The end of David Ortiz’s career shouldn’t have been anticlimactic, but the Indians had other plans.
The Indians completed a stunning ALDS sweep Monday of the Red Sox, a team that arguably entered the postseason as the favorite to take the American League pennant. They did it behind a surprisingly solid performance from Josh Tomlin, who held Boston to two runs over five-plus frame, and Coco Crisp, who launched a two-run homer over the Green Monster in the sixth inning which proved to be the winning runs.
The Red Sox led all of baseball in runs scored this season by a mile, and they finished 101 runs ahead of the second-place team in the AL (which happened to be the Indians). However, they managed just seven runs in three games against an Indians team that lost both Carlos Carrasco (hand) and Danny Salazar (forearm) in the final month of the season. Hanley Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley combined to bat just .185. It’s yet another lesson that anything can happen in a short series.
The Indians hit five home runs in the series, with Roberto Perez and Crisp even providing unlikely bombs. Jose Ramirez, Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall combined for 12 hits over 31 at-bats. The star(s) of the series, though, might have been Cleveland’s bullpen, which allowed just two runs over 10 1/3 innings. Andrew Miller and Cody Allen combined for 12 strikeouts across seven scoreless frames. Both relievers were ridden hard by manager Terry Francona, so they’ll soak up the three days off before they face the Blue Jays in Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday in Cleveland.
The Indians will undoubtedly go with Corey Kluber – who shut the Red Sox out over seven-plus innings in ALDS Game 2 – in Game 1 Friday. The Blue Jays are still mulling over who will start for them, but it’s expected to be either Marcus Stroman or Marco Estrada.
Giants Fight Off Elimination
It’s an even-numbered year, and the Giants pulled out some more postseason magic on Monday in Game 3 of the NLDS.
Down one run in the bottom of the eighth inning with Aroldis Chapman on the mound for the Cubs, Conor Gillaspie came up with another monster hit this postseason, launching a triple over the head of right fielder Albert Almora to plate two runs and put the Giants ahead. Brandon Crawford followed with an RBI single off the closer to pad the lead and Sergio Romo was able to close things out…
Oh, you thought that was it?
No, Romo didn’t close it out. He walked the leadoff batter of the top of the ninth inning and then served up a two-run home run to Kris Bryant to knot things up, adding another chapter to story that is San Francisco’s nightmare of a bullpen. The two teams had more fun in store, though, from Almora’s likely game-saving catch in right field in the bottom of the ninth to Joe Panik’s walk-off, RBI double in the bottom of the 13th.
The Giants have now won 10 straight elimination games in the postseason, which is just absurd. It’s never been done before.
Nationals Down Dodgers
The Nationals seemingly limped to the finish line with numerous injuries, but they’ve now pushed the Dodgers to the brink of elimination in the NLDS.
Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth homered and the bullpen tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings on Monday in Los Angeles as the Nats took a 2-1 series lead. Washington got just 4 1/3 frames out of starter Gio Gonzalez, who left with his team up 4-3. However, the aforementioned bullpen came up huge and the Nationals wound up tacking on four more runs off of shutdown closer Kenley Jansen, winning 8-3.
The most interesting thing might have occurred after the game, as both teams have refused, to this point, to announce their starters for Tuesday’s Game 4. The Nationals have it narrowed down to Joe Ross and Reynaldo Lopez, while the Dodgers will go with either Clayton Kershaw on short rest or Julio Urias.
Nats skipper Dusty Baker tabbing Ross seems like the much safer bet. He’s been the expected Game 4 starter all along and has pitched very well this season when healthy with a 3.43 ERA over 19 starts. He held a 2.79 mark across three late-season outings after returning from a shoulder injury. Lopez, meanwhile, was really inconsistent over 11 appearances – six starts – with a 4.91 ERA and barely made the postseason roster.
The Dodgers went into the series planning to start Urias in Game 4, but being up for elimination has them considering going with their ace and the best pitcher on the planet. The club is going to have to win two games regardless, so throwing Urias out there at home and holding Kershaw back on regular rest makes sense. Manager Dave Roberts did indicate that they might prefer to have Urias make such a pressure-packed start at home, but going with Kershaw even on short rest surely gives them a better chance of at least forcing a Game 5.
The Nationals and Dodgers play an afternoon game Tuesday, so we should find out fairly early which way Baker and Roberts go.
Quick Hits: There are no plans at this time for Noah Syndergaard to undergo surgery to remove the bone spur from his right elbow. Syndergaard pitched through the issue for a while, but it’s not in an area that caused him major problems … Stephen Strasburg (elbow) threw another bullpen session Monday morning at Dodger Stadium. The Nationals remain hopeful that he could return for a potential NLCS berth, and it sounds like he might be an option to start Game 4 … Danny Salazar (forearm) threw another bullpen session Monday and is slated for a live batting practice session next. The Indians remain hopeful that he can help out as a reliever in the ALCS … Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said Monday that the club is optimistic Devon Travis (knee) can play in the ALCS. Atkins also noted that Francisco Liriano (concussion) had a symptom-free day Monday, so it sounds like he could be available when the ALCS begins on Friday … Steven Wright (shoulder) did not feel good during an extended bullpen session this past weekend. He’s unlikely to be available if the Red Sox advance to the ALCS … According to various reports, Braves interim manager Brian Snitker is the favorite to land the team’s full-time manager gig. The club had narrowed their search to Snitker, Bud Black and Ron Washington … ESPN’s Jim Bowden has reported that the Diamondbacks have Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo at the top of their wish list to become their new president of baseball operations. Rizzo was in the Arizona front office from 1998-2006 …