MLB Recap: NLCS And ALCS Take Shape
The National and American League divisional series continued on Thursday, with all four matchups standing as potential elimination games.
While three of the four series did come to a close, Friday will give us a winner-take-all showdown in the AL. Here is a recap of Thursday's NLDS and ALDS action.
The Braves end their drought
For the first time since 2001, the Atlanta Braves are headed back to the NLCS.
The Braves defeated the Miami Marlins in three games, with each win looking different than the other.
In Game 1, a six-run seventh inning pushed the Braves to a 9-5 win. In Game 2, a dominant pitching performance from their entire staff carried them to a 2-0 win.
Game 3 provided a little bit of both, with the Braves offense coming to life to score seven runs while the pitching once again shut down the Marlins lineup behind a strong start from Kyle Wright.
Wright pitched six shutout innings while striking out seven Marlins batters.
And Travis d'Arnaud made sure Wright got the run support he needed, going 2-for-3 and batting in two runs. For the series he batted .600 with seven RBIs over the course of three games.
Braves All-Star center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. was sure to let the Marlins know about being eliminated after the series.
Acuna and the Marlins had contentious moments with one another during the series, especially when Acuna was hit by a pitch in Game 1.
Now, he and his team are leaving those issues in the past.
The Braves will enter the NLCS with a heavy dose of confidence and swagger.
The Astros are on fire
If there's one thing to know about the 2020 MLB playoffs, it's to not count out the Houston Astros.
For the first time in four years, they entered the postseason as an underdog, but the results are still the same.
The Astros are headed to their fourth consecutive ALCS and it's in large part due to the heavy hitting of their shortstop, Carlos Correa.
Correa was a force in Game 3, batting 3-for-4 while driving in five runs and scoring one run himself.
For the series, Correa collected 11 RBIs over the course of three games to help spearhead an Astros lineup that scored 32 runs over four games.
The Astros offense was so good that it was able to still outscore the A's even when the Oakland (potentially) knew what pitches were coming.
The Astros were far from the best team in baseball this regular season, but they might enter the ALCS as the hottest team in the MLB.
Yankees force Game 5
After winning Game 1 against the Rays, the Yankees had been reeling, allowing 15 combined runs in Game 3 and 4 and facing elimination.
But with their backs against the wall, the NY pitching staff and lineup responded in a Game 4 victory.
Jordan Montgomery got the ball to start, and though he lasted just four innings, he allowed only one earned run to the Rays, setting the tone for the Yankees pitching staff.
Offensively, one of their biggest bats showed up to deliver with the season on the line.
First baseman Luke Voit led the majors in home runs this season with 22, but had yet to send a ball out of the park this series.
That changed in the second inning for Voit and the Yankees.
Voit finally went yard, and Gleyber Torres followed his lead in the sixth inning with a two-run shot to help carry the Yankees to victory.
Now the Yankees will hand the ball off to their ace Gerrit Cole in a do-or-die Game 5.
Cole pitched six innings in a Game 1 victory, striking out eight batters and holding the Rays to three runs.
The Yankees will hope for a repeat performance in Friday night's Game 5.
Dodgers cruise to the NLCS
While the ALCS is still awaiting one half of its matchup to be determined, the NLCS is set with the Dodgers, breezing past the San Diego Padres in Game 3 of the NLDS.
The Dodgers bats came to life in a major way, scoring 12 runs to close out the Padres, with catcher Will Smith making his presence felt early and often.
Smith hadn't recorded a hit yet this postseason before Game 4, going hitless in the Wild Card round against the Milwaukee Brewers, as well as the first two games of this series.
He made up for lost time with the opportunity to advance to the NLCS.
After last season's disappointing early exit in the NLDS to the eventual champion Washington Nationals, the Dodgers find themselves in the NLCS for the third time in the past four years.
A series win over the Braves would put them back in the World Series for the third time in four years as well.