and was chased in the second inning. But it was on the wet Yankee Stadium field where the Indians really flopped, committing a season-high four errors that marked a franchise record for a postseason game and led to six unearned runs.

The defending AL champions made only 76 errors all season, the lowest total in the league.

"The whole night, we made it hard on ourselves to win," manager Terry Francona said.

After preventing a three-game sweep with a 1-0 win Sunday night, the wild-card Yankees will start CC Sabathia against his original team in Game 5 on Wednesday. Indians ace Corey Kluber gets the ball in a rematch from Game 2, when he was hit hard by New York.

"It's hard to imagine giving it to somebody better," Francona said. "We're looking forward to it."

The winner faces Houston in the AL Championship Series after the Astros finished off Boston in four games Monday to win their ALDS.

"We've got a young team and they're hungry," Severino said.

Simply taking two in a row to send the series back to Cleveland was no small feat for the Yankees. The last time the Indians lost consecutive games was Aug. 22-23 at home against Boston, just before starting their AL-record 22-game winning streak. From that point on, Cleveland had gone 35-4 before arriving in the Bronx for Game 3 of the ALDS.

Minus injured slugger Edwin Encarnacion, the Indians have scored three runs in two games since.

Severino got only one out in the wild-card game against Minnesota last Tuesday, but was bailed out by his teammates as New York advanced with an 8-4 victory. This time, the 23-year-old ace was determined to come through, and he did.

"I think he was able to relax a lot more. He was able to control his adrenaline," Girardi said. "He was able to channel things down and make his pitch, as opposed to just trying to power his way through it."

Handed an early 5-0 lead and showing lots of emotion on the mound, the fired-up righty struck out nine in seven innings. With the crowd of 47,316 chanting his name, Severino threw 113 pitches and gave up four hits -- including Carlos Santana's two-run homer and Roberto Perez's solo shot.

"I told him after the game, he grew up a lot today," Girardi said.

Tommy Kahnle relieved a wild Dellin Betances in the eighth and got six straight outs -- five on strikeouts -- for his first save of the season as New York improved to 3-0 when facing playoff elimination this year.

"There's a lot of confidence in that room," Girardi said.

Sanchez hit his second home run of the series off Bryan Shaw in the sixth to make it 7-3.

A rainy day in the Big Apple prevented both teams from taking batting practice on the field. But the tarp was pulled and play started right on time, with fans in hooded ponchos bunched below the overhangs seeking cover from a heavy drizzle.

Showers dissipated in the bottom of the first, though a few puddles remained on the slick warning track all night.

The first of two costly errors by normally sure-handed third baseman Giovanny Urshela, a .224 hitter in the lineup for his defense, was a painful one. Starlin Castro's sinking line drive in the second struck him just above the left ankle and caromed away.

Shaken up, Urshela was checked by a trainer but stayed in the game.

With two outs, Todd Frazier pulled a 78 mph curve to deep left and it landed smack on the foul line for an RBI double. A frustrated Bauer gestured with his hand when he didn't get a strike-three call on a checked swing by Aaron Hicks, who soon singled home a run.

Brett Gardner singled and, after a mound visit from Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, Judge had a gritty at-bat. The rookie slugger was 0 for 11 with nine strikeouts in the series before fighting back from 0-2 to a full count and lining a two-run double to the left-field wall on one hop.

"Just had to grind it out," Judge said.

After pulling in at second base, he clapped and pointed to the Yankees dugout.

Bauer managed only five outs after tossing two-hit ball with eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings during a 4-0 win in the series opener last Thursday. All four runs he allowed were unearned.

"I thought my stuff was better than Game 1," Bauer said. "Just a couple of little things went their way instead of mine."

Urshela's two-out throwing error with the bases loaded in the third made it 5-0.

Frazier reached on pitcher Danny Salazar's two-base throwing error to start the fifth. He scored on Gardner's shallow sacrifice fly to center fielder Jason Kipnis, a second baseman moved to the outfield late this season. Kipnis began the year on the disabled list with a shoulder problem.

"As a team, we didn't play the greatest defense tonight," Bauer said.

 

Tuesday, October 10 Schedule (All Times Central)

Washington at Chicago Cubs, 4:38 p.m.

NLDS --  Game 4


Wednesday, October 11 Schedule (All Times Central)

New York Yankees at Cleveland, 7:08 p.m.

ALDS -- Game 5, if necessary


Thursday, October 12 Schedule (All Times Central)

Chicago Cubs at Washington, 4:38 p.m.

NLDS -- Game 5, if necessary


Friday, October 13

No games scheduled