Yankees level Astros series, Dodgers take 3-0 lead
The New York Yankees pulled back to 2-2 in their series against the Houston Astros, while the Los Angeles Dodgers moved further clear of the Chicago Cubs.
Houston's Lance McCullers Jr. and New York's Sonny Gray did everything their teams could have asked of them, but they did not get any help in the Yankees' 6-4 win over the Astros in game four of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).
McCullers and Gray were absolutely dominant, but neither of them were able to come away with a win. They gave up three hits combined on Tuesday, but Gray had to come out with two runners on base in the sixth with the game tied at zero and McCullers had to exit having allowed just one run in the seventh.
The Yankees would end up rallying from 4-0 down to claim victory and level the series.
The National League Championship Series (NLCS) is proving far more one-sided as the Dodgers beat the Cubs 6-1 to take a 3-0 lead.
SHADES OF 2015 FOR MCCULLERS
Stop us if you have heard this before. McCullers left game four of a pivotal play-off matchup having allowed minimal runs and hits and gave his team a chance to win. Only his team did not win. In fact they were far away from even getting close to one as the bullpen imploded to the tune of five runs after McCullers came out of the game.
It sounds familiar because this is exactly what happened to McCullers in game four of the American League Division Series in 2015. McCullers tossed 6.2 innings of two-hit, two-run ball and left with a four-run lead. The bullpen though gave up five runs in the eighth inning and the Astros went on to lose.
The same thing happened Tuesday. McCullers tossed six-plus innings of two-hit, one-run ball and came out with his team leading 4-1. But the combination of Chris Devenski, Joe Musgrove, and Ken Giles allowed another run in the seventh and four in the eighth to cost McCullers the win.
The Astros are now 0-2 in McCullers' play-off starts even though he allowed three total runs in 12.2 innings.
JUDGE IS NUMBER TWO
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been adamant in keeping Aaron Judge in the second spot in the lineup despite the fact he had just two hits in the ALCS coming into game four and had set an MLB postseason strikeout record in the ALDS.
In his last two games, Judge has completely justified the decision, but he especially did so in game four. Judge went two-for-three with a home run, a double, a walk and two RBIs. His seventh-inning home run broke up the shutout while his eighth inning double tied the game.
He is now three-for-six with two home runs, a double and five RBIs in games three and four, both of which came at Yankee Stadium. Girardi is back to being a genius again.
Remember when people said Judge and Gary "weren't clutch?"-- New York Yankees (@Yankees) October 18, 2017
CHRIS TAYLOR, ANDRE ETHIER MAKE DAVE ROBERTS A GENIUS
Andre Ethier finally got into the lineup for the Dodgers in the postseason and he took advantage of his chance immediately. The 35-year-old outfielder smacked a home run in his first at-bat of the play-offs and knocked a single to center field in his third time to the plate. He finished two-for-four with a home run and an RBI.
While putting Ethier into the lineup in center field may have seemed smart, what turned out to be even smarter was how manager Dave Roberts made it work. Roberts put center fielder Chris Taylor in the starting lineup as the shortstop for the first time in his postseason career.
Taylor did play shortstop in 14 games this season, but to do it in the play-offs is another story. But for Taylor it was the same old story he had been telling all season. He went two-for-five with a home run, a triple and two RBIs in the Dodgers' win. That will keep Los Angeles from missing the injured Corey Seager too much.
CUBS EYE WIN AS ASTROS, YANKEES DO BATTLE
The question now becomes will the Yankees' momentum be enough to overcome their most difficult adversary to date? Dallas Keuchel dominated the Yankees in game one and has a career 1.41 ERA in 44.2 career innings against New York. Yankees hitters are batting .190 against him. But having won the last two games and the dramatic game four comeback Tuesday, the Yankees have every ounce of momentum in this series. Is that enough to get going against Keuchel? Masahiro Tanaka is on the hill for New York.
In Chicago, the Cubs will look to stay alive with Jake Arrieta (14-10) taking on the Dodgers and Alex Wood (16-3).