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The Braves held a late one-run lead against the Dodgers Monday as they attempted to force an NLDS Game 5. With the best closer in the game in their bullpen, their chances seemed good.
Kimbrel never threw a pitch.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez chose to entrust the eighth inning to David Carpenter, who allowed a leadoff double to Yasiel Puig and a go-ahead, two-run homer to Juan Uribe. Kimbrel didn’t appear pleased at the decision to not put him in in the eighth, and now the Braves are headed home.
Uribe also had a double on the night and batted .375/.375/.813 for the series. The other offensive hero for the Dodgers was Carl Crawford, who belted a pair of solo shots off of Freddy Garcia. Garcia actually pitched pretty well for Atlanta in what turned out to be a no-decision, limiting Los Angeles to just the two runs.
The Dodgers’ surprise decision to start Clayton Kershaw on short rest worked, at least for one night. Kershaw allowed just two unearned runs over six innings of work, giving up three hits and a walk while striking out six. It’s possible Kershaw will feel the effects later on in the playoffs, and he obviously no longer will be an option to possibly start three games in the NLCS. For now, though, manager Don Mattingly got what he wanted.
Zack Greinke will be in line to start Game 1 of the NLCS. Whether it will be in St. Louis against the Cardinals or Los Angeles against the Pirates is yet to be determined.
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Someone has apparently failed to inform Michael Wacha that (near) no-hitters are hard to accomplish.
For the second time in as many starts, the young right-hander carried a no-no deep into his outing, this time in Monday’s NLDS Game 4 versus the Pirates. Wacha’s perfect game came to a halt with a leadoff walk in the sixth, and his no-hitter ended when Pedro Alvarez went deep with one out in the eighth. The start comes after he fell one out shy of a no-no in his final regular season appearance.
Wacha allowed just the one hit on the day while walking two and striking out nine. Over his last 16 innings, he’s permitted two hits while punching out 18. Not bad for a guy that has made just 10 starts at the big league level.
The Cardinals went on to win Game 4 by a score of 2-1, with Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal getting the last five outs. Matt Holliday’s two-run blast over the center field wall in the sixth inning proved to be the only runs the Cards needed.
The Cards’ victory forced a winner-take-all Game 5 on Wednesday in St. Louis. The Cardinals will go with Adam Wainwright, who dominated in Game 1 with seven innings of one-run ball and nine strikeouts. The Pirates will counter with Gerrit Cole, who was similarly dominant in Game 2 with six frames of one-run ball and five whiffs. A.J. Burnett, not surprisingly, was bypassed after he was battered for seven runs over two innings in Game 1.
Rays Stay Alive
After the Rays failed to score on a bases-loaded chance in the fourth and then watched the Red Sox take a 3-0 lead in the fifth, things were looking bleak for Joe Maddon’s club. But we know better than to count Tampa out.
The Rays got a game-tying, three-run homer from Evan Longoria in the fifth inning and a long, walk-off shot from Jose Lobaton in the ninth. How Lobaton entered the game was a matter of happenstance. Wil Myers exited after the seventh inning due to leg cramps, and instead of putting Delmon Young or Sam Fuld in right field as his replacement, Maddon chose to move Matt Joyce out there. The problem is that Joyce was the designated hitter, meaning the Rays lost the DH spot. It was in that spot Lobaton batted in the ninth.
The Rays will send Jeremy Hellickson to the mound Tuesday for Game 4 in hopes of pushing the series back to Boston. Maddon chose Hellickson over Chris Archer because he thinks he matches up better against the Red Sox, but Archer will be ready in the bullpen at the first sign of trouble. Boston will go with trade deadline acquisition Jake Peavy Tuesday.
A’s Gain Edge
The A’s and Tigers managed just one run combined in Saturday’s ALDS Game 2, with Oakland winning on a Stephen Vogt walk-off single in the ninth inning. On Monday in Detroit, there was a bit more offense to take in, particularly from the road team.
Oakland got six extra-base hits, including three home runs, in the 6-3 victory. All three longballs came off of Anibal Sanchez, which was stunning given that he served up just nine in 182 innings during the regular season. The dingers all came in the middle innings, courtesy of Josh Reddick (solo), Brandon Moss (solo) and Seth Smith (two-run). The A’s also got a big night out of Coco Crisp, who went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a stolen base.
The A’s only got five innings out of Jarrod Parker (he allowed three runs), but their bullpen saved the day with some fantastic work, as Dan Otero, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour allowed just two hits and no runs over four frames. The Tigers’ bullpen was also terrific (Jose Alvarez in particular with his three hitless innings), but the damage had already been done with Sanchez’s poor showing.
Even though they’re facing elimination on Tuesday in Game 4, the Tigers will stick with their initial plan and start Doug Fister rather than going to Max Scherzer on short rest. Dan Straily will get the ball for the A’s.
National League Quick Hits: Carlos Gonzalez has decided against having surgery on his sprained right middle finger. If he had undergone an operation, it likely would have necessitated about three months of rehab ... Kyuji Fujikawa played catch Monday for the first time since his Tommy John surgery. He’s hoping to be ready by midseason next year ... Miguel Montero underwent surgery over the weekend to clean up an infection in his left index finger. He’s expected to be fine for spring training ... Former Nationals and Indians skipper Manny Acta interviewed for the Cubs’ vacant managerial post Monday ...
American League Quick Hits: Wil Myers is expected to be ready to play Tuesday after exiting Monday’s contest with leg cramps ... Torii Hunter jammed his shoulder on the first play of Monday’s game, but X-rays came back clean and he’s expected to be fine for Game 4 ... Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com says the Yankees are "prepared to give Joe Girardi as much time as he needs" to make a decision about their contract offer. Girardi is also being courted by the Cubs ... Nick Swisher is not expected to require surgery on his left shoulder. The shoulder bothered him for much of the season ...