Four teams are left standing. The only intruder in comparison with last year’s League Championship Series is the Red Sox, who defeated the Rays in a four-game Division Series, preventing a repeat of all four contestants. Here’s the coverage of the LCS.
What happened last night?
ALCS Game 1
Boston Red Sox, 3 Houston Astros 4
(HOU leads series 1-0)
Framber Valdez and Chris Sale were the starters, but neither was able to pitch three full innings. Both struggled mightily to get outs and left the ballgame midway through the third. In spite of their shortcomings, neither starter was bad enough to truly jeopardize their team’s chances to take Game 1. Sale only gave up a single earned run, while Valdez surrendered three.
The bullpens came in and shut down things on both parts until Jose Altuve took a hanging breaking ball deep from Houck to tie up the contest in the bottom of the sixth. One inning later, Carlos Correa hit the go-ahead home run off Hansel Robles.
Alex Cora chose to use Hirokazu Sawamura — who was left out of the ALDS roster — in a pretty big spot, down by just one in the bottom of the eighth. It backfired, as the lefty loaded up the bases and gave up an insurance run on a sac fly by Altuve.
While the Red Sox bullpen had its struggles, the Astros’ relievers put down all zeros until the Kiké Hernandez home run in the ninth that came too little, too late. Credit to Cristian Javier, who struck out four over two frames and Yimi García, who got out of the gem created by Valdez in the top of the third.
What’s on deck?
ALCS Game 2
Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros
(Nathan Eovaldi vs. Luis Garcia)
Time: 4:20 p.m. EST
Venue: Minute Maid Park
Chris Sale got the ball in Game 1 and he’s surely the big name in that Red Sox rotation. As far as the 2021 season goes though, Nathan Eovaldi was the ace of this staff and he gets the call here.
The Astros will counter it with Garcia, who by all accounts seemed a little rattled during his first start of this postseason on the road. This time around, he’ll pitch at home and if Houston is to do any damage in the playoffs without Lance McCullers Jr., Garcia will need to step it up a notch to help fill that void.
NLCS Game 1
(Corey Knebel vs. Max Fried)
Time: 8:07 p.m. EST
Venue: Truist Park
Regardless of which team advances in each series, it’s well-established that Yankee fans throughout the nation will passionately root for the National League winner. That team will either be the defending champion Dodgers, or the Braves, who came within one win of playing in the Fall Classic last year.
Because Charlie Morton pitched on short rest in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Brewers, it will be Max Fried on the mound on Saturday for Atlanta. Fried fared well during his last outing in Milwaukee, firing six scoreless innings in a 3-0 win. On the other side of the spectrum, the plan was originally to send out Max Scherzer for Game 1, but the three-time Cy Young award winner was called to close out Game 5 on two days of rest.
Los Angeles has yet to announce its starter, but the expectation is that we’ll see a bullpen game seeing as that part of the staff is pretty fresh, even coming off a five-game series. No reliever went more than one inning in the clincher in San Francisco on Thursday.
Update: As they did in NLDS Game 5, the Dodgers will turn to Corey Knebel to be the opener in NLCS Game 1. No confirmed word yet on who will come in after him, but signs point toward Tony Gonsolin as being the bulk guy rather than a mid-game Scherzer “start.”