Astros, Yankees advance to ALCS, Dodgers await Cubs or Nats in NLCS

With their backs against the wall in Game 3 of their American League Championship Series matchup with the Cleveland Indians, the New York Yankees kept their season alive with a thrilling 1-0 win at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees had been smothered by Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer in Game 1 and had their hearts torn out in Game 2 when they blew an 8-3 lead in controversial fashion — manager Joe Girardi elected not to challenge a potential foul tip that would have ended a Cleveland threat.

Facing elimination, the Yankees handed the ball to Masahiro Tanaka, who has been dominant in seasons past, but has had an inconsistent 2017 season. The Indians called on right-hander Carlos Carrasco to finish off the sweep and send them back to the ALCS for the second year in a row.

Both starters were absolutely unhittable and the game was scoreless through six innings. In the seventh, with Carrasco having been chased from the game, Cleveland summoned former Yankee reliever Andrew Miller from the bullpen. Miller faced Yankee first baseman Greg Bird to lead off the inning. With the Yankees desperately needing a lead, Bird drove a Miller pitch deep into the second deck in right field, sending the Yankee Stadium crowd into a frenzy. In the eighth, closer Aroldis Chapman was called on for a five-out save. Chapman would record four strikeouts and would get first baseman Carlos Santana to fly out to center field to nail down the 1-0 win. The Yankees would force a decisive Game 5 after winning Game 4 with 7-3. The Yankees would win a thrilling Game 5 against the Indians, and advance to the ALCS.

Much like the Yankees, the Boston Red Sox were also facing elimination in their series with the Houston Astros. The key difference was that the Sox had been bludgeoned by an onslaught of Astro home runs, losing the first two games by identical 8-2 scores. Astros second baseman José Altuve was having a particularly good series, recording three home runs in Game 1.

Facing a postseason sweep for the second year in a row, the Red Sox pinned their hopes on veteran right-hander Doug Fister, while the Astros called on rookie Brad Peacock.

In the first game, little seemed to have changed, as Fister gave up three first inning runs, including a booming two-run home run off the bat of shortstop Carlos Correa. In the third, Boston would fight back with run-scoring hits by catcher Sandy León and designated hitter Hanley Ramírez to chase Peacock from the game.

Rookie third baseman Rafael Devers would then come to the plate to face reliever Francisco Liriano. With a man on base, Devers would drive a Liriano pitch deep over the right-center field wall for a two-run home run and Fenway Park erupted for the Sox’s first lead of the series.

In the seventh, Ramirez and Devers would tack on three more runs with an RBI double and single, respectively, giving Boston a comfortable 7-3 lead. Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. would then put the game out of reach with a three-run home run. After Fister exited Game 4, different relievers combined for seven and two-thirds scoreless innings of relief to finish off the season-saving 10-3 win. The Astros, however, would win Game 4 in Boston, and will move onto the ALCS against the Yankees.

The Washington Nationals have been one of baseball’s most successful franchises since 2012, having won three division titles in that time. Unfortunately, that has not translated into postseason success, as the Nationals have never managed to reach the National League Championship Series.

In their Game 2 National League Division Series matchup with the Chicago Cubs, it looked like this trend would continue as they had been shutout 3-0 in Game 1 and mustered little against Cub left-hander Jon Lester through six innings in Game 2. Washington entered the bottom of the eighth trailing 3-1 when right-fielder Bryce Harper stepped up to the plate facing reliever Carl Edwards Jr.

With his team desperately needing a big hit, Harper drove a pitch deep over the right-field wall to tie the game at three. The home run seemed to energize the Nationals hitters. Following the home run, third baseman Anthony Rendon worked a walk and second baseman Daniel Murphy singled, putting men on base for first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. The longest tenured National drove a pitch from reliever Mike Montgomery over the wall in left field to complete the comeback and give the Nationals a 6-3 lead. The deciding Game 5 will be played Oct. 12.

The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks in three games to advance to the NLCS. They will face the winner of the Cubs-Nationals Series to determine who will represent the senior circuit in the World Series.