Carlos Correa walks it off
The Astros have had their backs against the proverbial wall for a couple of games now. They were able to avoid a sweep on Wednesday, and on Thursday the goal was to force a Game Six, as the Rays were up 3-1, just a single win away from a World Series berth. Both sides were not going to be afraid to go to the bullpen early and often here, with Houston starting Luis Garcia, who had not pitched even in Double-A before this year, and Tampa using an opener in John Curtiss.
The managers would indeed be aggressive with their pitching, on offense it was Houston who struck first. In fact, they struck as early as they possibly could. On the first pitch from Curtiss in the bottom of the first, George Springer jumped on a fastball and turned on it, sending it way out to left field for a solo shot to give Houston the early 1-0 lead. A couple innings later, though, with Garcia out of the game, Brandon Lowe tied things up with a solo homer of his own. Tampa was only allowed to enjoy that for so long, as Houston put together a few hits in the bottom of the third to put two more runs on the board and open up a 3-1 lead.
Tampa chipped away, getting a solo homer from Randy Arozarena (who apparently will suffer grave consequences if he goes a game without a homer) in the fifth. The big shot, though, came from Ji-Man Choi. The Rays first baseman stepped into the box against Josh James to lead off the eighth, his team still trailing by a run. Choi won the battle with a no-doubt shot out to left field, tying the game up at three and putting Houston back on the brink.
Houston went down in order in the bottom of the eighth and Tampa managed a single but nothing else in the ninth. Now, if the Astros were to keep this series alive, it would come on a walk off. That is indeed how it went. Nick Anderson got Alex Bregman to pop out to lead off the inning, but then tried to sneak a fastball by Carlos Correa up in the zone. The Astros shortstop was all over it, sending it out to straightaway center field. It snuck up and over the deep wall and forced this series into the weekend.
Game Six, with the Rays leading the series 3-2, will be Friday at 6:07 PM ET. Blake Snell will be going for Tampa while Framber Valdez gets the start for the Astros.
Braves get back on track
After Atlanta took the first two games of this series, the Dodgers came back with one of the most resounding postseason victories we’ve ever seen. Now, heading into Thursday’s Game Four, it seemed like the tide was changing and L.A. was getting back to where they belonged, which was on top of this series. Atlanta had some different ideas for this one, though.
Bryse Wilson got the start for the Braves after their Wednesday starter Kyle Wright didn’t make it out of the first. This was Wilson’s first playoff start, but he did extremely well with it. He did give the Dodgers the first lead of the game, though, when Edwin Ríos smacked a solo shot in the third to put his team up 1-0. That, however, was the only run Wilson allowed in six innings of work. On the other side, Atlanta was struggling a bit against Clayton Kershaw, but Marcell Ozuna tied up the game with a solo shot of his own in the fourth.
The sixth inning would be the story of the game. Kershaw was still in to start things for the Dodgers, and the inning started with Ronald Acuña just barely beating out an infield single. That opened the floodgates. The Braves added six hits, half of which were doubles, plus a walk to ultimately put six runs on the board and suddenly take a 7-1 lead. There was some criticism for Dave Roberts leaving Kershaw in for that inning, and while it wasn’t totally unfair the bullpen didn’t exactly cover itself in glory after Kershaw was removed in the middle of the frame.
The Dodgers did threaten a bit in the seventh as they tried to answer back, loading up the bases with just one out. They managed just one run, and that pretty ended the game. Atlanta wound up with an emphatic 10-2 win, putting them one win away from the World Series.
Game Five will be on Friday starting at 9:08 PM ET. Atlanta has not yet announced their starter while Dustin May will go for L.A.