Washington completes NLCS sweep
WASHINGTON — The Cardinals were swept in a four-game postseason series for only the third time in their history Tuesday night when they spotted the Washington Nationals seven runs in the first inning in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.
Unlike Game 3, the Cardinals showed more spunk in this one, rallying to make the game relatively close and they had the potential go-ahead run at the plate in the eighth inning. But pinch hitter Matt Carpenter, one of baseball’s top batsmen ever with the bases loaded, grounded out into the shift.
The Washington bullpen, worst statistically in the majors during the regular season, fired four scoreless innings in relief of Patrick Corbin, who fanned 12, and the Nationals held on for a 74 win to complete a four-game sweep.
Washington advanced to its first World Series in the 51-year history of the franchise (Montreal/Washington). The Cardinals, after outlasting Atlanta in five games to win the division series, finished their 2019 postseason experience with a 3-6 record.
The other times they were swept in a fourgame postseason series were in the 2004 World Series by Boston and in the 1928 World Series by the New York Yankees. They never led in a game in 2004 and they never led in a game in this series either.
Rookie Dakota Hudson was pasted for five hits and seven runs, four earned, in a 15-pitch first inning that was marked by a couple of Cardinals’ defensive pratfalls involving Kolten Wong and Jose Martinez.
The Cardinals, relief corps, starting with veteran Adam Wainwright, worked 7 2/3 scoreless innings. But 14 more Cardinals strikeouts, on top of the 16 they had on Monday, did them in. Nine of those strikeouts were by their three top offensive players — Paul Goldschmidt, Marcell Ozuna and Paul DeJong.
Yankees bested by Astros, Gerrit Cole to go down 2-1 in the ALCS
NEW YORK — There was a heart-stopping moment in the Houston Astros’ dugout, during the fifth inning of Tuesday’s Game 3.
As Didi Gregorius sent a fly ball to deep right field, the possibility of a go-ahead three-run homer briefly electrified Yankee Stadium, until Josh Reddick settled under it at the warning track.
A sellout crowd groaned. The Astros exhaled.
That’s about as close as the Yankees got to Gerrit Cole, who tossed seven scoreless innings and gave the Astros control of the AL Championship Series.
Houston’s co-ace overcame five walks and stranded nine Yankees on base, five in scoring position, in a 4-1 Astros win before 48,998 fans.
After winning 7-0 in Game 1, the Yankees have scored just three runs in their last 20 innings, allowing Houston to take a 2-1 lead in games in this best-of-seven.
And Wednesday’s Game 4 carried a threat of postponement, due to a forecast of continued rain. That could push Game 4 to Thursday and Game 5 to Friday, erasing the scheduled travel date if the series requires Games 6 and 7 at Houston.
At least, the Yankees – who planned to utilize their bullpen in Game 4 – could bring back Masahiro Tanaka on regular rest if Game 4 is pushed to Thursday. Houston could make it a Game 1 rematch by bringing back starter Zack Greinke.
Still, “I don’t think we’ve played the game all year for what-ifs, or what if it rains tomorrow,” said reliever Chad Green, who had a chance to be the Yankees’ Game 4 “opener” on Wednesday.
“You play the game to win today and that’s it.”
Cole survived a first inning scare, getting Gregorius on a groundout and stranding the bases loaded after Houston provided him a 1-0 lead.
Yankees starter Luis Severino barely got through a shaky first inning, loading the bases on two walks and an infield single after Jose Altuve’s solo shot — his fourth homer of this postseason and first in the ALCS.
Following Reddick’s leadoff homer in the second, on a 1-and-2 pitch, Severino retired 10 of the next 12 batters he faced; he exited in the fifth, forcing Green to (successfully) get out of his first-and-second, one-out jam.
Cole stranded two runners in the second, fourth and fifth innings, with that hold-your-breath moment on Gregorius’s deep fly preserving a 2-0 lead.
In three postseason starts, Cole – who grew up a Yankees fan and was drafted by the team out of high school – has yielded just one run in 22.2 innings, following a regular season that could net him, or teammate Justin Verlander, the AL Cy Young award.
Once more, reliever Adam Ottavino was off his game and it proved costly for the Yankees.
Ottavino opened the seventh inning by walking George Springer and yielding a perfect hit-and-run single to Altuve, putting runners at the corners and ending the right-hander’s night, another brief outing.
Zack Britton wound up letting in two inherited runs, on a wild pitch and a Yuli Gurriel sacrifice fly.
In the Yankees’ eighth inning, Edwin Encarnacion was erased at first base on a successful Houston replay challenge. The next batter, Gleyber Torres, belted a homer off reliever Joe Smith, the Yankees’ lone run.
Encarnacion snapped an 0-for-16 since Game 2 of the AL Division Series with a fifth-inning double. Gary Sanchez (0-for-4) heard the boos after striking out twice; he’s 2-for-21 without an extra-base hit or an RBI this postseason.
The game was delayed 15 minutes before the top of the fifth; plate umpire Jeff Nelson exited after suffering a concussion on a fourth-inning foul ball off his mask.
Second base umpire Kerwin Danley went behind the plate and the game resumed without a left field umpire.