While both series on the National League side ended in sweeps, the American League side has been a bit more competitive. Let’s take a look at how we got to the best-of-seven Championship Series with four teams left looking to punch their tickets to the World Series.
Miami Marlins vs. Atlanta Braves
We all know about the Braves lineup. It has been their pitching though that has stepped up and dominated the first five games of the postseason. After shutting out the Cincinnati Reds in back-to-back games in the Wild Card Round, the Braves gave up five runs in Game 1 of the NLDS. That was it for the Marlins. Atlanta shut them out in the last two games of the series and have not lost yet in the playoffs.
Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright both made their postseason debuts this year. So far in three games, the two Atlanta starters have combined for a 3-0 record with 24 Ks in 17 2/3 IP while allowing no runs and just eight hits. Travis d’Arnaud is hitting like a man possessed. Against the Marlins, d’Arnaud was 6-10 with two doubles and two homers with seven RBIs in the three games. Former first pick Dansby Swanson has also been crushing it. The Braves shortstop went 4-10 with a couple of bombs and five RBIs against Miami. Atlanta has been clicking and they will give the Los Angeles Dodgers all they can handle.
San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Padres weren’t quite ready for prime time. In their defense, San Diego was missing Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet, but the Dodgers still took care of business and swept the series. Walker Buehler and Dustin May shut down the Padres’ young guns in Game 1. Clayton Kershaw continued to be on his postseason prove-it tour in Game 2. The Dodgers bats came alive in Game 3 and Julio Urias did his thing as Los Angeles moved on to the NLCS.
The Padres will be around the postseason for a while with their youth and exuberance. The Dodgers put San Diego on notice though that the West Coast sheriffs still play their home games at Chavez Ravine. Los Angeles defended their territory as far as NL favorites, but there were a few chinks in the armor. They will have to be on their game to take down the Braves.
Houston Astros vs. Oakland Athletics
The A’s managed a game in this series, but the Astros have been hot. The lowest seed still remaining in the playoffs, Houston scored 33 runs in four games and battered Oakland’s pitching. Carlos Correa is unstoppable at this point. He was 7-14 with three homers and 11 RBIs in the series against the A’s. Jose Altuve has woken up as well. After going 0-7 against the Minnesota Twins, the Houston second baseman went 6-15 with a couple of bombs and five RBIs vs. his division rival.
The Astros are determined to prove that they are just as talented as anyone in MLB after the cheating scandal cast aspersions on their legitimacy.
New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays
This series was power against power in terms of both pitching and hitting. Gerrit Cole came out firing in Game 1 and the Bombers hit four HRs (three off of Blake Snell) to take the opening game. In Game 2, Tyler Glasnow and some of Kevin Cash’s “stable” set a postseason record with 18 strikeouts in a nine-inning game. The Rays’ hitters also showed a little power of their own getting four HRs to even the series. For Game 3 Charlie Morton threw five strong innings. In what may wind up being Masahiro Tanaka‘s last game in pinstripes, the Rays won and were one win away from a trip to the ALCS.
New York wasn’t going away quietly, however. Jordan Montgomery got the start and gave up one run in four innings. After that, Chad Green, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman combined to hold the Rays hitless for the final five frames and force a deciding Game 5. Aaron Judge and Austin Meadows traded solo HRs for the only runs on the board until Mike Brosseau came up to bat against nemesis Chapman. With one out and nobody on in the eighth, Brosseau took the Yankee lefty deep to left-center. The Yankees went quietly in the ninth and the Rays punched their ticket to the ALCS for the first time since 2008.
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