L.A. is one win away. One win away from sweeping the Cubs in the National League Championship Series. One win away from the organization’s first World Series appearance since 1988.
Yu Darvish led the charge for the Dodgers in NLCS Game 3 on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, hurling 6 1/3 innings of one-run, seven-strikeout ball in an easy 6-1 victory for the visiting team. Darvish needed just 81 pitches to record 19 outs. He pitched so effectively that manager Dave Roberts let the longtime American Leaguer hit for himself with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth -- a decision that would be worthy of this column’s full focus had things gone even a little differently. Darvish faked bunt throughout the plate appearance and drew a four-pitch walk off Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr., earning his first career postseason RBI. He can claim only one career RBI during the regular season.
Darvish, the Dodgers’ big trade-deadline acquisition from the Rangers, now boasts a 1.59 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and 14/1 K/BB ratio through 11 1/3 innings (two starts) in this 2017 postseason.
Chris Taylor brought the big wood for the Dodgers in Tuesday’s victory, slugging a go-ahead solo homer to center field in the top of the third inning and an RBI triple in the top of the fifth. Acquired from the Mariners in June 2016 for former pitching prospect Zach Lee, the versatile Taylor holds a 1.019 OPS with two home runs, four RBI, and six runs scored through six playoff games. He’s hit leadoff in all six of those games -- all of them victories for Los Angeles -- while bringing steady defense to both shortstop and center field.
Editor’s Note: FanDuel is hosting the Rotoworld Beat the Writers Series, where you can play against five Rotoworld football writers for your chance at cash prizes and free entry into their Sunday Million. Put your knowledge to the test!
And In Earlier Action ...
The best-of-seven American League Championship Series is all tied up at 2-2.
Houston seemed to have Game 4 in the bag, with Lance McCullers yielding just one hit over six scoreless frames to begin the evening, but Aaron Judge launched a towering solo shot to center field to open the bottom of the seventh and drive McCullers from the contest. New York then teed off on the Astros’ bullpen, plating one more run in the seventh and four in the eighth to secure a monumental 6-4 comeback victory in the Bronx.
Judge’s seventh-inning home run had an exit velocity of 111.6 mph, making it the hardest-hit homer of this 2017 postseason. He also hit an RBI double off a fan’s hand in left field in the Yankees’ four-run eighth inning, finishing the night 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored. Including his three-run shot from ALCS Game 3, the 25-year-old rookie slugger now boasts an .820 OPS with three home runs and nine RBI in 10 games this postseason. So much for his October struggles. So much for the big stage being too big.
Yulieski Gurriel was the only real offensive standout for the Astros in this one. He hit a bases-loaded three-run double in the top of the sixth but was thrown out trying to advance to third base and the Cuban slugger ended the game 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. Houston was held to just three total hits, with Yankees starter Sonny Gray yielding only one hit over his five-plus innings and the Yankees’ bullpen again looking stingy. Aroldis Chapman closed it out with a dominant top of the ninth, striking out two of the three batters he faced in a 10-pitch frame.
Quick Hits: Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post writes that the Nationals and manager Dusty Baker "had worked toward an extension" at midseason before "negotiations sputtered” … Corey Seager (back) worked out in the weight room on Tuesday and is hoping to rejoin the Dodgers if they can advance to the World Series … Dustin Pedroia will decide within the next few days whether or not to undergo surgery on his ailing left knee … The Rangers have informed Mike Napoli that they will not exercise his $11 million club option for 2018 … Hanley Ramirez is expected to be ready for the start of next season after undergoing a left shoulder arthroscopy and debridement Tuesday … Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez won't return to pitching for approximately six months after having a right knee patellofemoral ligament reconstruction on Tuesday … Thomas Harding of MLB.com writes that the Rockies are "expected" to pursue a reunion with impending free agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy.