LEADING OFF: Kershaw on 3 days’ rest, Cubs a win from NLCS
A look at what’s happening around the major leagues today:
While both AL Division Series get the day off to prepare for Wednesday’s Game 5s both NLDS are back at it for pivotal Game 4s. At 4:37 p.m. EDT, the Cubs host the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, and then the Dodgers and Mets play in New York at 8:07 p.m. EDT.
LEFT ON LEFT
Clayton Kershaw will try to end a five-game postseason losing streak, starting on three days’ rest as the Dodgers try to avoid elimination against the Mets in Game 4. The ace left-hander took the loss in Game 1 but pitched well, striking out 11 and allowing three runs over 6 2-3 innings. The Mets are holding ace Jacob deGrom for a possible Game 5 — or perhaps Game 1 of the NLCS — instead throwing rookie southpaw Steven Matz for his postseason debut. Matz missed time down the stretch because of a back injury and hasn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 24, but was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in six starts this season.
The Cubs will try to become the second straight NL wild-card winner to advance to the Championship Series as they take a 2-1 lead into Game 4 of their NLDS against the Cardinals. Last year, the Giants won at Pittsburgh in the wild-card game and then rolled past Washington and St. Louis before beating the Royals in the World Series. The Cubs are looking to stay on a similar path behind Jason Hammel, who had a 5.65 ERA over his final nine regular-season starts. For the Cardinals, John Lackey, who dominated in Game 1, will face a Chicago team that hit a postseason-record six homers in Game 3.
BACK AT IT
Adrian Beltre and his ailing back get a needed off day before the Rangers face the Blue Jays in a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday in Toronto. Beltre exited Game 1 with lower back stiffness and didn’t return until he was a late addition for Game 4, where he hit two singles and a deep fly out despite clearly still having issues. “When I got up this morning, I wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not,” said Beltre, who was then asked if he was still day to day. “I’ll let you know when I wake up tomorrow.”
SOCIAL FAUX PAS
Houston has already been congratulated for an ALCS berth by Texas governor Greg Abbott, but it will have to wait until Wednesday to try to punch its ticket. Abbott’s office-run Twitter account patted the Astros on the back Monday while Houston was up four runs and six outs away from finishing Kansas City, but then the Royals staged a comeback and forced Game 5. Abbott, who is an avid Twitter user, responded to the gaffe by telling Astros fans to unfollow his office and stick to his personal Twitter account. He tweeted: “No predictions. Just support.” Collin McHugh will pitch for the Astros against Johnny Cueto in the series finale.