Tuesday’s League Championship Series action featured matchups in both the American and National Leagues. The NLCS featured a pivotal Game 5 matchup with the Brewers and Dodgers tied at 2-2. The Boston Red Sox came into ALCS Game 4 looking to take a 3-1 advantage over the Astros.
Dodgers 5, Brewers 2
W: Kershaw; L: Woodruff; S: Jansen
Players of the Game: Justin Turner (2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI); Clayton Kershaw (victory, 7.0 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 2 BB, 9 SO, 1 run scored)
Dodgers Lead Series 3-2
Brewers manager Craig Counsell made an unusual move in the game when pulling SP Wade Miley after facing just one batter and throwing five pitches, with zero outs recorded, in an attempt to nullify the Dodgers lineup which was stacked against a left-handed starter. Miley is now expected to start NLCS Game 6. The Brewers pen had held the Dodgers to just 2 runs in the Tuesday loss and worked a combined shutout on Monday, but Counsell’s strategy did not pay off with a bullpen already taxed by a 13-inning game on Tuesday.
Milwaukee RP Brandon Woodruff went as deep as any traditional Milwaukee starter has gone during the postseason, with 5.1 IP, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits with 1 BB and 8 SO. Dodgers SP Clayton Kershaw answered the gambit by working 7.0 IP, allowing 1 run on 3 hits with 2 BB and 9 SO to earn the victory.
The Crew opened the scoring with an RBI double by OF Lorenzo Cain in the top of the 3rd to score INF Orlando Arcía. The Dodgers tied the game in the bottom of the 5th on a single by C Austin Barnes plating OF Chris Taylor.
In the bottom of the 6th, the Dodgers would add two more insurance runs on a single by INF Max Muncy driving in INF Justin Taylor as the go-ahead run, and on a single by OF Yasiel Puig to score INF Manny Machado.
The Dodgers would add two more runs in the bottom of the 7th on a single by Turner to drive in Kershaw, and on a groundout by PH/INF Brian Dozier to plate OF Cody Bellinger.
The Brewers scored an additional run in the top of the 9th on a double by PH Curtis Granderson to bring in INF Jesús Aguilar, but did nothing further, ending the game.
Red Sox 8, Astros 6
W: Kelly; L: James; S: Kimbrel
Players of the Game: Jackie Bradley Jr. (1-2, 1 R, 2 RBI, go-ahead HR); Andrew Benintendi (2-5, 2 R, game-ending catch)
Boston Leads Series 3-1
The Boston Red Sox came into ALCS Game 4 with a 2-1 advantage in the series. The Houston Astros gave them a pitched battle in an attempt to even things up at 2 games apiece. Houston SP Charlie Morton worked just 2.1 IP, allowing 3 runs on 3 hits with 2 BB and 2 SO. His Boston counterpart Rick Porcello also did not work very deep into the game, lasting 4.0 IP after allowing 4 runs on 7 hits (2 HR) with 1 BB and 3 SO.
Boston took the early lead on a 2-run single in the top of the 1st by INF Rafael Devers scoring OF Mookie Betts and DH J.D. Martinez.
Controversy arose in the bottom of the inning when Betts attempted to make a catch of a fly ball hit to right field by José Altuve, who had been moved to DH due to a knee injury. Betts leaped at the wall and outstretched his arm into the stands, trying to rob Altuve of a potential game-tying home run. His glove appeared to close because of contact by a fan’s hand. The ball then hit a fan and bounced back into the field of play. The ruling on the field called Altuve out on fan interference, but Houston manager A.J. Hinch issued a challenge. The call was upheld on review. However, MLB rules state that the fan interference rule does not apply when a fielder reaches out of the field of play in an attempt to make a catch.
Houston got on the board in the bottom of the 2nd on an RBI single by INF Carlos Correa to plate OF Josh Reddick.
In the top of the 3rd, OF Xander Bogaerts recouped the run with a double driving in OF Andrew Benintendi. Houston tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a solo shot by OF George Springer and a single by Reddick that drove in Altuve. Houston would go on to take a one-run lead in the bottom of the 4th on a solo home run by OF Tony Kemp.
The Red Sox would battle back to tie the game in the top of the 5th on a single by Bogaerts to score Benintendi, and Houston climbed back on top in the bottom of the inning on a single by Correa to bring in INF Yuli Gurriel.
In the top of the 6th, Jackie Bradley Jr. gave Boston another lead on a towering 2-run bomb to score C Christian Vázquez. The 2 RBI from the homer gave him a total of 9 RBI with 2 outs in the 2018 postseason. If Boston goes on to win the series, I expect he will be named the ALCS MVP.
Boston added an insurance run with a bases-loaded walk of INF Brock Holt to force in Martinez in the top of the 7th, and would do so again in the top of the 8th on a single by J.D. Martinez plating Betts.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora brought in closer Craig Kimbrel to pitch in the bottom of the 8th in a 6-out save bid. Kimbrel got hit hard in the 8th, but was bailed out of a potential big inning thanks to a fantastic spinning throw by Betts to nail OF Tony Kemp at 2nd base in an attempt to stretch a leadoff single into a double. OF Alex Bregman reached on a hit by pitch and advanced to 3rd on a double by Springer. Bregman then scored on a groundout by Altuve to reduce the Astros’ deficit to 2 runs.
The Astros would make things interesting in the bottom of the 9th, loading the bases against Kimbrel with 2 outs, but Benintendi made a diving catch of a line drive by Alex Bregman to end the game and avert disaster.
The National League teams will be returning to Milwaukee tomorrow to finish the series, but ALCS Game 5 will kick off in Houston at 8:09 PM. The Astros face a possible end to their bid to repeat as World Series champions. Probable starters: Price (BOS) – 3.58 ERA; TBD (HOU).