By Matt Citak
We’re halfway through the NL and AL Championship Series, and boy do we have some excitement on our hands!
After Cody Bellinger’s heroics late Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers find themselves tied at two games apiece in what has been an exciting, back-and-forth affair between the two remaining National League teams.
Over in the American League, the Boston Red Sox have continued to play like MLB’s best team, jumping out to an early 2-1 lead over the Houston Astros.
All four teams will be back on the field Wednesday as we inch closer towards knowing which two teams will be competing for the 2018 World Series Championship.
NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers 2 – Milwaukee Brewers 2
We are four games into the NLCS, and at this point, neither team has been able to win consecutive games.
The Brewers took care of business at home in Game 1, led by a surprise hero. Relief pitcher Brandon Woodruff pitched two no-hit innings to earn the win, striking out four batters along the way, but it was his performance at the plate that stole all of the headlines.
Woodruff smashed a 407-foot home run to center off Clayton Kershaw to tie the game at one in the third inning. That was enough to swing the momentum towards the Brewers, as they collected four more runs off Kershaw, chasing the ace out of the game after only three-plus innings.
Josh Hader would go on to toss three shutout innings, helping Milwaukee take Game 1.
It appeared as if Game 2 was heading towards the same outcome as the series opener when the Brewers went up 3-0 heading into the 7th inning.
However the Dodgers were able to get two runs back in the 7th, thanks to a Bellinger single and an Austin Barnes walk, to make it a one-run game heading into the 8th.
With their backs against the wall, Los Angeles received some help from a likely source. After a Chris Taylor infield single, Justin Turner belted a 2-0 splitter from Milwaukee’s stud reliever Jeremy Jeffress over the left field wall to give the Dodgers the lead, which Kenley Jansen was able to hold down to tie the series as the two teams headed to Los Angeles.
Unlike the first two matchups of the NLCS, Game 3 was quite one-sided. Milwaukee took an early lead when Ryan Braun doubled in Christian Yelich in the top of the 1st, and the Brewers never looked back.
Jhoulys Chacin threw 5.1 shutout innings and the bullpen combined to throw another 3.2 innings of no-run baseball, holding the Dodgers to only five hits on the night.
A late Orlando Arcia home run gave them some breathing room as the Brewers went on to take Game 3 by a score of 4-0.
As if the first three games of the series didn’t bring enough excitement, Game 4 turned out to be a classic NLCS thriller.
After an outstanding performance by both clubs’ pitching staffs, the game entered extra innings tied at one.
The game did not come without controversy though. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado clipped the back leg of Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar while running out a routine ground ball. Aguilar’s foot was on first base, and it appeared as if the superstar infielder intentionally kicked it with his left foot. The incident led to both benches being cleared, and Milwaukee calling Machado a “dirty player” after the game.
Los Angeles would have the final laugh though, as Bellinger singled in Machado in the bottom of the 13th to tie the series at two.
Game 5 is Wednesday night in Los Angeles, with Kershaw taking the mound against Wade Miley.
ALCS: Houston Astros 1 – Boston Red Sox 2
In the matchup of MLB’s top two teams from the regular season, Boston has been able to gain an early advantage, jumping out to a 2-1 lead over Houston.
Game 1 was a battle of the aces, as Justin Verlander faced off against Chris Sale at Fenway Park.
Houston’s 35-year-old former Cy Young winner surrendered two runs on two hits in six innings on his way to earning his first win of the postseason. Verlander outdueled Sale, who gave up two runs in just four innings, and the Astros’ bullpen combined to toss three innings of one-hit baseball.
Houston’s bats came alive late, adding four insurance runs in the top of the 9th to help secure the victory.
The subpar pitching continued in Game 2 as Gerrit Cole took the mound against David Price.
Cole allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits in six innings, while Price gave up four runs on five hits in 4.2 innings, but it was the latter that did just enough to help his team get the win.
Aided by a three-run double from Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston’s bullpen was able to hold down the lead and help the Red Sox even the series.
Nathan Eovaldi started Game 3 for the Red Sox, and the veteran looked just as sharp as he did against the Yankees in the ALDS. Eovaldi tossed six innings Tuesday and gave up just two runs on six hits.
The game was tied at two in the top of the 6th when Steve Pearce belted a home run to left field, giving Boston a one-run lead. After Mitch Moreland was hit by a pitch to force in Boston’s fourth run of the game, Bradley Jr. came through with yet another big hit for the Red Sox. The team’s number nine hitter connected on a 94 mph fastball from Roberto Osuna, sending the ball over the fence in right field for a grand slam.
Boston’s bullpen threw three innings of one-hit, shutout baseball to lock down the W.
With the Astros attempting to even the series at home in Game 4, the defending World Series Champions will send Charlie Morton to the mound for his first start of the postseason. Opposing him will be Rick Porcello, who has made two relief appearances this postseason in addition to one start against New York.
Matt Citak is a contributor for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter.