Rockies

Chicago Cubs plane diverted to Albuquerque for medical issue
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A flight carrying the Chicago Cubs to Los Angeles was diverted to New Mexico early Friday due to a medical issue on board. The plane was on its way to California again within a few hours. Albuquerque International Sunport spokesman Daniel Jiron said the plane landed in Albuquerque around 5:30 a.m. Friday. Jiron says the person with the medical issue was transported to a hospital, but he did not know if it was a player. Jiron says the crew flying the plane “timed out” and didn’t have any more flying time left, so a second crew had to be brought in to take the flight to Los Angeles. He says the plane left Albuquerque around 10:30 a.m. The Cubs are set to play the Dodgers on Saturday in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series. Related Articles Cubs come back on Max Scherzer to beat Nationals in NLDS Game 5 Dallas Keuchel looks to continue success against Yankees in ALCS Gio Gonzalez named Nationals starter for Game 5 of NLDS vs. Cubs Yankees complete comeback, beat Indians in Game 5 of ALDS Stephen Strasburg, Nationals beat Cubs, force NLDS to Game 5 [...]
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Yankees complete comeback, beat Indians in Game 5 of ALDS
CLEVELAND — Didi Gregorius, following in the October footprints left by Derek Jeter, homered twice off Corey Kluber as the New York Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians 5-2 in Game 5 on Wednesday night to complete their comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the Division Series and dethrone the AL champions. These bend-but-don’t-break Yankees staved off elimination for the fourth time in this postseason and advanced to play the Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series starting Friday at Minute Maid Park. The AL West champion Astros, led by 5-foot-6 second-base dynamo and MVP candidate Jose Altuve, went 5-2 against the wild-card winners this season. After winning twice in New York, the Yankees — with little offensive help from rookie star Aaron Judge — came into Progressive Field and finished off the Indians, who won 102 games during the regular season, ripped off a historic 22-game streak and were favored to get back to the World Series after losing in seven games a year ago to the Chicago Cubs. Cleveland’s Series drought turns 70 next year — baseball’s longest dry spell. The Indians closed to 3-2 in the fifth against starter CC Sabathia before David Robertson pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings for the win. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who faced Cleveland in last year’s spine-tingling World Series and signed an $86 million free agent contract in December, worked two innings for the save. Chapman went to the mound with a three-run lead in the ninth after Brett Gardner battled Cody Allen for 12 pitches before hitting an RBI single, with New York’s fifth run scoring when Todd Frazier raced home on right fielder Jay Bruce’s throwing error. Gardner’s gritty at-bat was symbolic of these Yankees. They wouldn’t give in. When Austin Jackson was called out on strikes to end it, the Yankees rushed to the mound to celebrate with a wide-eyed Chapman. These baby Bronx Bombers became the 10th team to overcome a 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-five playoff series. New York also did it in 2001, rallying to beat Oakland — a series remembered for Jeter’s backhand flip to home plate. Gregorius, who took over at shortstop following Jeter’s retirement after the 2014 season, hit a solo homer in the first off Kluber and added a two-run shot in the third off Cleveland’s ace, who didn’t look like himself during either start in this series. Related ArticlesOctober 12, 2017 Gio Gonzalez named Nationals starter for Game 5 of NLDS vs. Cubs October 11, 2017 Stephen Strasburg, Nationals beat Cubs, force NLDS to Game 5 October 11, 2017 Can Dellin Betances be trusted? Reliever’s wild streak could be Yankees’ downfall. October 11, 2017 Red Sox fire manager John Farrell after second straight ALDS defeat October 10, 2017 NLDS Game 4 of Cubs-Nationals rained out, set to play Wednesday One win shy of a Series title last year, the Indians had only one goal in mind in 2017. They came up short again, and have now lost six consecutive games with a chance to clinch a postseason series dating to last year’s World Series, when they squandered a 3-1 lead to the Chicago Cubs. Cleveland is the first team in history to blow a two-game series lead in consecutive postseasons. Everything was set up for the Indians: Kluber on the mound, Game 5 at home, sensational setup man Andrew Miller rested. The Yankees, though, wouldn’t be denied. They battled back from a 3-0 deficit in the first inning of their wild-card game against Minnesota and then had to overcome a crushing loss in Game 2, when manager Joe Girardi’s decision not to challenge a hit batter, drew heavy criticism and possibly cost New York during in a 9-8 loss in 13 innings. But these young Yankees, who are ahead of schedule to be contenders, displayed pinstriped pride. “This team has never stopped fighting and never stopped believing,” Girardi said before Game 5. “That’s the mark of a very good team. They know how to persevere and continue to grind out everything, whether it’s an at-bat or it’s on the other side, you’re facing a batter, how you grind it out.” The Yankees did it without much help from Judge, who struck out four times in Game 5, and went 1 for 20 (.050) in the series with 16 strikeouts. But the 6-foot-7 rookie might have saved New York’s season in Game 3, when he reached above the right-field wall to rob Francisco Lindor of a two-run homer in a 1-0 win. Kluber was one of baseball’s most consistent pitchers all season, winning 18 games and leading the AL with a 2.25 ERA. He’s a favorite to win his second Cy Young Award. However, October has been cruel to the right-hander. He allowed nine runs, including four homers, over 6 1/3 innings in two postseason starts, hardly what he or the [...]
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Gio Gonzalez named Nationals starter for Game 5 of NLDS vs. Cubs
WASHINGTON — Left-hander Gio Gonzalez was picked to start Game 5 for the Washington Nationals on Thursday night in their NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs. The Nationals announced their pitching choice on Twitter a little less than six hours before the deciding game was scheduled to begin at their stadium. Exactly five years ago to the day, Gonzalez was the starter in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, a contest Washington led 6-0 before losing 9-7. “Didn’t do too well,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said, “so I’m sure redemption is on his mind.” Related ArticlesOctober 11, 2017 Yankees complete comeback, beat Indians in Game 5 of ALDS October 11, 2017 Stephen Strasburg, Nationals beat Cubs, force NLDS to Game 5 October 11, 2017 Can Dellin Betances be trusted? Reliever’s wild streak could be Yankees’ downfall. October 11, 2017 Red Sox fire manager John Farrell after second straight ALDS defeat October 10, 2017 NLDS Game 4 of Cubs-Nationals rained out, set to play Wednesday Gonzalez, 15-9 with a 2.96 ERA during the regular season, was the choice for this Game 5 over right-hander Tanner Roark, who has not made a start in the playoffs this year and was available in relief Friday. “Everybody is on call,” Baker said, adding that two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer “possibly” would be available to throw two innings if needed. Righty Kyle Hendricks was slated to start for the Cubs. He was the winning pitcher in Chicago’s 3-0 victory in Game 1 at Nationals Park, allowing only two singles in seven innings. Gonzalez started Game 2 of the series, also in Washington, and allowed three runs in five innings of what became a 6-3 victory for the Nationals. He gave up homers to Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo, left while trailing 3-1 and did not factor in the decision. The Nationals have never won a postseason series, exiting in the NLDS after winning NL East titles in 2012, 2014 and 2016. They lost in four games to the San Francisco Giants in 2014, then lost another Game 5 at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers last year. The Dodgers will host Chicago or Washington in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series on Saturday. Cubs manager Joe Maddon made one lineup tweak, replacing Ben Zobrist in the fifth spot with Albert Almora Jr. The Nationals are sticking with the lineup Baker used for Game 4, which Washington won 5-0 on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field to avoid elimination. That includes Jayson Werth in left field and batting second, although Baker said he considered sitting the 38-year-old who is in the last season of a $126 million, seven-year contract. Werth is hitting .071 in the NLDS, with one single in 14 at-bats. “Jayson has been a big-game guy most of his career. So not being sentimental or anything, but trying to be a realist. … Law of averages is on Jayson’s side, big time,” said Baker, a former outfielder in the majors. “I’ve been Jayson. And so I might have had a fit if I wasn’t playing tonight.” [...]
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Can Dellin Betances be trusted? Reliever’s wild streak could be Yankees’ downfall.
As the New York Yankees saved their season Monday night, the latter innings provided cause for celebration and also reinforced a source of discomfort, one that could color Wednesday night’s Game 5. Their most powerful setup reliever might also be one of the most fragile figures in baseball. Dellin Betances is a 6-foot-8, 265-pound four-time all-star who, at various points of his career, has viably contended for the title of best reliever in baseball. He is also a solemn danger to the backstop. Betances can be dominant, but he can also spray baseballs in cringeworthy directions. On Monday night, Betances endured another frightening bout with wildness. Betances entered the Yankees’ 7-3 victory in the eighth and opened his outing with a strike. From there, he unraveled. Betances walked Yan Gomes on six pitches, and then he nearly drilled Francisco Lindor in both the helmet and the belt buckle on the way to walking him in four pitches. Up the dugout steps skipped Manager Joe Girardi to retrieve Betances. “The first pitch was good,” Betances said. “After that, I felt like I was just a little too amped up. I just got to be able to control myself. I got the first guy on, and I felt a little out of whack. I felt like I had a lot of energy out there. I just got to be able to dial it down a little bit.” Betances was remarkably cool afterward as a handful of reporters gathered around him. An ice pack around his shoulder, Betances calmly answered every question. He felt “100 percent,” physically, he said. He was “yanking pitches,” and “I got to be able to control myself a little better.” He was “trying to stay positive.” He insisted he was not dealing with doubt. Betances noted he pitched well in an adrenaline-pumping situation in Cleveland, throwing two scoreless extra innings of Game 2 before the Indians got to him, but “being at home, the crowd was live,” he said. Tommy Kahnle cleaned up Betances’ mess, so his Game 4 meltdown had no immediate repercussions. But the blowup signaled the resurfacing of a recurring problem. During one stretch from late June through early July, Betances walked 11 of 22 batters he faced over a span of five outings. On July 5, he faced five hitters and walked four. Related ArticlesOctober 11, 2017 Red Sox fire manager John Farrell after second straight ALDS defeat October 10, 2017 NLDS Game 4 of Cubs-Nationals rained out, set to play Wednesday October 10, 2017 Diamondbacks with “good bricks” for building after NLDS sweep October 10, 2017 Fan sues Chicago Cubs, MLB after being injured by foul ball October 10, 2017 Cody Bellinger, Dodgers beat D-backs 3-1 to return to NLCS Betances seemed to solve his issues – he walked none in five of his final seven appearances this season, and he dominated in the 11th and 12th in Game 2. On Monday night, though, he had to have given Girardi pause about whether he could use Betances in Game 5. “I know I can help this team out,” Betances said. “I just got to forget about this one and try to stay positive.” Betances’ performance placed Girardi in a tough spot. If he does not use Betances, the Yankees’ bullpen cannot reach its highest level. If he does call on him, he risks getting Betances on one of his bad days and watching his season end in a hail of wild pitches. “I feel confident for Wednesday,” Betances said. But after Game 4, it seems hard to fathom that the Yankees could place any confidence, much less the fate of their season, in him. [...]
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Diamondbacks with “good bricks” for building after NLDS sweep
PHOENIX — Archie Bradley walked off the mound after another scoreless relief outing and tried to appreciate the moment. Arizona’s season ended in a 3-1 defeat Monday night to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of an NL Division Series, and Bradley wanted to soak it in. The young, bearded hurler has become a local favorite for his hard-nosed, emotional style, and with his 2 2/3 innings complete, he got a chance to take note of the atmosphere. “Even though we were losing, I just wanted to look up and enjoy a baseball game. Be a part of something bigger than the regular season and bigger than yourself,” Bradley said. “It was a fun time, I wish we could’ve won.” The Diamondbacks went from 69-93 a year ago to 93-69, a wild-card game win over Colorado and a place in the NLDS. They did so under new management on the field and in the front office, and became one of the surprises of the MLB season with their unexpected success. Not long after the final out of Game 3, players embraced and congratulated each other in the Diamondbacks clubhouse. There was the sadness of being swept and the season being over, but plenty of smiles at memories of a successful year few expected. Manager Torey Lovullo’s family atmosphere clearly made a big difference with the young club. “We have laid a lot of good bricks down on our foundation,” Lovullo said. “This organization is in good hands with ownership and the front office, and I think there’s going to be a lot of successful years in the future.” The Diamondbacks will have some decisions to make on free agents in the offseason, most notably slugging outfielder J.D. Martinez, who arrived via trade with Detroit in July and hit .302 with 29 home runs and 65 runs batted in over 62 games with Arizona. Martinez expressed a desire to remain in the desert and be part of a power-hitting lineup that includes MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and young slugger Jake Lamb. “You look at this team from the outside and it’s kind of like, let’s watch these guys because they’re going to keep growing,” Martinez said. “This team was great. This is obviously some of the best times I’ve ever had in my life playing professional baseball. … Obviously I would love to come back, but I don’t know what the future holds or where God wants me to go. But hope it’s here.” Related ArticlesOctober 10, 2017 Fan sues Chicago Cubs, MLB after being injured by foul ball October 10, 2017 Cody Bellinger, Dodgers beat D-backs 3-1 to return to NLCS October 9, 2017 Luis Severino, Aaron Judge help Yankees top Indians to force Game 5 October 9, 2017 Cubs rally past Max Scherzer, Nationals, lead NLDS 2-1 October 9, 2017 Justin Verlander pitches Astros past Red Sox in Game 4 to advance to ALCS Many more Diamondbacks had successful seasons and figure to be part of the core group going forward. David Peralta hit .293 out of the leadoff spot in 2017, his vocal leadership a key part of the dugout and clubhouse atmosphere. The young starting rotation came of age fast, with All-Star Robbie Ray having a breakout campaign going 15-5 and Patrick Corbin and Taijuan Walker combining for 23 wins. Veteran Daniel Descalso, who provided a major boost off the bench and as a part-time starting second baseman this season, said the Diamondbacks can still get better. Elimination came too quickly, but Descalso was proud of the season the Diamondbacks had. “Odds are that this exact same group will probably never be together again, so it was a pleasure to be a part of this group,” Descalso said. “We battled and we became a family, and we had a lot of fun.” [...]
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Former Grandview star Greg Bird homers to power Yankees to 1-0 win in ALDS Game 3
NEW YORK — Good thing for Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees that Aaron Judge is 6-foot-7. Judge reached high and prevented a home run to save Tanaka’s seven-inning gem, Greg Bird homered off relief ace Andrew Miller, and New York edged the Cleveland Indians 1-0 Sunday night in Game 3 to extend their AL Division Series. “He was brilliant,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Tanaka. “He gave us everything we needed.” Aroldis Chapman got a five-out save as the wild-card Yankees avoided a three-game sweep by the defending AL champions. With two on in the ninth, Chapman struck out cleanup hitter Jay Bruce before Carlos Santana flied out to end it. Game 4 is Monday night at Yankee Stadium, with young ace Luis Severino scheduled to start for New York. Cleveland will go with Game 1 winner Trevor Bauer on three days’ rest, though there’s rain in the forecast. “I consider this normal rest for me. I enjoy pitching on short (rest),” Bauer said. “If I could draw it out, personally, this is how I’d pitch every time.” New York got a splendid performance from Tanaka in an old-fashioned October pitching duel with Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco. Tanaka received a big boost when Judge robbed Francisco Lindor of a two-run homer in the sixth. Bird, the former Grandview High School star, came through with the huge hit New York had to have when he connected against Miller leading off the seventh. The first baseman was fired up as he greeted happy teammates in the dugout. Sidelined by injuries most of the past two seasons, Bird also went deep in Game 2. “I’m not ready to be done playing and I don’t think the rest of the team is,” he said. New York rebounded after blowing a five-run lead Friday during a 13-inning loss in Game 2 that led to heavy criticism of Girardi, booed Sunday night by the home crowd during pregame introductions. “Not the first time,” Girardi said, acknowledging it’s no fun to hear catcalls. “I kind of expected it.” This was the Yankees’ first 1-0 postseason victory since Game 3 of their 2001 ALDS against Oakland, when Derek Jeter’s backhanded flip beat Jeremy Giambi to the plate for a crucial, memorable out. Judge’s grab was the big defensive play Sunday. With a runner on first in a scoreless game, Lindor lofted a sixth-inning drive toward the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium. Judge backed up to the wall and barely needed to jump to extend his glove above the fence and make the catch, just to the right of the auxiliary scoreboard. “Who better to reach up there and grab it than him?” Bird said. The sellout crowd of 48,614 roared and Judge flashed a bright smile. It was the first time the rookie slugger had robbed an opponent of a home run and the first time Lindor had ever been so denied, according to ESPN Stats & Info. “I had to do something,” said Judge, who is 0 for 10 with eight strikeouts in the series. “I wasn’t obviously making any contact at the plate, so you’ve got to make an impact on the game somehow and luckily I was able to do it on defense.” Tanaka tipped his cap in appreciation and held Cleveland down until he was done. The right-hander, beaten 3-0 by Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros in the 2015 AL wild-card game, struck out seven, walked one and allowed three hits. He whiffed three of his first four batters and was aided by two double plays. “That’s the best performance that I’ve seen from him,” Girardi said. The biggest test for Tanaka came in the fourth, after Jason Kipnis’ one-out triple glanced off the thumb of Judge’s glove in deep right field and rolled away. Tanaka beared down and fanned No. 3 batter Jose Ramirez and Bruce, then turned to shout and slapped his mitt in excitement. “I came here to pitch in these type of games,” Tanaka said through a translator. Bruce, a big star in the first two games, struck out all four times up while batting fourth in place of injured slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who sat out after leaving Game 2 with a sprained right ankle. Michael Brantley filled in for Encarnacion as the designated hitter and went 0 for 2 with a walk. Tanaka delivered under pressure in his second career playoff start. After going 13-12 with a 4.74 ERA during an inconsistent season, he was pitching on eight days’ rest but looked plenty sharp. In his previous outing, he struck out a career-high 15 over seven scoreless innings in his final regular-season start against Toronto. Carrasco matched Tanaka into the sixth. The 18-game winner gave up three hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. Also helped by two double plays, he struck out seven and was lifted with the bases loaded. Miller retired Starlin Castro on a popup to end the inning. “That’s two of the better starting performers you’re going to see,&# [...]
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Lunch Special: Colorado Rockies hot stove chat with Patrick Saunders
The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders is answering reader questions about the Colorado Rockies in a Lunch Special live chat, beginning at noon. Mobile users, if you don’t see the live chat, tap here. (function(d, s, id) {var js,ijs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//embed.scribblelive.com/widgets/embed.js";ijs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, ijs);}(document, "script", "scrbbl-js"));Gang, time to take the dogs for a walk in the snow. Thanks for hanging out, and thanks for all the good questions. Nice to see such baseball love out there. As for all of the trade speculation questions .... I wish I would be more exact in my responses, but I would have to spend more time to see if any of your creative trades would actually fly. Texas Rockie... I admire your creative trade plan. On a paper that sounds like a good plan, maybe you should email it to Jeff Bridich!  Here’s how I see next year starting, would you agree? Lock up Charlie 3+ years. Bring back Lucroy 2yrs w/ options.Plug and play Tapia and Dahl for Cargo.Add 1 starter via free agency and/or Trade DJ and a prospect for a starter. Plug McMahon in at 2B.Would you comment?Texas Rockie, You make a good point. With McMahon coming up and being able to play first or second, the time might have come for the Rockies to make a trade to a veteran starter. The problem is, teams want a lot for starting pitching, which is why it makes trades so difficult.  It's easy for you and me to speculate and make pretend trades, but real trades are hard to pull off and usually  have a lot of moving parts. Patrick, if the Rockies are sill unwilling to spend on Free Agent starting pitching as you indicated in your response they never will. So, DJ or McMahon must be used as trade bait likely in combination with a prospect or two. What level starter would be a “boost” to a clubhouse already high on their own talent. I.e. Freeland, Senzatela, Marquez and Anderson? They have McMahon with no place for him to play unless they trade DJ. They must do something....right?Pokes n' Broncos, You are exactly right about the difficulty of trying  sign both Blackmon and Arenado.It's a quandary. The thing is, the Rockies need to decide -- soon -- if they want to lock up Arenado long term. If they do, then  Blackmon might not be affordable. If they Rox don't think Arenado is a long-term option, then they need to sign Blackmon for three or four years.       I'm concerned a huge payday for Charlie ($40M/year) will essentially eliminate keeping Nolan after next year. Thoughts?COLO_ROX In regard to Jeff Hoffman. He's got a ton of talent, that's plain to see. But he needs to mature and realize that he has a lot of work to do. In my opinion, Hoffman is a bit stubborn and needs to embrace what the Rox are trying to teach him. He need to move from a thrower to a big-league pitcher. He's not there yet. Any idea what is going on with Jeff Hoffman? I watch him alot in spring training and he seems to have a disastrous inning in each start but shows great stuff in other innings...The same thing seems to carry over into the regular season...why is he so inconsistent? Does the club have any offseason plans to get him right? This would appear to be a make or break season ahead.Greg, thanks for the kind words.Your right, I see McMahon up full time. Tapia too, and Dahl, if he's healthy.  Brendan Rodgers will make his debut next season, but I'm not sure when. I think you will see RHP Yency Almonte, too.  Patrick, who do you see arriving from the minors next year? McMahon, of course, but are there holes expected to be filled by arriving prospects? Thanks for the great articles.Texas Rockie ....I like your proposal, but there is no way the Rox spend that much on Darvish. I like the first two options very much.Patrick, Charlie for 4yrs and $88M. Lucroy for 2yrs and $10M.Darvish for 5yrs w/ options at $125M Or a trade of DJ and Tapia or Patty Barrels for mid market starter. Thoughts?Gregg, After hitting 30 homers, I could see Reynolds landing  a one- or two-year deal at maybe $3 million a year. In this day and age when it seems like everybody is hitting home runs, a 34-year-old first baseman is not going to get a huge deal. how much do you think mark reynolds could command on the open market if he went for top dollar after a 30 hr season?Floyd,. D.J. has never been a pull-hitter, nor a power hitter.  To try to change him too much might mess him up.That said, I do think D.J. will investigate  some adjustments me can make to enable him to beat extreme outfield shifts. All he has to do is make teams pay for it a couple of times and things would get back to normal. Any chance that with DJ's inability (or lack of) to hit a ball to left field (beat the shift) that they will work with him to do so or will they start looking for a more of a power hitter at 2nd base?Jeff, I think the chances of t [...]
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Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman HRs lift Nats past Cubs to even NLDS
WASHINGTON — Things were looking bleak for Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and the rest of the Washington Nationals. They had accumulated one run and four hits through the first 16 innings of their NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs. The situation was hardly ideal. Neither was the mood. “You do your best to keep your spirits up. You get frustrated,” Zimmerman acknowledged. “I don’t want to say ‘pressure,’ but, yeah, I mean, the tension builds a little bit, I’ll be honest with you. … Pouting is not going to help you the next time you come up.” Power, though, will. Harper delivered a no-doubt-about-it , tying two-run homer in the eighth, and Zimmerman tacked on a three-run shot that barely made it over the wall moments later, lifting the Nationals to a 6-3 comeback victory over the defending World Series champions on Saturday, evening their NLDS at a game apiece. “Sometimes,” Zimmerman said, “it takes kind of just one hit for everyone to exhale.” The Nationals were in serious danger of falling behind 2-0 in the series, entering the eighth trailing 3-1 after being shut out in Game 1. But the NL East champions broke out with five runs and four hits, thanks to two big swings from 2015 NL MVP Harper — only recently back from a left knee injury that sidelined him for 42 games — and longtime face of the franchise Zimmerman. “I was kind of bewildered, because it’s not too many teams or pitchers that have held us in check like that for a couple days,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “I just knew in the bottom of my heart that we were going to explode for some numbers, which we’ve done all year.” Indeed, his team reached franchise highs for runs and homers this season, and the Nationals were the only club in the majors with four players — including Harper and Zimmerman — who each topped 20 homers and 85 RBIs. The NLDS moves to Wrigley Field for Game 3 on Monday. The Cubs will have July acquisition Jose Quintana on the mound, while the Nationals finally send out two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, who was pushed back in the rotation because of an injured right hamstring. “The train’s coming,” Harper said. “We’re a great team. We’ve got Max coming.” Yes, this matchup is suddenly a contest, and not a moment too soon for Washington, which has won four division titles in the past six years but never won a playoff series. Jon Lester held Washington to one run and two hits through six innings in Game 2, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon turned to his bullpen and everything changed. Related ArticlesOctober 6, 2017 Kyle Hendricks outduels Stephen Strasburg as Cubs top Nats in Game 1 October 6, 2017 Indians beat Yankees in 13 innings, take 2-0 ALDS lead October 6, 2017 Houston Astros rout Boston Red Sox to take a commanding 2-0 ALDS lead October 5, 2017 Bauer power: Indians baffle Aaron Judge, Yanks in ALDS opener October 5, 2017 Jose Altuve hit 3 homers, Astros beat Red Sox in ALDS opener Pinch hitter Adam Lind led off the eighth with a single in the first playoff at-bat of a career that has spanned more than a decade and 1,344 regular-season games. Carl Edwards Jr. then went to a 3-1 count against Harper and hung a curveball. “I thought about taking the whole way,” Harper said. “And then I saw the loop in the curveball and said, ‘Why not swing as hard as you can?’ Got barrel on it. Pretty good moment.” He took a moment to admire his shot before chucking his bat to the ground as the ball reached the second deck in right field. Harper’s teammates in the dugout reacted immediately, screaming and raising fists as the ball tore through the night air. Maddon defended his decision to have the righty-throwing Edwards pitch to the lefty-batting Harper. “He made a bad pitch and the guy didn’t miss it, and that’s it. Sometimes that happens. Bryce is good. C.J. is good,” Maddon said. “Bryce got him.” With fans in the crowd of 43,860 roaring and twirling red towels, Harper jumped up the dugout steps for a curtain call, throwing an uppercut. Then he flipped his hair on his way back to rejoin his teammates after his fifth homer in 16 career postseason games. “Bryce always steps up right when it’s the time,” said Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, who allowed Willson Contreras’ solo homer in the second, and Anthony Rizzo’s two-run shot in the fourth. “It’s unbelievable what he does and how he does it,” Gonzalez continued. “He’s a story, a movie, everything all in one.” It was the first extra-base hit for Harper since returning from the disabled list during the last week of September a [...]
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GM Jeff Bridich facing critical free-agent decisions as Rockies enter offseason
The mood in the visitor’s clubhouse at Chase Field on Wednesday night was somber, but certainly not defeatist. “We did a lot of things right,” center fielder Charlie Blackmon said after the Rockies’ 11-8 loss to Arizona in the National League wild-card playoff game. “I don’t think you look at a successful season as a negative because of this last game. We saw a lot of improvement this year. We took a step forward.” Now it’s up to general manager Jeff Bridich and his staff to keep the Rockies moving forward. That’s no easy task because a number of players central to the team’s success this past season are unlikely to return,  including closer Greg Holland and right-fielder Carlos Gonzalez. Other key players — notably veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy, first baseman Mark Reynolds and relievers Pat Neshek and Jake McGee — are also scheduled to become free agents. Owner Dick Monfort opened his checkbook during the past year and that helped the Rockies break a six-season losing streak and make the postseason for the first time since 2009. According to Spotrac, Colorado’s season-ending payroll for its 25-man roster was $105 million, which ranked 16th in the majors. Colorado’s total payroll was $146.7 million, 17th in the majors. That number includes so-called “dead money” paid to players such as infielder Jose Reyes ($22 million), and relievers Jason Motte ($5 million), Chad Qualls ($3.2 million) and Jordan Lyles ($3.175 million) who did not finish the season with the Rockies. Reyes, part of the 2015 trade with Toronto for Troy Tulowitzki, played the entire 2017 season with the New York Mets, but the Rockies still paid the bulk of his salary. All of that dead money comes off the books for 2018, as does the $20.4 million the Rockies paid Gonzalez this season. That should provide the club with flexibility for free-agent signings, or perhaps allow the Rockies to consider locking up Blackmon to a long-term contract. Blackmon, 31, led all of baseball in batting average (.331) and set major-league records for leadoff men in total bases (383) and RBIs (102 of his 103 RBIs came out of the top spot in the order). Blackmon’s contract expires after the 2018 season, as does second baseman D.J. LeMahieu’s. Nolan Arenado‘s contract runs through 2019 and there has been no indication, thus far, that Colorado has talked to the all-star third baseman about a long-term deal. Holland’s situation is tricky. Bridich took a “calculated risk” to sign Holland last winter to a base salary of $6 million with incentives built in that eventually led to the closer getting paid $14 million this season. More important, Holland’s success triggered a clause that turned a $10 million mutual option for 2018 into a $15 million player option. Holland, who turns 32 next month, has said he will talk to the Rockies about returning, but there are no guarantees that he will. He could be seeking a free-agent contract similar to the four-year, $62 million contract Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco before this season. Teams, however, will look at Holland with a skeptical eye. He tied a franchise record with 41 saves and made his third all-star team, posting a 1.62 ERA in the first half. But he had a 6.38 ERA in the second half and was tagged for three runs in the wild-card loss. Related ArticlesOctober 7, 2017 Kiszla: Thank you, Carlos Gonzalez, for bringing joy as big as the Rockies to LoDo for 9 years October 6, 2017 MLB finds no evidence that Diamondbacks used Apple Watch to steal signs from Rockies October 6, 2017 Wild-card game was highest-rated Rockies game in Denver since 2009 October 5, 2017 After “one bad pitch,” Greg Holland’s first season with the Rockies could be his last October 5, 2017 Diamondbacks deny using electronic device to steal signs vs. Rockies Lucroy, whom manager Bud Black credits with helping nurture Colorado’s young rotation after arriving in a trade from Texas on July 30, said he’s open to returning to Colorado. “I’d absolutely (be interested) in coming back,” he said. “As a free agent, you look at a lot of things. I look at things even more than money. I want to know what teams are going to be in there. I do not want to go to a team that’s just going to be average. I want to go to a team that is going to be good. I want to contribute to a playoff team. “Look, I’m a 31-year-old catcher, so I have to get going. I want a ring, or two, or three. And I think the opportunity is definitely here for that to happen.” Bridich has said he will have “conversations” with Lucroy about re-upping with the Rockies, but has not said more than that. But it’s clear that Bridich wa [...]
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Indians beat Yankees in 13 innings, take 2-0 ALDS lead
CLEVELAND — They’ve won this season in almost every way imaginable: comebacks, walk-offs, blowouts, nail-biters. No. 104 for the Cleveland Indians topped them all. Yan Gomes singled home Austin Jackson from second base with none out in the 13th inning as Cleveland rallied from five runs down to stun the New York Yankees 9-8 on Friday and snatch a 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series. Despite an atrocious start by ace Corey Kluber, losing slugger Edwin Encarnacion with a severely sprained ankle in the first and facing the possibility of playing their final game at home, the Indians, with some help from a call that went their way, continued a charmed season growing more and more special by the day. “The tendency of this team is to never give up,” Kluber said. “Even when we were down 8-3, we didn’t believe the game was over. We never feel like we’re out of a game.” Jackson drew a leadoff walk in the 13th from Dellin Betances and stole second. Gomes went to a full count before pulling his bouncer just inside the third-base bag, easily scoring Jackson and touching off another one of those wild celebrations inside Progressive Field, where the Indians have been so good while running away with their division and winning 22 straight. As Jackson sprinted home, Cleveland’s players poured out of the dugout and mobbed Gomes at the conclusion of a wild, 5-hour, 8-minute thriller that featured 14 pitchers and a call that may haunt Yankees manager Joe Girardi for months. “We just were supposed to win,” said Indians outfielder Jay Bruce, who hit a game-tying homer in the eighth. “No words, honestly. I’m speechless.” Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam in the sixth to rally Cleveland, which will try for a sweep in Game 3 Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Carlos Carrasco will start for the Indians against Masahiro Tanaka, who will try to extend New York’s season. The Yankees had their chances late, but they stranded the go-ahead run at third in the ninth and 10th — and had pinch-runner Ronald Torreyes picked off second in the 11th by Gomes from the behind the plate. Josh Tomlin, who had been scheduled to start later in the series, pitched two perfect innings for the win as Francona ran out of relievers in a game started by his best pitcher. Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer off Kluber and Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird hit two-run shots for the Yankees, who may have caught a bad break before Lindor’s homer. New York’s Aaron Judge went 0 for 3 and is hitless in seven at-bats in the series with five strikeouts. The Yankees lost consecutive games for the first time since they were swept at home in a three-game series by the Indians from Aug. 28-30. Now, they need to sweep three in a row from Cleveland. Down 8-3, facing New York’s vaunted bullpen, the Indians came back. New York starter CC Sabathia was lifted with one on and one out in the sixth for Chad Green, another one of the Yankees’ flame-throwers who got an out before Gomes doubled. Green came inside and Lonnie Chisenhall was awarded first by plate umpire Dan Iassogna on a hit by pitch. TV replays showed the ball slightly change direction — it appeared to hit the knob of Chisenhall’s bat. Girardi said there wasn’t enough evidence within 30 seconds to justify a challenge. He said the team later saw a slow-motion replay suggesting he should’ve contested the call, but it was too late. “There was nothing that told us he was not hit by the pitch,” Girardi said. New York catcher Gary Sanchez said he heard something, but wasn’t sure what. Sanchez caught the pitch on a fly — it would’ve been strike three if it had been ruled a foul tip — and immediately pointed to the Yankees dugout, indicating they should consider challenging the call. Girardi nodded and held up a finger, asking for time to make a decision. “I didn’t think it hit him, because he never reacted,” Sanchez said through a translator. “He stood there. But it’s just stuff that happens in the game.” Lindor then stepped in and hit a towering shot off the inside of the right-field foul pole to make it 8-7. Before he left the batter’s box, Lindor gave his shot some help. “As soon as I hit it, I knew it had a chance of going out,” Lindor said. “Then after a couple of steps, I was like, ‘No, don’t go foul, please. Just stay fair.’ I started blowing on it a little bit. As soon as it went out, it was just a lot of emotions. As Lindor rounded the bases with Cleveland’s first postseason slam since Jim Thome in 1999, Progressive Field shook the way it did last November when Rajai Davis hit a two-run homer in eighth inning of Game 7 off Aroldis Chapman, then with the Cubs and now closing for the Yankees. Bruce, who has done everything since coming over in an August trade, led off the eigh [...]
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Kyle Hendricks outduels Stephen Strasburg as Cubs top Nats in Game 1
WASHINGTON — Kyle Hendricks goes about things completely differently than Stephen Strasburg does on the mound. The kid from Dartmouth relies on a fastball that on a good day reaches 88 mph — about 10 mph slower than Strasburg’s — and a deceptive changeup. Instead of power, he gets by on precision, guile and smarts. Hendricks outpitched Strasburg in Game 1 of the NL Division Series, giving up only two hits in seven innings to help the Chicago Cubs open defense of their first World Series title in 108 years by beating the Washington Nationals 3-0 on Friday night. “That’s why we call him Professor,” Chicago second baseman Javier Baez said about Hendricks. “He knows what he’s doing.” Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo produced RBI singles with two outs in the sixth inning for the first two hits off an otherwise-dominant Strasburg. Rizzo added a run-scoring double in the eighth off Ryan Madson. Carl Edwards Jr. threw a perfect inning and Wade Davis finished the two-hitter for a save. Unlike No. 1 overall draft pick Strasburg, Hendricks went in the eighth round. Unlike Strasburg, Hendricks has never been an All-Star. Unlike Strasburg, who already has signed a $175 million, seven-year deal that begins next season, Hendricks earned less than $800,000 in 2017. But this was Hendricks’ time to shine. “He was tricking us tonight,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said, “and seems like those kind of guys give us more trouble than guys who throw hard.” The slender righty, who led the NL in ERA last season, gave up a single in the first and another in the second — and that was it for the Nationals. He walked three batters and struck out six. “He knows the scouting report,” said Jon Lester, who starts Game 2 on Saturday for Chicago against fellow lefty Gio Gonzalez. “He knows where guys’ weaknesses are.” Harper — wearing shoes with “Pray for Las Vegas” written on the side following the recent mass shooting in his hometown — was 1 for 4 as he tries to regain his timing after returning last week from a 42-game injury absence. Otherwise, Washington’s elite hitters — Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and Jayson Werth — were a combined 0 for 17 with three walks. “Definitely, your confidence builds,” Hendricks said, “when you start seeing those swings.” The fact that Hendricks approached 90 mph as often as he did was an aberration he and teammates attributed to adrenaline, but one that helped, of course. He also knew he needed to be really good, because of what Strasburg was doing. Strasburg didn’t allow a hit until there were two outs in the sixth. Baez reached on Rendon’s error at third base to start the inning and was sacrificed to second by Hendricks. One out later, Bryant drove in the first run with a single to right-center and went to second when Harper’s throw missed the cutoff man. Bryant, Rizzo said, managed to “get the monkey off the back in the dugout for all of us.” Rizzo followed by singling to right in front of a diving Harper to make it 2-0. With a heavy beard and a lot of sweat on a muggy, 77-degree night, Strasburg dialed up his fastball to 98 mph and mixed in an unhittable changeup. To cheers of “Let’s go, Strasburg!” from many in a sellout crowd of 43,898, he struck out 10 to set a playoff record for the Expos-Nationals franchise. Strasburg wound up allowing just those two unearned runs in seven innings, with three hits and one walk. “You’re aware of it,” Hendricks said about Strasburg. “You know how well he’s throwing on the other side.” Hendricks threw well, too. “It was,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said, “a masterpiece.” SUSPENSION Less than a half-hour before the game, the Nationals announced that assistant hitting coach Jacque Jones has been suspended with pay pending an internal investigation. The team said the suspension is connected to a legal matter. The 42-year-old Jones retired as a player in 2008 after 10 years with four teams. “That was kind of a downer before the game,” Baker said, “because he’s a big part of the team.” UP NEXT Cubs: Lester makes the 20th postseason start of his career, which includes three World Series titles and an NLCS MVP award last year. He is 9-7 with a 2.63 ERA over his postseason career. Nationals: Gonzalez goes in Game 2 instead of two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, who is slated for Game 3 at Wrigley Field on Monday. Scherzer has been dealing with a sore right hamstring. It will be Gonzalez’s first playoff start at home since Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS against St. Louis, when he was staked to a 6-0 lead in a game Washington lost 9-7. [...]
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Bauer power: Indians baffle Aaron Judge, Yanks in ALDS opener
CLEVELAND — Trevor Bauer made Aaron Judge look silly, and made his manager look like a genius. One year after nearly costing the Indians a trip to the World Series, Bauer helped them take the first step back. Named a surprise starter for Game 1, Bauer chopped Judge and New York’s other big bats down to size, and Jay Bruce drove in three runs as Cleveland began chasing its first World Series title in 69 years with a 4-0 win over the Yankees on the Thursday night in the opener of the AL Division Series. Bauer struck out Judge three times , twice getting the MVP candidate looking. He allowed just two hits in 6 2-3 innings before manager Terry Francona, who chose to start the right-hander over ace Corey Kluber, turned to baseball’s best bullpen, using Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen to finish the three-hitter. Allen came in with two on and two outs in the eighth to face Judge, who struck out for the fourth time and the rookie angrily snatched at his bat frustration. Allen then worked the ninth for a save. BOX SCORE: Cleveland 4, New York 0 Judge’s verdict on Bauer was unanimous in New York’s clubhouse. “He was mixing his pitches well, he was using the corners extremely well,” he said. “You’ve got to tip your cap sometimes. We’ve just got to pick ourselves up and get ready for tomorrow.” New York’s now got to face Kluber, an 18-game winner during the regular season. He’ll start Game 2 on Friday against CC Sabathia. Bruce connected for a two-run homer in the fourth off Sonny Gray and added a sacrifice fly in the fifth as the Indians began a journey to try and end the majors’ longest Series title drought. Gregory Shamus, Getty ImagesRoberto Perez #55, Francisco Lindor #12, Cody Allen #37 and Jose Ramirez #11 of the Cleveland Indians celebrate their teams victory over the New York Yankees in game one of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field on Oct. 5, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. Eyebrows were raised when Francona picked Bauer instead of Kluber, and the eccentric right-hander, perhaps best known for slicing a pinkie open while repairing a drone during last year’s postseason and bleeding all over the mound in Toronto, delivered a performance that started October just right for the Indians. “The mindset was to go out there like a closer in the first inning and put up a scoreless inning at all costs,” Bauer said. “And then if I was still in the game, do it again in the second inning and the third and on until I was taken out of the game. So no-hitter, 10-hitter, or whatever, that was the mindset. I never really strayed from that.” Coming off their win over Minnesota in the wild-card game Tuesday, when Judge homered in his playoff debut, the Yankees came in with momentum. Bauer stopped the Bronx Bombers cold. He struck out eight and took a no-hitter into the sixth before Aaron Hicks doubled with one out. It was the longest no-hit bid by a Cleveland pitcher in the postseason, bettering Hall of Famers Bob Feller (1948) and Early Wynn (1954), who both went four innings. Bauer improved to 3-0 this season against the Yankees. “His curveball was really good,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s as good as we’ve seen it, and he’s been pitching better. You look at his second half, and he had better command. We didn’t get many free base runners, which we have in the past off of him, and he was really good.” Taking the mound to his usual thundering warm-up music, “The Pursuit of Vikings,” an intimidating song by Swedish metal band Amon Amarth, Bauer didn’t mess around. Related ArticlesOctober 5, 2017 Jose Altuve hit 3 homers, Astros beat Red Sox in ALDS opener October 5, 2017 Diamondbacks deny using electronic device to steal signs vs. Rockies October 3, 2017 Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge, bullpen rally wild-card Yanks past Twins October 3, 2017 Rockies confident Jon Gray can take playoff step vs. Diamondbacks October 3, 2017 Jacoby Ellsbury to start at DH for Yankees over Chase Headley, Matt Holliday in wild-card game He struck out Judge in the first watching a curveball. Bauer, who is 11-1 in his last 14 starts, struck out Judge again in the fourth, but the All-Star reached on a wild pitch. Bauer, though, regrouped by getting Gary Sanchez to bounce into a double play before he freezing Didi Gregorius for his sixth strikeout. Bauer got help from All-Star-second baseman-turned-center fielder Jason Kipnis, who made a diving catch to rob Chase Headley in the third. As Kipnis slowly got to his feet, Bauer raised both arms above his head, pumped his fist and screamed to salute his teammate. Bruce gave the Indians a 3-0 lead in the fourth with a towering homer to right. After Edwin Encarnacion walked, Gray came i [...]
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Diamondbacks’ bullpen, highlighted by Robbie Ray, holds off Rockies’ comeback attempt
On multiple occasions, it seemed the Rockies’ offense had done its job in initiating a comeback during their wild-card bout against Arizona on Wednesday night. First, five hits in the top of the fourth inning turned an early 6-0 Arizona lead into a competitive, 6-4 game as Colorado chased Arizona starter Zack Greinke. Then, in the eighth inning, back-to-back homers by Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story morphed an 8-5 Arizona lead into an 8-7 thriller worthy of the Rocktober label. Each time the Rockies made a push, however, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen — ranked second in the National League in ERA (3.66) and third in WHIP (1.27) during the regular season — managed to somehow keep the lead, with southpaw Robbie Ray’s critical midgame innings giving the rest of the Arizona relievers just enough breathing room in the 11-8 victory. Ray used his slider and fastball to hold the tide and show why he led the National League in strikeout rate this season with 12.11 strikeouts per nine innings. He had three strikeouts before turning the game over to his bullpen mates with a 6-4 lead. “I’m taking the ball whenever they ask me to,” Ray said. “If it’s a start, that’s great, or I’ll come out of the bullpen. Tonight was my first time coming out of the bullpen since 2014. “The bullpen just went about their business and stayed locked in from the first pitch they were called upon. We knew going into this that anything can happen, especially after watching (the AL wild card), so we didn’t take a pitch off. Everything was working tonight. I felt like where ever I threw the ball, and whatever I threw, I could get an out with it.” After Ray left, former Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa — the winningest pitcher in Colorado history — made an appearance, earning the second out of the seventh but allowing the fifth Colorado run to score on Charlie Blackmon’s bunt. Archie Bradley came on to get DJ LaMahieu to ground out. Bradley then stepped to the plate in the bottom of the frame and roped a two-run triple to make it 8-5. As he stood on third, Bradley ripped off his helmet and screamed to the sea of red, a rare pitcher’s hitting feat that appeared to be the final dagger in the desert duel. Related ArticlesOctober 4, 2017 PHOTOS: Rockies at Diamondbacks in NL wild-card game, Oct. 4, 2017 October 4, 2017 Where to watch Rockies vs. Diamondbacks: Denver bars offering playoff specials October 3, 2017 How you could get to Phoenix to see the Rockies vs. Diamondbacks for under $500 October 1, 2017 Rockies hitters vs Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks hitters vs Rockies pitcher Jon Gray September 29, 2017 PHOTOS: Rockies best the Dodgers 9-1 September 29, 2017 The triple appeared to tire him. “I wish I had pulled up at second for a double,” he said. That’s because he got tagged for back-to-back home runs by Arenado and Story that had the Chase Field crowd feeling nervous. All of a sudden, the Rockies were in a one-run game and nearing an equalizing blow following Pat Valaika’s two-out double. “After the first one, I was like, OK, let’s settle back down,” Bradley said. “Then after the next one, it was only a one-run game, but I found a way to channel my emotions and really calm down.” Again, the Arizona bullpen stabilized, as Bradley got Lucroy to fly out to right to end the inning. And, after adding three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, Arizona closer Fernando Rodney allowed a run on two hits, but eventually shut the door on the Rockies’ dreams in the ninth. “Every time we needed an insurance run or a run to get things going again, guys got on base and guys hit people in,” Bradley said. [...]
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