MLB playoff updates: Dodgers rout Padres to sweep series, move on to NLCS
During MLB's busy league division series, we'll keep you updated on results, key moments, and next steps in each game.
NLDS Game 3: Los Angeles Dodgers 12, San Diego Padres 3
What happened? The Los Angeles Dodgers have five more wins and eight more.
They beat the San Diego Padres on Thursday evening and won the third NLDS game 12-3. Now they're up to the next round against the Atlanta Braves, one step closer to winning the only series that really matters to them this year.
It's probably a little unfair to all of the exciting things the San Diego Padres have accomplished this year to turn them down as three more victories on the Dodgers road to finally winning a World Series - but by and large it was that's exactly what this series was for.
It's a World Series-or-Bust year for the Dodgers after so many post-season disappointments and a brave off-season when they acquired Mookie Betts. They rolled past everyone in the short regular season with 60 games and didn't lose a game in the postseason. Heck, they've only left two and a half innings in the entire postseason so far.
Their game 3 win was similar to that of the Dodgers - a balanced offensive approach that only wears down opponents. Sure, they can hit the ball over the fence, but they can also string together five rallies with a handful of base hits like they did here in the third inning.
At that point it was 6-2 and the Dodgers never looked back. Another RBI single in the fourth and a sack fly in the fifth gave them eight runs. No matter who the padres put on the hill - and they used a postseason record of 10 pitchers in the game - the Dodgers found a way to keep the pressure going. Even in the ninth inning, the Dodgers rallied for four more runs when Will Smith scored a two-run double and scored his fifth hit of the night. Cody Bellinger followed with a triple with two runs.
None of this is meant to take anything away from the padres and their exciting core of hit songs, but their pitching was just too beaten up to hang with LA. Maybe it's a closer streak if Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet are healthy. But they weren't and it wasn't.
Anything less than a march through the postseason turns the Dodgers into a punch line. You sent the Brewers and Padres out as expected - and now the real challenge begins.
What's next? The Dodgers are moving on to the NLCS, an area they are familiar with. You've been there three of the last four seasons. You will play against the Braves, who also defeated their opponent in the second round, the Miami Marlins. The two teams haven't played this season. Their last playoff matchup was in the 2018 NLDS, which the Dodgers won. The teams are different now - but the Braves are similar to the Padres in that they have a strong line-up and got into the playoffs with questionable starting pitching. Even so, all Braves pitchers were lit up in the postseason. Like the Dodgers, they haven't lost a game.
Next, the Padres stand up knowing that their rebuilding is finally paying off and that they will be a dangerous team for years to come. Their whole core is returning next season and a lot of their young players just want to get better. It should come as no surprise that the Padres and Dodgers fight for years.
You see that Will Smith became the first player in Dodgers history to score five goals in a postseason game and only the ninth player in MLB history.
ALDS Game 4: New York Yankees 4, Tampa Bay Rays 1
What happened? You didn't think the New York Yankees would quietly go away, did you?
With their backs against the wall, the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-1 in Game 4 of the American League Division Series to level the situation and force a crucial Game 5 on Friday.
The trailblazer was a well-known postseason hero. Shortstop Gleyber Torres, who hit .329 in his first 19 postseason games with four home runs, added another big home run. And we mean BIG in the truest sense of the word.
His home run with two runs in the sixth inning not only extended New York's lead to three runs, but also almost cleared the Western Metal Supply Co. building on the left field line in Petco Park.
It was significant in relation to Yankee history as well. Torres is now even with Mickey Mantle for most postseason home runs before the age of 24.
Before Torres' explosion, the game was more about punctual hitting and clutch pitching. Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery set the tone by successfully walking the tightrope. The 27-year-old left-hander limited the rays to a run with three hits and three walks over four innings.
Fortunately for the Yankees, their hot and cold bullpen was hot tonight. Chad Green, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman threw together five goalless innings to ensure victory.
New York never lagged behind him after two runs against Ray opener Ryan Thompson in the second inning. Luke Voit, who led MLB in the regular season with 22 home runs, opened the classification with his first homer of the postseason. Pictured later, Brett Gardner raced home with DJ LeMahieu's sacrificial fly.
The Rays had their first run on Brandon Lowe's RBI groundout in the second inning.
New York Yankees' Gleyber Torres celebrates with Gio Urshela after taking a two-part home run in the sixth inning of Game 4 of the ALDS. (Photo by Alex Trautwig / MLB Photos via Getty Images)
What's next? We have gone as far as we can. Game 5 of the ALDS will take place on Friday at Petco Park in San Diego. The time of the game depends on the outcome of Dodgers-Padres game 3. If the Dodgers win and finish the series, the game will start at 7:10 pm. ET. If the Padres win to extend this streak, Rays-Yankees Game 5 would begin at 6:10 p.m. ET.
It's a chance for the Yankees to win their third ALCS appearance in the past four seasons. A win for the Rays would lead them to their second ALCS in franchise history. The first came in 2008 when they hit the World Series and lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Yankees will go with Game 1 Starter and Ace Gerrit Cole. The Rays surprised Thursday night with the announcement that Game 2 starter Tyler Glasnow will get the ball for Game 5. Cole will take a short break, but Glasnow will take an even shorter break - an indication that the Rays might be taking some sort of break in bullpen game.
You see that Luke Voit is a strong person.
NLDS Game 3: Atlanta Braves 7, Miami Marlins 0
What happened? The Atlanta Braves are returning to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2001.
After losing eight previous division series in the last 19 years, the Braves completed a win over the Miami Marlins on Thursday with a 7-0 win that they now have one round before returning to the World Series.
Her game 3 win was typical of Braves - her powerful offensive relentlessly pushed runs across the field while her pitchers prevented their opponents from doing the same.
The Braves are on their way to the NLCS for the first time since 2001 after sweeping the Marlins. (Photo by Elsa / Getty Images)
Incredibly, the Braves have only allowed opposing teams to score on one of their five postseason wins this season. They hid the Cincinnati Reds in both games of the wildcard round and only let the Marlins score in game 1 of that series.
It's even more incredible when you consider that the Braves rolled into the playoffs as an offensive first team. They were just hoping to have enough pitching but so far it has basically been a light failure.
The Marlins scored in three innings of Game 1, but otherwise the Braves kept their opponents goalless in 44 innings this postseason.
For a team that stepped into the postseason without its ace Mike Soroka and veterans like Cole Hamels and Felix Hernandez, the Braves had to rely on newbies and unannounced teens to make it through the postseason.
In Game 3, it was Kyle Wright who started with a 5.21 ERA that season but threw six goalless innings while scoring seven goals. The Braves offense has since done what it does.
There were no homers in Game 3, but they lined up hits to get four runs in the third, one more in the fourth, and two more in the fifth. The middle of their order - Freddie Freeman (# 2) and Ozzie Albies (# 5) - had seven hits, three RBIs, and four runs.
It wasn't glamorous, but it was efficient. The kind of performance that makes them a daunting opponent on the next round.
What's next? The Braves face the winner of the Dodgers / Padres series, in which the Dodgers take a 2-0 lead on Thursday. The Braves would probably prefer to face the Padres, who are like the Braves in that their initial pitching leaves something to be desired, but their line-up is fun and dynamic. Chances are, it will be the Dodgers who pose a number of matchup issues (for everyone, not just the Braves). At least the Braves have time to rest their pitchers for the next round.
As for the marlins, hopefully what's next is more of what we saw in 2020. As this year's surprise team in the LDS group, they took a big step forward in 2020 - the biggest step so far under the Derek Jeter regime. The Marlins showed that some of their young talents are developing gradually and with a few more pieces they could be a stronger competitor in the future. That they made it this far after being the first team to be shut down by COVID-19 makes it even more commendable.
You see that Travis d'Arnaud had a huge hit in every game in the series. It's the rate for game 3.
ALDS Game 4: Houston Astros 11, Oakland A's 6
What happened? For the fourth year in a row, the Houston Astros enter the American League Championship Series after beating Oakland A 11-6 in Game 4 of the ALDS.
Houston's line-up stayed hot during the win and started four home runs. Michael Brantley was in charge of the homers. Carlos Correa's triple explosion in the fourth inning gave the Astros the final lead, while Jose Altuves Homer was the icing on the cake in two runs in the seventh inning.
The Astros will be the first team in MLB history to reach the LCS after finishing the regular season with a record loss. After 29-31, the Astros went 5-1 in the postseason. You eliminated two division championship teams - the Twins and A's.
What's next? Another trip to the ALCS where the Astros will meet either the New York Yankees or the Tampa Bay Rays. The rays currently this series 2-1.
The ALCS is slated to begin on Sunday, which means the Astros has three days to prepare. That could be good news, Zack Greinke, who started Game 4 after being scratched with his pitching arm at the beginning of the series. At least Lance McCullers and Framber Valdez will be available for regular games 1 and 2.
As for the A, they'll have a whole off season to think about what went wrong. After dethroning Houston in AL West, they couldn't keep up offensively in that series.
Houston did not play Yankees or Rays during the regular season due to MLB's limited travel schedule. However, they have a recent history with both of them in the postseason. In fact, the Astros eliminated both in the 2019 postseason, defeating the Rays in five games during the ALDS and the Yankees in six games during the ALCS.
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