Two teams advanced to the Championship Series on Monday, both of which were expected to get at least this far all season long. First, the Houston Astros advanced to their first ALCS since 2005 with a close 5-4 win in Game 4 against the Boston Red Sox. Josh Reddick had the game-winning RBI single in the eighth inning, giving Houston the lead for good on the road. It was an awkward battle of the aces in this one, as both Justin Verlander and Chris Sale came out of the bullpen and dealt. It was Verlander who earned his second win of the series, allowing just one run in 2.2 innings. Sale went 4.2 innings and struck out six, but gave up the two runs in the eighth inning to suffer the loss. The ALCS will begin on Friday for the Astros, either at home against the New York Yankees or on the road against the Cleveland Indians. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers completed the sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night with a 3-1 win on the road. Cody Bellinger had a home run and drove in two, supporting Yu Darvish in the clinching start at Chase Field. Darvish went five innings and struck out seven while allowing just one run in the win. Austin Barnes also went deep for baseball's best team, who shut things down with four relievers out of the bullpen, including a save from Kenley Jansen. They will face either the Chicago Cubs or Washington Nationals at home to begin the NLCS. They fell to the eventual World Series Champion Cubs last season and could be looking for revenge this season.
Rizzo, Cubs Inch Close to LDS Victory
Speaking of the Chicago Cubs, they are inching closer and closer to setting up that rematch with the Los Angeles Dodgers. A 1-1 series tie heading back to Wrigley Field definitely put the momentum on their side, and they took advantage of that momentum on Monday night. Anthony Rizzo broke a tie in the eighth inning with an RBI single, giving the Cubs a 2-1 series lead with a 2-1 win over the Washington Nationals. Both Max Scherzer and Jose Quintana impressed in their starts, but neither of them factored in the decision. Scherzer struck out seven in 6.1 innings, allowing just one run. Quintana went 5.2 innings for Chicago, striking out seven with only one unearned run against him. Oliver Perez gave up the go-ahead hit to Rizzo, as the Nationals' hopes of their first postseason series win since moving to D.C. are getting slimmer and slimmer. The Cubs were very fortunate, as the Nats could not capitalize on their four errors to take a convincing lead, although a two-error play on outfielder Kyle Schwarber gave the NL East Champions their lone run. Chicago will look to clinch the NLDS at home on Tuesday night, as Jake Arrieta and Stephen Strasburg will match up on the mound.
Yankees Force Game 5 Against Indians
The New York Yankees overcame their pitching woes from the first two games on the road and got back on track in Games 3 and 4 at Yankee Stadium, and that was enough for them to force a decisive Game 5 with the American League's best team. Gary Sanchez went deep in Monday's Game 4, helping the Yankees top the Cleveland Indians 7-3, evening the series at two-apiece. The Yankees broke things open in the second with four runs, including a big two-run double from Aaron Judge. That all supported Luis Severino's masterful effort, as he went seven innings and struck out nine, overcoming the two Indians' home runs. Carlos Santana had a two-run shot, while Roberto Perez added a solo blast in The Tribe's loss. Trevor Bauer was pitching on three days' rest for the Indians, but was pulled in the second inning after New York's quick start. The Indians did not help their starter, committing four errors, which led to six unearned runs and set a franchise record for a postseason game. This coming from a team that committed only 76 errors all season long. Game 5 will take place back in Cleveland on Wednesday night, with C.C. Sabathia matching up against Corey Kluber.