Houston moves on to ALCS
The Red Sox were hoping to at least delay the reveal of their ALCS opponent to Wednesday with Chicago forcing a Game Five with a Tuesday win, but their wishes were not granted. Houston looked like the better team in this series, and they made sure to finish this one in convincing fashion. Lance McCullers got the start for the Astros again after pitching extremely well in Game One, and he did it again. The righty went only four innings, but he allowed just a single run to give his offense a chance to put runs on the board.
Put runs on the board they did. In fairness, this wasn’t a blowout from the start, but rather more of a slow drip for the Astros offense. In fact, they were trailing 1-0 heading into the third, but then they just kept the offense going all day. They scored two in the third and three in the fourth, going up by four just like that. They’d then add one more in the sixth, another in the eighth, and and then José Altuve really rubbed salt in the wound with a three-run homer in the ninth to make it a 10-1 final score. Yordan Alvarez was the only Astros player with multiple plate appearances to not get a hit in this game, though he did walk twice.
Braves knock out the Brewers and advance
Atlanta looked down and out this year, losing a lot of big talent, none of which bigger than Ronald Acuña Jr. One of the best players in baseball, he went down midyear with a torn ACL and was deemed out for the season. Atlanta continued to push in, though, and now they are sitting in the NLCS after a Game Four victory.
The Braves took the same path as Boston in that sense, losing the series opener but then winning the next three to take the series. This finale was a thriller just like Boston’s was, too. Atlanta came from behind, however. This game was scoreless heading into the fourth when Milwaukee jumped on the board first with two runs. The Braves followed up with two in their half to tie it. And then in the fifth, Rowdy Tellez gave the Brewers two more with a home run, but Atlanta once again immediately tied it.
That left the game tied heading into the eighth, when the Braves’ best player did what a team’s best player is supposed to do. Facing one of the toughest lefties in the game in Josh Hader, Freddie Freeman blasted a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth, and that would prove to be the game winner, and the series winner. Atlanta faces the winner of San Francisco-Los Angeles in the NLCS.
Dodgers force Game Five
After both Houston and Atlanta won on Tuesday, the Dodgers represented the only chance for baseball to get a Game Five. They obliged, and wasted no time to get going offensively. They had been shut out twice already in this series, but took only three batters to put their first run on the board Tuesday night. That was just the start, as they added another run in the second and then two more when Mookie Betts went the other way for a two-run shot.
San Francisco did get on the board against Walker Buehler and Joe Kelly in the fifth, but they had a big chance with the bases loaded and one out, settling for just one run. L.A. got that run back right away in the bottom half of the inning, and they’d get two more in the eighth when Will Smith blasted his second homer of the series. In the end, it was a 7-2 win and the two best teams in baseball will indeed be playing a decisive Game Five on Thursday night at 9:07 PM ET.
Qualifying offer set at $18.4 million
The Red Sox are still playing baseball so we’re not really in offseason mode yet, but that’s not true for most teams around the league. And we got a little bit of offseason news here on Tuesday. Buster Olney reported that the qualifying offer this year is going to be set at $18.4 million, a slight reduction from last season. As a reminder, the qualifying offer is equal to the average salary among the top 125 salaries in the league, and players who are given the offer can either accept that salary at one year or go to free agency with draft pick compensation attached.
The Red Sox may potentially have a couple of qualifying offer decisions to make this winter. Eduardo Rodriguez may have been in line for one if he had pitched better this year, but I’m not sure he’ll get one now. The peripherals did look good enough to maybe consider it, but I don’t see it happening. J.D. Martinez could also be a consideration. If he opts out, he’d be leaving more than this offer on the table, so it would be an easy call to extend the offer to him. As a reminder, players must spend the entire season with the organization to be eligible, so Kyle Schwarber can not be extended an offer.