Thursday's MLB playoffs: Dodgers and Braves sweep; Astros also advance
Arlington, Texas — Justin Turner and the Los Angeles Dodgers have completed the first step of what they hope is a long stay in the Lone Star State.
Turner put the Dodgers ahead with a record-breaking hit in a big inning fueled by a nice stop-gone-bad by Fernando Tatis Jr., and they closed out a three-game NL Division Series sweep of the San Diego Padres with an 12-3 win Thursday night.
"Records are cool, championships are better," said Turner, who was part of the 2017 and 2018 National League championship teams that fell short in the World Series. "Until you're the last team standing, that's the ultimate goal."
Will Smith set a Dodgers postseason record with five hits, and Joc Pederson had a two-run single to cap that decisive five-run third as Los Angeles advanced to its fourth NL Championship Series in five years. The Dodgers lost to the Washington Nationals in a five-game division series last season.
After earning a spot in their 14th NLCS, to match the St. Louis Cardinals for the most, the Dodgers gathered for a team picture on the pitcher's mound at the same ballpark where the NLCS and World Series will be played.
"We obviously feel really confident about our club, we've still got a lot to work to do though," AJ Pollock said. "We did what we wanted to do, we did what we're supposed to do. We're going to celebrate that, but we expected it."
Turner's RBI single made it 3-2 and was his 64th career postseason hit, breaking a tie with Steve Garvey for the most in Dodgers postseason history.
That came right after Tatis, the 21-year-old budding superstar, made a diving play on Corey Seager's hard grounder, but then tried to make a throw from his knee. The ball skipped along the dirt and past first baseman Eric Hosmer, allowing Mookie Betts to score the tying run.
After 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger was intentionally walked with two outs after already having a 2-0 count, Pollock drove home Turner with a single, and Pederson lined his single over the outstretched glove of third baseman Manny Machado to make it 6-2.
Smith delivered an RBI single in the fourth and a two-run double in the ninth off the 11th Padres pitcher — a postseason record. Betts, a day after his 28th birthday and signed for 12 more years, scored three times and had a sacrifice fly.
"Our offense was great. We had big plays, big moments from a lot of different guys throughout the series," Pollock said.
The Dodgers open the best-of-seven NLCS on Monday in the Texas Rangers' new $1.2 billion stadium with a retractable roof. They face Atlanta with fans in attendance for the first time during this pandemic-altered season.
Julio Urias (2-0), the third Dodgers pitcher, struck out six, walked one and allowed an unearned run over his five innings.
Garvey went to three World Series with the Dodgers and was part of their 1981 title. Three years later, he was with the Padres for their first World Series appearance.
Tatis, Machado and these Padres, who got only one inning out of injured Mike Clevinger this postseason and were also without their other top starter Dinelson Lamet, will have to wait until next season for another chance to overtake the Dodgers.
"They outplayed us. They played better baseball than we did," Tatis said. "We've just got to learn. This is just getting started."
The Padres loaded the bases in the bottom of the second, but there would be no more grand slams — not like in the four games in a row they hit those against the Rangers, including their only two previous games at Globe Life Field. That slam streak was part of seven wins in a row that pushed San Diego into second place in the NL West, where it stayed and finished six games behind the Dodgers.
"Their pitching staff over there was really good," Padres rookie manager Jayce Tingler said. "We had a couple of opportunities to strike when we had some baserunners on. It seems like when we got to those positions, that's when their guys beared down and made some pitches."
San Diego did take a 2-1 lead, on rookie Jake Croneworth's walk after Wil Myers was intentionally walked to load the bases with two outs, and Trent Grisham's RBI single before Tatis struck out.
Only four pitchers had ever been younger when starting a potential elimination game than Padres lefty Adrian Morejon (0-1) at 21 years and 224 days old. He allowed three runs, the last batter he faced being Seager on the play with Tatis' error. The only pitchers younger when starting a potential elimination game were Kerry Wood, Steve Avery, Bret Saberhagen, and Fernando Valenzuela.
►Braves 7, Marlins 0: Rookie Kyle Wright dazzled for six innings in his postseason debut, and Atlanta rode its superb pitching to beat Miami for a three-game sweep and its first trip to the NL Championship Series since 2001.
Atlanta had lost eight straight Division Series, including in each of the previous two seasons, before outscoring the Marlins 18-5, including 11-0 in the final two games. The Braves are 5-0 with a 0.92 ERA in the postseason, allowing five runs in 49 innings.
They will play the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Diego in the NLCS starting Monday in Arlington, Texas.
Wright (1-0) was sharp despite not pitching since Sept. 25, allowing three hits and walking two with a career-high seven strikeouts. A.J. Minter, Jacob Webb and Shane Greene finished the five-hitter to give the Braves four shutouts in five playoff games.
Marlins rookie Sixto Sánchez (0-1) walked Ronald Acuña Jr. to start the third, and Acuña stole second before advancing to third on a single by Freddie Freeman. Marcell Ozuna laced a single that scored Acuña.
►Astros 11, Athletics 6: Carlos Correa hit a go-ahead, three-run homer after Michael Brantley’s two-run shot in the fourth inning, helping the Astros win the series in four games.
Correa drove in five as the Astros – October villains to many a year after their sign-stealing scandal was exposed – advanced to the AL Championship Series for the fourth consecutive season. It will be their first ALCS under Dusty Baker, their 71-year-old manager. Baker earned his first closeout win since the 2003 NL Division Series and improved to 4-13 in closeouts.
The Astros and A’s combined for 24 homers – 12 each – the most in a postseason series of five games or fewer.
Cristian Javier (1-0) pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief for Houston. Frankie Montas (0-1) allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings as Oakland’s starter.
►Yankees 5, Rays 1: Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres hit impressive home runs, Jordan Montgomery and three relievers combined on a three-hitter and New York beat Tampa Bay to force a deciding fifth game in their AL Division Series.
The Yankees bounced back from two straight losses against their AL East rivals to set up an expected showdown between aces Gerrit Cole of New York and Tyler Glasnow of Tampa Bay on Friday night.
The Yankees are trying to reach the ALCS for the third time in four seasons following eliminations by the Astros at that stage in 2017 and last season. The Rays are trying to advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2008, when they made it to their only World Series.
Opener Ryan Thompson took the loss. He was chased after allowing DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly for the second out of the second.
Tampa Bay 2, N.Y. Yankees 2
At San Diego
Monday, Oct. 5: New York Yankees 9, Tampa Bay 3
Tuesday, Oct. 6: Tampa Bay 7, New York Yankees 5
Wednesday, Oct. 7: Tampa Bay 8, New York Yankees 4
Thursday, Oct. 8: New York Yankees 5, Tampa Bay 1
Friday, Oct. 9: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay, 7:10 p.m. (TBS)
Houston 3, Oakland 1
At Los Angeles
Monday, Oct. 5: Houston 10, Oakland 5
Tuesday, Oct. 6: Houston 5, Oakland 2
Wednesday, Oct. 7: Oakland 9, Houston 7
Thursday, Oct. 8: Houston 11, Oakland 6
L.A. Dodgers 3, San Diego 0
At Arlington, Texas
Tuesday, Oct. 6: Los Angeles Dodgers 5, San Diego 1
Wednesday, Oct. 7: Los Angeles Dodgers 6, San Diego 5
Thursday, Oct. 8: Los Angeles Dodgers 12, San Diego 3
Atlanta 3, Miami 0
Tuesday, Oct. 6: Atlanta 9, Miami 5
Wednesday, Oct. 7: Atlanta 2, Miami 0
Thursday, Oct. 8: Atlanta 7, Miami 0