Western Courier

MLB Championship series heating up

David Koier, Courier Staff

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It has been a very strange October for Major League Baseball this year, and it’s about to get even stranger. The National League Division Series saw the Milwaukee Brewers sweep the Colorado Rockies to earn their 11th straight win and their first trip back to the Championship Series since 2011.

The Los Angeles Dodgers looked to sweep the Atlanta Braves, but the Braves gave the Dodgers a scare in game three earning a 6-5 win. The Dodgers didn’t let that loss phase them as they won game four 6-2 sending them to their third straight appearance in the Championship Series.

In the American League we saw the reigning World Champion Houston Astros sweep the Cleveland Indians sending the champs to their second straight appearance in the series.

The Boston Red Sox, who are the No. 1 overall seed in these MLB playoffs, faced off against their longtime rivals, the New York Yankees. The first two games held in Boston were pretty even. The Sox took game one 6-5 and the Yanks took game 6-2 as the series then headed to New York.

Yankees fans could not wait for game three of the series to start. The Red Sox have had some bad playoff luck while facing the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in October. Little did Yankees fans know that their cockiness would be their downfall.

Game three was one of the most single-sided, offensively dominant playoff games that I have seen in my lifetime. The Red Sox bats came alive against Yankee pitching as the Sox crushed the Bronx Bombers 16-1.

By the fourth inning, not only had every Red Sox player had an at bat, but each player had recorded some form of a hit. Highlighting the offensive crusade for the Red Sox was second baseman Brock Holt. In game three Holt made history as he hit the first cycle in playoff history. If that doesn’t show offensive dominance I don’t what does.

Game four also saw the Red Sox take an early lead, but the Yankees wouldn’t let up without a fight. The bottom of the ninth inning saw the Yanks score two runs and almost tie it up. To the dismay of fans, they just couldn’t get it done as the Red Sox took game four and the series heading to their first ALCS since they won the World Series back in 2013.

Both series kicked off this past weekend. The Brewers, who ended the regular season with the best record in the National League, played host to the Dodgers in games one and two this past Friday and Saturday respectively.

Game one at Miller Park in Milwaukee saw former Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw face off on the mound against Brewers 2018 trade acquisition Gio Gonzalez.

The Dodgers struck first as shortstop Manny Machado, who the Dodgers picked up midseason in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles, hit a screaming liner to left center field for a solo home run in the bottom of the second.

Gonzalez was replaced in the top of the third inning by relief pitcher Brandon Woodruff. Woodruff played in 19 games this season, pitching in a total of 42.1 innings earning him a 3.61 ERA in the process. Little did the Dodgers know, this would only be the begining of the end.

In the bottom of the third inning, Woodruff led off for the Brew Crew. Kershaw got the count to 2-2 before he threw a curveball that Woodruff got a hold of and took over the right center field wall for a solo home run.

I was in attendance for this game one and let me tell you something. I have attended many Brewers games and watched just as many on TV throughout my life. Never have I ever heard Miller Park erupt the way it did for this hit. The roof was nearly blown off as that ball traveled over the outfield wall and Woodruff, a relief pitcher mind you, trotted around the bases.

That sparked an offensive burst for the Brewers as they held a 6-1 lead over the Dodgers until a four-run surge in the last two innings by LA. This surge wasn’t enough though as the Brewers won 6-5, earning themselves their 12th straight win, and free burgers for the state of Wisconsin.

Game two saw dominant starting pitching from both sides, but the Brewers hit first scoring two in the bottom of the fifth. Another in the sixth made it appear the Brewers were about to take a 2-0 lead in the series, but Dodgers hitting stopped that celebration real quick.

Back-to-back two-run innings saw the Dodgers take game two 4-3 and tie the series at one apiece. The series resumes on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

In the ALCS, the red-hot Astros headed to Boston and showed the Red Sox who the best team in the American League really is.

After five innings the score was all tied up at two a piece, but the ninth inning is where the magic started for the Astros. After taking the lead in the sixth, the Astros proceeded to pound the nail into the coffin after they scored four in the top of the ninth to take game one 7-2.

The Brewers bullpen, which was the best in the MLB during the regular season, seems to be struggling this postseason. If the Crew wants to make their first World Series berth since 1982, the bullpen needs to get its act together. As we’ve seen in both games, the Dodgers and Astros hitting is a clutch as ever in the postseason. Keep that up and they’ll both see themselves make it to the World Series for the second straight year. The Red Sox pitching and hitting both struggled against the reigning champs. Keeping the Astros bats at bay is the most important thing for the Sox in this ALCS.

The World Series is right around the corner and all these teams are playing to make history. Both of these series have the potential to go to Game 7, and I can’t wait to see what dramatic stories we see happen on the path to the October Classic.

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MLB Championship series heating up