LEADING OFF: Cubs, Nationals settle NLDS in Game 5
A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:
GOING THE DISTANCE
It’s a win-or-go-home Game 5 in the NL Division Series between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals at 8:08 p.m. EDT. Kyle Hendricks pitches for the World Series champion Cubs after beating Stephen Strasburg 3-0 in the opener. Washington manager Dusty Baker was non-committal when asked about his starter, with Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark the most likely candidates.
Back home after saving their season Wednesday with a 5-0 win at Wrigley Field behind Strasburg, the NL East champions have a chance to avenge years of playoff heartache. The Nationals also made it to the playoffs in 2012, 2014 and 2016 and fell in the first round each time, including five-game losses to St. Louis in 2012 and the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.
“Once you get out there, that stuff doesn’t really matter,” said Michael A. Taylor, who hit a grand slam for Washington late in Game 4. “What we did last year doesn’t help or hurt us once we’re in between the lines.”
The winner heads for Los Angeles to play the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series beginning Saturday.
READY AND WAITING
Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros are staying home to start the AL Championship Series. They will face the wild-card New York Yankees, who advanced Wednesday night with a 5-2 victory at Cleveland in Game 5 of their Division Series. Game 1 is Friday night in Houston. Dallas Keuchel is scheduled to start for the Astros, who went 5-2 against New York during the regular season. Houston reached the best-of-seven ALCS by eliminating Boston in Game 4 on Monday. Altuve batted .533 in four ALDS games against the Red Sox.
The Boston Red Sox are looking for a new manager after firing John Farrell on Wednesday following the team’s second consecutive loss in the AL Division Series. The team announced the move less than 48 hours after it was knocked out of the playoffs with a 5-4 loss to Houston. Farrell managed the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2013, his first season in charge, and his contract had been scheduled to run through the 2018 season. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said the team plans to move swiftly on its next hire and the next manager would “most likely not” be a member of Farrell’s current coaching staff. Dombrowski said it would be important to be comfortable in front of media and relatable to the team’s current young core.
CLEAN IT UP
If the Cubs are going to win at Washington in the deciding Game 5 of their NL Division Series, they may need to tighten up their defense. Chicago has committed seven errors in the first four games of the series. In addition, 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant looks to bounce back from a tough day in Game 4, when he struck out four times as the defending champs went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
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