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Baseball Daily Dose

Postseason Dose: Verlander!

by Nathan Grimm
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The difference between an aggressive play and a dumb one is usually defined by the outcome.


If, for example, Jose Altuve had been thrown out by a few feet, as it appeared he would be after a strong relay throw to the plate, it would have been labeled dumb, running his team out of a potential game-winning rally in the ninth inning of Saturday's ALCS Game 2.


But Sanchez couldn't handle throw from shortstop Didi Gregorius, allowing Altuve to race around and score the winning run and turning the diminutive second baseman from goat to hero.


"Bottom line is, if I catch that ball, he's going to be out," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I dropped the ball. It was a small bounce, but that's a play that I know I can make."


The mistake loomed large in a game devoid of many, especially from Astros starter Justin Verlander. Aside from a Todd Frazier RBI double in the fourth inning, Verlander was nearly perfect, going the distance while striking out 13 in a complete-game win.


"This is such a big moment for our team, but he put us on his back today with his pitching," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.


He was backed by Altuve and Carlos Correa, who plated both of the Astros' runs with a solo homer and, later, his walk-off RBI double that brought Altuve home. Correa has seven hits, including three home runs, in his last five games.


The Yankees have now been on the wrong side of two close, 2-1 games, and find themselves in a two-game series hole as they head back to New York. Fortunately for the club, they're no strangers to this position -- they overcame a similar deficit against the Indians in the Division Series.


"We lost the game," Sanchez said. "There's nothing we can do about that. We've got to turn the page and look forward to Monday, and playing good at home."


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Behind Bullpen, Dodgers Take Game 1


The Dodgers used six pitchers in Saturday's NLCS Game 1.


The least effective? Clayton Kershaw.


Kershaw battled through five innings, allowing two runs on four hits, but the Dodgers' bullpen tossed four perfect innings in relief to take down the Cubs 5-2 in the series opener.


Kershaw had less-than-stellar stuff from the outset but managed to get through three innings without incident. The Cubs got to the ace in the fourth, though, when Albert Almora followed a Willson Contreras single with a two-run homer, the first of his postseason career.


The Dodgers pushed across two runs against Cubs starter Jose Quintana in the bottom of the fifth to get Kershaw off the hook, and a Chris Taylor home run in the bottom of the sixth inning ended up being the winning run. Kenta Maeda, who pitched a scoreless inning in relief, got the win for the Dodgers, while reliever Hector Rondon, who wasn't on the Cubs' Division Series roster, took the loss.


Maeda was one of five Dodgers relievers to keep the Cubs off the basepaths over the game's final four innings. Tony Cingrani, Maeda, Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson bridged the gap to closer Kenley Jansen, who struck out all four batters he faced to earn the save.


Along with Taylor, Yasiel Puig provided offense for the Dodgers. The dynamic right fielder swatted an RBI double in the fifth inning before providing an insurance run with a solo homer in the seventh.


Sunday's Game 2 will be another matchup of tough lefties, with Jon Lester pitching for the Cubs and Rich Hill taking the mound for the Dodgers.


Seager (Back) Out For NLCS


The Dodgers took Game 1 despite an All-Star-sized hole in their lineup.


Corey Seager, who hurt his back in Game 3 of the Division Series last week, was left off the club's roster for the Championship Series, the team announced Saturday. Joc Pederson was added to the roster in his place.


“This sucks,” Seager said of the situation.


Seager sustained a lower back strain in the game, and despite receiving an epidural injection Tuesday, he wasn't feeling well enough to be ready for Saturday's series opener. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the team made the decision to leave Seager off the roster because they weren't optimistic he would be ready for Tuesday's Game 3 in Chicago.


Charlie Culberson, who wasn't even on the Dodgers' roster for the Division Series, got the start at shortstop in Saturday's Game 1. The aforementioned Taylor and Enrique Hernandez both also have experience at the position. Both were also in the lineup for Saturday's game, Hernandez in left field and Taylor in center.


The team characterized Seager as "day to day," suggesting that the back injury isn't debilitating to the point of being a season-ending injury. If the team were to advance to the World Series, it's hard to imagine Seager won't be available in some capacity.


Quick Hits: Kyle Hendricks will start NLCS Game 3 Tuesday against the Dodgers, and Jake Arrieta will start Game 4, the team announced Saturday. Hendricks was a mixed bag in the Division Series, owning the Nationals in Game 1 before surrendering four runs in an abbreviated Game 5 start. He'll have the luxury of starting at home Tuesday ... Luis Severino left Saturday's game after just four innings due to concerns about his right shoulder, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the team had his shoulder checked out and that he's fine. Severino was displeased with being removed, in fact, Girardi said. If the Yankees can extend the series, it sounds like the 23-year-old should be available to pitch if needed ... Cubs manager Joe Maddon was ejected from Saturday's Game 1 of the NLCS for arguing. The Cubs were already trailing when a call at home plate was reversed -- it was ruled, after review, that Willson Contreras blocked home plate on a tag play in the eighth inning -- giving the Dodgers their fifth run. That set Maddon off, leading to his ejection from the game. He'll be back for Sunday's Game 2 ... Astros bench coach Alex Cora remains a man in demand, as the list of teams with interest in him for their managerial opening continues to grow. He's interviewing for the open Red Sox job during the off day Sunday, and Cora will meet with the Mets next week. The Phillies and Tigers are also believed to have interest.