Cubs stay alive, Yankees poised to reach World Series
The Chicago Cubs lived to fight another day in the MLB playoffs, while the New York Yankees moved closer to the World Series.
Reigning MLB World Series champions the Chicago Cubs staved off elimination with a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
Entering the game down 3-0 in the National League Championship Series, the Cubs had to apply some magic from last year's World Series-winning run. The offence perked up just enough to get that done in game four.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon was ejected for the second time this series after a ruling was overturned. Dodgers' Curtis Granderson was originally called for a third strike, but umpires reversed the unchallengeable play.
Maddon then stormed onto the field, and was tossed for his actions at Wrigley Field.
The New York Yankees are on the cusp of a World Series after shutting out the Houston Astros 5-0 in game five of the American League Championship Series.
Masahiro Tanaka became just theÂ thirdÂ Yankees pitcher to complete multiple seven-inning scoreless starts in the same postseason when he blanked the Astros in seven innings with eight strikeouts on Wednesday.
Normally reserved, Tanaka showed multiple displays of exuberant emotion while cruising through Houston's slumping line-up as the Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
BAEZ HEARD MADDON'S MESSAGE
Maddon pleaded with his hitters to produce some runs after Tuesday night's defeat. Javier Baez must have heard him because he hit two solo home runs to help keep the Cubs' fading World Series hopes alive.
Baez, one of the most notorious free swingers in MLB, connected on an Alex Wood offering in the second inning, shortly after Willson Contreras went deep. Baez trotted around the bases again in the fifth inningÂ after hitting hisÂ second home runÂ off Wood. The Cubs still need Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant to get going, but this was a good start.
JUDGE AND SANCHEZ AREÂ BACK
All-Star Aaron Judge went one for three with a run, RBI and a walk. He had just one hit against the Cleveland Indians, but he has rediscovered his form of late in the ALCS. Judge is an AL MVP contender after bashing 52 home runs during the regular season. He has been more patient this series, which has given him better pitches to hit.Â
Gary Sanchez went two for four with a towering home run in the seventh inning. It was his second hit of the night and just his third of the series. The 24-year-old catcher played a key role in the AL wildcard game and the AL Division Series, but he was struggling to make contact against the Astros.
ARRIETA CAN STILL BE AN ACE
The 2015 NL Cy Young award winner has steadily declined since his near-perfect form two seasons ago, but he can still deliver in the clutch. Jake Arrieta proved reliable when Maddon needed him most on Wednesday, allowing just one run with nine strikeouts in 6.6 innings.Â
Arrieta did have five more walks, proving his command is sporadic, but he has allowed just one earned run in 10.6 innings this postseason.
The Cubs needed hits and runs and they got them from Baez.
DODGERS AT CUBS, ASTROS RETURN TO HOUSTON
The Dodgers will try again to clinch a World Series berth on Thursday. Chicago held on to a slender lead to force game five, but Los Angeles will likely send ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound to try and take care of business this time around.
Heading back to Houston, the Astros will try to stave off elimination on Thursday. Verlander, who has not lost in an Astros uniform, will try to lead his team in the right direction by forcing a decisive game seven.