LEADING OFF: Dodgers seek sweep; Yanks try to solve Keuchel
A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
BRING OUT THE BROOMS
One win from their first World Series appearance in 29 years, the Los Angeles Dodgers go for a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Championship Series at Wrigley Field (9:08 p.m. EDT). Los Angeles is 6-0 in this postseason, setting a franchise record for consecutive playoff victories. Another one would give the storied franchise its 22nd pennant. The Dodgers’ only four-game postseason sweep came in the 1963 World Series against the New York Yankees.
HISTORY ON HIS SIDE
With the AL Championship Series tied at two games apiece, Dallas Keuchel pitches for the Houston Astros against Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees (5:08 p.m. EDT). Keuchel is 6-2 with a 1.09 ERA in eight career starts vs. the Yankees, including a pair of scoreless playoff outings. The 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner tossed seven shutout innings and struck out 10 to beat Tanaka 2-1 in Game 1 at Houston. The left-hander has never given up a home run in 57 2/3 innings against the Yankees. “Hopefully, seeing him twice in one series, our guys are able to adjust a little quicker,” New York manager Joe Girardi said.
It’s a matchup of well-rested pitchers when Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood and Cubs righty Jake Arrieta square off in Game 4 of the NLCS. Wood, who had a career-high 16 wins this season, will make his first appearance since Sept. 26. He was lined up for Game 4 of the Division Series, but the Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks in three straight.
“It has its pluses and negatives,” Wood said of the layoff. “I’ve stayed on a semi-regular schedule. I’ve had two (simulated) games in between against a lot of our regular guys in our lineup.”
Arrieta has pitched just 14 1/3 innings since Aug. 30, including four innings of two-hit ball against Washington in Game 4 of the NLDS. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner was hampered by a right hamstring injury at the end of the season.
“I think the leg issue is pretty much behind us,” he said.
Arrieta can become a free agent after the World Series, so this could be his final start for the Cubs.
HOME SWEET HOME
Aaron Judge and the wild-card Yankees are 5-0 at home this postseason heading into Game 5 of the ALCS against the Astros. The winner heads to Houston needing one win to reach the World Series, so Yankee Stadium figures to be rocking again. “Every home game has been special,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I just feel like the fans are back. And I see things that I haven’t in a while, and it reminds me a lot of when I was playing here.” New York has won 18 of its last 21 home games.
Last season, the Cubs eliminated the Dodgers in the NLCS on the way to their first World Series title since 1908. But in the rematch this year, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and their teammates have been shut down at the plate by Los Angeles pitching. Trailing 3-0 in the best-of-seven series, Chicago needs a win to avoid being swept in the NLCS for the second time in three years. “We have three or four Game 7s in a row coming up right now,” manager Joe Maddon said.
Gary Sanchez is expected back behind the plate to catch Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka after backup Austin Romine caught Sonny Gray in Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday. Sanchez was the designated hitter and broke out of his slump with three RBIs, including a two-run double that snapped an eighth-inning tie. New York rallied from four runs down for a 6-4 victory over Houston that evened the best-of-seven series 2-all.
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