DS Recap, Tuesday 10/12

Who needs a low heart rate when you have October baseball?

Three teams faced elimination. White Sox. Brewers. Dodgers.

As for their opponents, the Astros and Braves fought to make their first Championship Series since… last year. The Giants, meanwhile, hadn’t fought for the pennant since 2014. That was a good year for them.

Everything was on the line Tuesday. Houston in Chicago started things off. Who came out on top?

 

Astros 10, White Sox 1

 

This past year, the Astros had a wRC+ of 116 — the best in baseball.

It’s something we should expect out of the Houston organization by this point. In the now-infamous 2017 season, they finished first (121 wRC+). The next year, fifth (110 wRC+). What about 2019? First, again (124 wRC+). They don’t want to talk about 2020 (98 wRC+, 17th overall)… but few people do.

Just wanted to make sure you didn’t forget the Astros offense killed it all year (and the past five years, too). As shown in our Pitcher List postseason predictions, we definitely didn’t foresee a thrashing like the one that Houston just dealt out to a top-five pitching staff.

It took a while for the fireworks to get going. Gavin Sheets and the Sox first took hold of the lead on a solo shot in the second.

Although they didn’t score the rest of that inning, they drew first blood. Momentum is everything in the playoffs. How would they capitalize?

Spoiler: They didn’t.

Carlos Rodón sent the hometown crowd into a raucous frenzy after hitting the universally beloved Jose Altuve with a pitch.

But from that point on, Rodón, in his first start since Sept. 29, lost his command. Two walks followed to load the bases for Carlos Correa, one player sure to earn a big payday this offseason. An absolutely critical situation for the White Sox. But they were dealing with a postseason veteran.

Did you know that Correa already has 283 career postseason PAs? That’s way more than Derek Jeter had at the same point (187 PAs).

Like he has done many times before, Correa came through in the clutch with a two-RBI double.

That helped Correa become tied for sixth all-time in postseason RBIs (54).

The crowd deflates. But the worst was yet to come for Chicago.

A White Sox offense that ranked third in team wRC+ (109) was all but absent. The 1-through-4 hitters combined to hit 2-for-14 with one walk. To be fair, Lance McCullers definitely had his stuff working.

But if you want to win in baseball, you need to aim to score at least four runs. Unfortunately, in this case, that wouldn’t have been enough for Chicago.

Top 4. Another rally for Houston. Single, single, single, double. Three runs this time. Score? 5 – 1.

The White Sox threw all of their best arms at them, but the Astros were relentless. Houston added on a run here and there, but the real dagger came in the ninth.

Remember how Chicago fans so enthusiastically booed Altuve after he got hit? Well, Altuve retaliated by ending the White Sox’s season.

Final score: 10 – 1.

All the Astros deserve gold stars for their excellent performances, especially the bullpen (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K). But Altuve takes home the championship belt for his ruthless game: 3-for-5 with four runs and three RBIs.

Time to look ahead (except for Yankees fans): Astros vs. Red Sox in the ALCS. A 2018 ALCS and 2017 ALDS rematch. So far, each team has won one series.

Who will take home No. 3?

 

Brewers 4, Braves 5

 

2021 has been pretty good for Milwaukee sports fans. Unfortunately, that run came to an end on Tuesday.

The Brewers pitching staff looked monstrous heading into the postseason. Who would want to go against a 1-2 punch of Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff? Not to mention Freddy Peralta and Adrian Houser.

All four of those pitchers had already pitched in the NLDS, so they turned it over to another very solid weapon in Eric Lauer. The Braves relied on ‘ol reliable: Charlie Morton.

Both starters held the opposing offenses relatively in check for the first three innings. Yes, batters reached base. Including in the first inning, when the Brewers had two runners on. But after a smooth play from Austin Riley

Morton came back with this nasty curveball to Rowdy Tellez to escape trouble.

For the first three innings, you didn’t miss much. Except Dansby Swanson’s rough-looking slide into third.

If there’s one constant motif in this game (throwback to high-school English), it’s that both teams mirrored each other. In the fourth, runs finally came on the board.

Omar Narvaez and Lorenzo Cain came through with back-to-back timely RBI singles to give Milwaukee a 2 – 0 lead.

That forced the Braves to take Morton out after 3.1 IP (4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K).

In the bottom half of the inning, Atlanta responded with two runs of their own to tie the score, thanks to a clutch 0 – 2 hit from Eddie Rosario.

That knocked Lauer out of the game as well after 3.2 IP (4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K). Remember how similar Morton’s line was?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to include the “Bonkers Controversial Playoff Play of the Day.” Here is your Oct. 12 admission (ft. Luis Urias.)

The next inning? Two more runs for each team again.

The Brewers got theirs on Tellez’s mammoth shot.

Meanwhile, the Braves played some small ball and three straight batters reached to load the bases. One run came in on Joc Pederson’s GIDP, and then Travis d’Arnaud brought in No. 4 to tie the score.

The two teams were neck-and-neck. Who would get that critical fifth run?

Enter the eighth inning. Both bullpens had done their job up to that point, including a surprise appearance from Brandon Woodruff, who started Game Two just three days prior.

Josh Hader came on for one of his patented multi-inning relief appearances. Hader, arguably the best reliever in baseball this year, made quick work of the first two hitters, striking both out.

Then up came Freddie Freeman. You know, the reigning NL MVP. For reference, this is what he looks like:

All he needed was one pitch.

What’s Freddie feeling after that? Just pure happiness.

In the top of the ninth, the Will Smith experience was pretty tame as just one batter reached. A couple of strikeouts later, and the Braves were marching on to the NLCS.

Who will these two titans face?

Did the Giants pull off a Game Four clinch or have the Dodgers forced a critical winner-take-all Game Five?

 

Giants 2, Dodgers 7

 

With Los Angeles hanging on by a thread, they turned to their young ace, Walker Buehler, who has some experience in elimination games.

In 2018, Buehler delivered 4.2 innings of one-run ball in Game Seven of the NLCS to guide the Dodgers to a 5 – 1 win. The next year, he had a line of a 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, and 7 K in a Game Five loss in the NLDS. Finally, in 2020, with the Dodgers playing a must-win Game Six of the NLCS, Buehler pitched six amazing scoreless frames in a close 3 – 1 win over the Braves.

But this game would be arguably Buehler’s toughest one yet. The Giants lineup is obscenely deep, with nary a weakness from one through nine.

His opponent, Anthony DeSclafini, had an equally tough task to deal with the similarly-potent Dodgers bats. But while Buehler coasted through the first inning, it wasn’t the same for Tony Disco.

The Dodgers came out aggressive. Corey Seager slapped a two-strike single to left, and then Trea Turner jumped on the first pitch for a double, scoring the game’s first run.

From that point on, the Dodgers never relinquished the lead.

The boys in blue had a slow, methodical grind against one of baseball’s best and deepest pitching staffs, tacking on a run every other inning.

In the second, another run for Los Angeles, this time coming on a Chris Taylor sac fly. Their relentless offense forced the Giants to pull DeSclafini super early (1.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, and 2 K) in favor of their elite bullpen. But they, too, immediately ran into trouble.

In the third, three straight walks loaded the bases for Los Angeles. By that point, eight Dodgers batters had reached already base. Just eight batters had been ruled out.

The Giants needed a big play to prevent this game from blowing up.

Enter, LaMonte Wade.

Dodgers hitters must be traumatized by Giants outfielders making ridiculous plays this year. Mookie Betts apparently doesn’t feel that way. Because one inning later, Betts bumped up the Dodgers lead to 4 – 0 with an oppo taco.

Tough for the Giants to come back from that one, especially with Buehler looking like this.

They finally managed to force Buehler out of the game in the fourth by putting a couple men on, with one scoring after they brought in Joe Kelly. Buehler’s final line: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 4 K.

So far, in four elimination starts, Buehler hasn’t allowed more than one run. And he pitched this performance on just three days of rest.

That’s what you call clutch.

Both teams went to their bullpens. Which meant we got the chance to see some pure ridiculousness. What am I talking about? How about this 103-MPH sinker with 19 inches of horizontal movement from Brusdar Graterol.

Excuse me, but how???

This Dodgers pen came to play on Tuesday. In 4.2 innings of work, five relievers combined for 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, and 2 Ks.

Meanwhile, Giants relievers stood no match for the red-hot top of the Dodgers lineup. We already saw Betts, Seager, and Turner with some critical offense, but how about Will Smith?

In the bottom of the eighth, with the Dodgers leading 5 – 2, Smith delivered the dagger.

A couple outs later, and the series is tied 2 – 2. Off to San Francisco they go.

Which of these 106+ win teams will be devastated and which will go on to face the Braves next round? Will we see a rematch of the 2020 NLCS? Will the Giants finally prove they don’t need even-year magic to succeed?

Tune in to Game Five on TBS this Thursday, Oct. 14 at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST to find out.

 

Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Alex Kleinman

Journalist who loves the Yankees and the Bears. One gives me strength, the other leads me to existential dread. When I'm not obsessing over baseball, you can find me at a concert, hiking in a National Park or chasing my dog, Frankie, who has probably stolen one of my socks.

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