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LCS Round Day 6: Atlanta, Houston Gain the Edge

Baseball on the Infield Chalk Line with the Base in the distance

Tuesday night’s League Championship Series saw two late comeback victories by the Dodgers and Astros. Wednesday night’s games offered the chance for teams to take three-game leads in their respective series. Who would seize control?

Astros 9, Red Sox 1

Astros lead series 3-2

W: Framber Valdez
L: Chris Sale

Sale had a serviceable outing through five innings but walked José Altuve to lead off the 6th inning. This ended up beginning of a five-run eruption by the Astros. Michael Brantley reached on an error by Kyle Schwarber. Alex Bregman grounded out, but Yordan Álvarez lined a fastball into left field to drive in two runs.

Houston scored three more runs in the inning to leap out to a 6-0 lead. Boston managed only one run against Valdez, who worked eight innings with five strikeouts. Pitching was a problem for Houston early in the series, so Valdez’s deep outing may prove to be significant as the series heads into the home stretch.

The ALCS will return to Houston for two more games, if necessary, as the Astros seek to clinch a berth in the World Series. Game 6 will start at 8:08 PM on Friday. Nathan Eovaldi (regular season – 11-9, 3.75 ERA) will face a Houston pitcher TBD.

Braves 9, Dodgers 2

Atlanta leads series 3-1

W: Drew Smyly
L: Julio Urías

Atlanta manager Brian Snitker and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts decided to reverse pitching strategies tonight, with Snitker leaning on Johnny Wholestaff while Roberts tapped traditional starter Urías for five innings of work. After veteran Jesse Chavez‘s scoreless first inning, Smyly provided 3.1 key innings of bulk relief, allowing two runs on two hits on the positive side of the game record.

Atlanta tagged Urías with five earned runs, three on solo home runs by Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall and Freddie Freeman.

Rosario would flirt with the second cycle in MLB postseason history, but settled for 4-5 with a second home run. This one was a three-run line drive to right field bullpen in the 9th inning for the dagger.

According to Enrique Rojas of ESPN, Rosario logged 12 total bases on the night and the last batter to achieve the same feat in a playoff game was fellow Puerto Rican Kiké Hernández in the 2017 NLCS.

The game in question was the Dodgers’ series-clinching win in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs on October 19, 2017. Hernández hit three home runs in a game that lives in infamy for Cubs fans.

Atlanta now owns a 3-1 advantage in the NLCS. They held a 3-1 advantage in last year’s edition of the series but failed to shut the door on the Dodgers, who went on to win the 2020 Covidball Cup MLB championship. If Atlanta is successful this year, the absence of Dodgers postseason veteran Justin Turner could prove to be the difference. He exited Wednesday’s game in the 7th inning with an apparent hamstring injury.

The Atlanta ballclub will have the chance to punch their ticket to the World Series on Thursday at 8:08 PM ET. Max Fried (regular season 14-7, 3.04 ERA) will face a Dodgers pitcher TBD, likely an opener.