Friday, October 6, 2017

Sports: MLB Postseason (Division Series)

The final eight teams of Major League Baseball all have a chance to win the best of five games to progress to the League Championship series. There are new teams, experienced teams, teams that are used to losing, and teams that have recently won. The top teams have home-field advantage against Wild Card teams that had to survive the one game elimination the previous two nights. The other teams won their division and face each other in what should be an exciting battle of the best pitching, fielding, coaching, and hitting in the major league. All teams have their sites on the World Series but first, they'll have to make it through the ALDS or NLDS.

American League Division Series
Boston Red Sox vs Houston Astros
The Houston Astros had the best record in the American League for quite some time but a surprising streak pushed them down into second place. Still, Houston has home-field advantage and can serve as a true inspiration after the city was hit by a horrible hurricane only weeks before. The Boston Red Sox have a history of success in recent playoffs but went out early last year and were at the bottom division in previous seasons. Boston faced a challenge to their AL East title but triumphed and will head to Houston to fight for survival. I'm picking the Houston Astros to progress to the ALCS.
Game 1
This game was airing when I was starting to craft this post so I'll skip the play-by-play for this one. The Astros dominated the first game of the series with an 8-2 win. Home runs were a major reason for the success with Jose Altuve hitting three, Former Atlanta Braves catcher, Brian McCann drove in two runs with a single and Marwin Gonzalez knocked in two runs with a double. Alex Bregman also had a home run for Houston. The Red Sox only got two runs on a single from Sandy Leon and a sacrifice fly from Rafael Devers. The Houston Astros take the series lead.
Game 2
The Astros are leading this game as I write this post winning 4-1 off a two-run home run from Carlos Correa, a one-run home run from George Springer, and an RBI single from Jose Altuve. Jackie Bradley Jr. knocked in Boston's only run with a single.
The Astros broke open the score in the bottom of the sixth Alex Bregman's sac-fly, Correa's double, and Evan Gattis's single gave Houston three runs. Bradley Jr. only conjured up another run for the Red Sox but it wasn't near enough. The Houston Astros beat Boston 8-2 to go up 2-0 in the series. 
Game 3
The Boston Red Sox fight for survival but the Astros struck first with a single from Josh Reddick and a two-run home run from Carlos Correa to go up 3-0. Boston took a bite out of the lead with a Sandy Leon single to make it 3-1 in the second. The third inning had a Hanley Ramirez single and two-run home run from Rafael Devers so the Red Sox take the lead 4-3.
In the bottom of the 7th, the Red Sox broke open the game with a rally started by Hanley Ramirez hitting an RBI double with the bases loaded and Rafael Devers singling in a run. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a three-run home run to top it off and put them up 10-3. The Boston Red Sox stay alive with the series at 2-1.
Game 4
Looking to move on to the ALCS, the Houston Astros strike first with a double play that also knocked in a run for Jose Altuve to go up 1-0. Facing elimination, the Boston Red Sox responded when Xander Bogaerts homered in the bottom of the first to tie the game 1-1. Astros went up again in the second with a single from George Springer to lead 2-1. In the bottom of the 5th, the Red Sox moved ahead with a two-run home run from Andrew Benintendi to make it 3-2. The Red Sox nearly avoided elimination but in the top of the 8th, the Astros got a home run from Alex Bregman (3B) and an RBI single from Josh Reddick (RF) to go up 4-3. The Astros added a run from a pinch-hitting double by Carlos Beltran to win the game 5-3. The Houston Astros advance to the ALCS winning the series 3-1 over the Boston Red Sox. 


New York Yankees vs Cleveland Indians
With an incredible streak, the Cleveland Indians rose up to take the top spot in the American League. Despite their obnoxious name and logo, Cleveland returns for a chance at redemption after losing the World Series last year. 
Game 1
The Cleveland Indians shutout the New York Yankees in the first game of the ALDS. The Cleveland Indians scored off of right fielder Jay Bruce's two-run home and later a sacrifice fly and Bruce also scored off of a double play groundout to win 4-0.
Game 2
Probably the most exciting game of the series went 13 innings after a huge comeback from the Cleveland Indians. The New York Yankees struck first with a two-run home run from Gary Sanchez to lead 2-0. Carlos Santana singles in two runs for the Indians in response to tie the game 2-2. Cleveland took the lead on a single from Jason Kipnis to go up 3-2. In the third, a single from Starlin Castro tied the game and a three-run home run from Aaron Hicks put the Yankees up 6-3. Greg Bird hit a two-run home run in the 5th to put the Yankees up 8-3. The seemingly insurmountable lead vanished when Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam to close the gap in the bottom of the 6th inning so that the Indians only trailed 8-7. Jay Bruce homered in the 8th to tie the game 8-8. The two teams battled into extra innings until Yan Gomes singled in the bottom of the 13th so the Cleveland Indians walked off with a win over the New York Yankees 9-8. to take a 2-0 series lead. 
Game 3
A pitching duel broke out in New York as Carlos Carrasco for Cleveland faced Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees. The game remained scoreless until Greg Bird homered in the 7th so the Yanks went up 1-0. Aroldis Chapman closed out the game for the save. The New York Yankees remained in the series at 2-1.
Game 4
The New York Yankees established their home-field advantage dominance early with a 4-run 2nd inning from a rally. Todd Frazier (3B) doubled, Aaron Hicks (CF) singled, and Aaron Judge (RF) double put the Yankees up 4-0. An error allowed Starlin Castro (2B) to score in the 3rd and the Yankees went up 5-0. The Indians got on the board in the 4th from a 2-run home run by Carlos Santana (1B) to make it 5-2. Roberto Perez (C) homered in the 5th to make it 5-3. It was all New York for the rest of the game with a sac-fly RBI by Brett Gardner in the 5th and a home run from Gary Sanchez in the 6th. The New York Yankees tied the series 2-2 with a 7-3 win. 
Game 5
The New York Yankees won two games in a row to push the series to the elimination game and they started the offense with a home run from Didi Gregorius (SS) to go up 1-0. Gregorius added two more runs with his second homer to make 3-0 in the 3rd. The Cleveland Indians finally got on the board and started to mount a come back in the bottom of the 5th with RBI singles from Roberto Perez and Giovanny Urshela to make it 3-2. The Yankees extended their lead with a Brett Gardner single and an error in the 9th to make it 5-2. The New York Yankees won three straight games to beat the Cleveland Indians and head to the ALCS.

National League Divison Series
Chicago Cubs vs Washington Nationals
The reigning World Series champions don't have home-field advantage against a red-hot NL East champion, the Washington Nationals. The Nationals have some pitching injuries that could hobble their chances and the Cubs are bringing experience along with late momentum to help them go through. I'm going with the Chicago Cubs to win this series.
Game 1
A pitcher's duel between Chicago's Kyle Hendricks and Washington's Stephen Strasburg kept the game scoreless until the top of the 6th. Kris Bryant singled in a run and was knocked in by Anthony Rizzo to put the Cubs up 2-0. Rizzo knocked in another run in the top of the 8th so the Chicago Cubs went on to win 3-0.
Game 2
Pitching was a factor once again as Jon Lester faced Gio Gonzalez. Both teams had an early home run, the Nationals' Anthony Rendon and the Cubs' Wilson Contreras to it 1-1. In the fourth, Anthony Rizzo homered for two-runs to make it 3-1. The Cubs nearly had their second victory when Bryce Harper tied up the game with a two-run home run and Ryan Zimmerman followed that with a three run home run to win the game 6-3. The Washington Nationals tied the series.
Game 3
Easily the best pitching series in the postseason, Max Scherzer of the Nationals faced Jose Quintana of the Cubs. The first run wasn't scored until the top of the 6th by Ryan Zimmerman (1B) on a double to go up 1-0. Pinch-hitting Albert Almora Jr. homered to tie the game 1-1. The Cubs went up in the bottom of the 8th with an Anthony Rizzo single to lead 2-1. The Chicago Cubs go up in the series 2-1.
Game 4
Yet another pitching duel between Stephen Strasburg, able to start again after a rain delay, and Jake Arrieta kept the score low. The Nationals scored on an error in the third to lead 1-0. Strasburg pitched seven shutout innings and a grand slam in the 8th by Michael Taylor put the Nationals up 5-0. The Washington Nationals forced a game five with a win over the Cubs.
Game 5
The Chicago Cubs struck first with a groundout RBI from Anthony Rizzo after Jon Jay's aggressive double to go up 1-0. The Nationals struck back in the 2nd with a solo home run from Daniel Murphy and a 3-run home run from Michael Taylor to make it 4-1. In the top of the third, the Cubs chipped away at the lead with a wild pitch that Wilson Contreras scored on and an RBI groundout from Addison Russell to make it 4-3. In a crazy 5th inning, a double by Russell added two runs, then a dropped ball on a strikeout by Javier Baez and an error added another run, plus a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch puts the Cubs up 7-4. Addison Russell doubled in the sixth to add another run to the Cubs lead at 8-4. The Nationals responded in the bottom of the sixth with a bases-loaded walk and a double by Daniel Murphy to close the gap to 8-6. Kris Bryant grounded out to knock in an insurance run for the Cubs in the seventh to lead 9-6. Bryce harped sac-flied in a run in the 7th and Taylor singled in a run in the 8th to make it 9-8. Wade Davis came in relief for the Cubs and closed out the game against some of their best hitters. The Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals to advance to the ALCS.

Arizona Diamondbacks vs Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best record in all of Major League Baseball and this is even with a huge losing streak. The Diamondbacks survived the Wild Card round and will take on their NL West rival in Los Angeles. I'm picking the Dodgers to go far this postseason so I think Arizona won't be able to stop them.
Game 1
The Dodgers shot out of the gate with a four-run first inning from a three-run home run by Justin Turner and an RBI double by Yasiel Puig to lead 4-0. The Diamondbacks responded with a solo home run from A.J. Pollock in the third to make the score 4-1. A rally in the bottom of the 4th for the Dodgers including an RBI single from Corey Seager and Justin Turner and an RBI groundout from Puig put the Dodgers up 7-1. Arizona got another run in the top of the 6th from J.D. Martinez's home run to make it 7-2. Two more Arizona home runs in the 7th from Ketel Marte and Jeff Mathis made the score 7-4. In the bottom of the 8th, the Dodgers added insurance with a Seager triple and a Turner single to make it 9-4. The Diamondbacks only got one more run on a groundout from Jake Lamb but it wasn't enough. The Los Angeles Dodgers win the first game of the series over the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-5.
Game 2
These games run a little late and while I did stay up until the end, I had to listen to the last part on the radio in bed. The Arizona Diamondbacks started early with a Paul Goldschmidt two-run home run to lead 2-0. In the second, Yasiel Puig grounded out to knock in a run to make 2-1. The Dodgers took the lead in the fourth on a wild pitch and an infield single from Chris Taylor to make it 3-2. A rally in the fifth including a Logan Forsythe single, an Austin Barnes double, and a Puig single made it 7-2. Brandon Drury pinch-hit a three-run home run to shorten the lead 7-5. It wasn't enough as the Dodgers added another run from a Chris Taylor groundout to win the game 8-5. The Los Angeles Dodgers go up 2-0 in the series. 
Game 3
I fell asleep listening to this game but saw Cody Bellinger (1B) put the Dodgers up 1-0 with a groundout. Bellinger homered in the 5th to go up 2-0. Daniel Descalso for the Diamondbacks homered in the bottom of the 5th to make it 2-1.  Austin Barnes homered for Los Angeles to put them up 3-1 in the 6th. The Los Angeles Dodgers swept the series 3-0 over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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