MLB’s 12-team postseason bracket has already been whittled down to eight contenders. Now the top two seeds from each league have joined the fray in the Division Series. After advancing directly to their ALDS and NLDS slots via byes, the Astros, Yankees, Dodgers and Braves face challengers.
Some of these challengers prove more than worthy. In the National League, the top-seeded Dodgers and Braves will both be eliminated on Saturday. The Phillies took a 2-1 series lead on Friday with a major win in front of home fans. They’ll hand the ball over to trade deadline acquisition Noah Syndergaard in a bid to upset the 101-win Braves and October-tested Charlie Morton. Meanwhile, the Padres might be an even bigger surprise. A resurgent bullpen helped San Diego frustrate the Dodgers — who went cold with runners in scoring position — and advance to an NLCS game. Local native Joe Musgrove, who wiped out the Mets in a memorable performance in a wildcard streak, will get the ball against Dodgers’ Tyler Anderson.
In the AL, the Astros look like the favorites they are. Yordan Alvarez’s huge home runs led them 2-0 over the Mariners as the series heads to Seattle. Houston stalwart Lance McCullers Jr. will get the ball looking to make up for missing the 2021 playoffs with injury. Meanwhile, the Yankees and Guardians are a day behind after a downpour. Tied 1-1, this ALDS will move on to Cleveland with the upper hand on the line. Yankees’ Luis Severino will face Cleveland’s No. 2 ascendant, Triston McKenzie. Here is the full slate:
Game 4: Braves (Morton) at Phillies (Syndergaard) – 2:07 p.m., FS1
Game 3: Astros (McCullers Jr.) vs. Mariners (Kirby) – 4:07 p.m., TBS
Game 3: Yankees (Severino) vs. Guardians (McKenzie) – 7:37 p.m., TBS
Game 4: Dodgers (Anderson) at Padres (Musgrove) – 9:37 p.m., FS1
[Full updated MLB playoff TV schedule]
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Phillies wax Braves in Game 4, advance to NLCS
The last team in the playoffs is the first team in the Championship Series. The Philadelphia Phillies beat defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves, 8-3, in Game 4 to win the NLDS and move on. The No. 6-seeded Phillies eliminate the No. 2-seeded Braves in the first full season that MLB’s playoff format admits six teams from each league. The Phillies finished 14 games behind the Braves in the regular season.
However, none of that matters now. Under Rob Thomson — who took over from Joe Girardi in June — the Phillies are 70-47, including their burst of success to start this playoffs. They eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals, champions of NL Central, and now the Braves, champions of NL East.
The Phillies once again put the Braves on the ropes with a key home run early in the game. This one came from midseason trade acquisition Brandon Marsh, whose second-placed three-pointer opened the scoring. In the third, JT Realmuto put an exclamation mark on the early wave with a home run inside the park. Bryce Harper finished with a homer in the eighth inning – his third of the playoffs.
Atlanta can view this streak as an unfortunate streak of compromised pitching performance. In the three games they lost, Max Fried was sick, Spencer Stride was exhausted in his first game after an oblique injury, and Charlie Morton was out after being hit by a ghost. That doesn’t change the fact that the Phillies surged, hammering hits against starters and relievers.
After a strong start from ace Aaron Nola in Game 3, the Phillies turned to a bullpen-centric approach in Game 4. Noah Syndergaard went three innings and then gave it to a total of five relief arms to complete the game and the series. .
Regardless of who wins the Dodgers-Padres series, the Phillies will travel to meet them for Game 1 of the NLCS starting Tuesday.
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