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Chacin up to task, gives Crew 2-1 NLCS lead

Jeffress wobbles in ninth before wrapping up five-hit shutout
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

LOS ANGELES -- When the Brewers last played a baseball game at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers put up a football score. They set a stadium record with 21 runs on Aug. 2, largely at Jhoulys Chacin's expense in a game so lopsided that Milwaukee sent not one but two position players to the mound.

"I know people might talk a lot about that," Chacin said with a shrug before taking the mound Monday with much higher stakes.

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LOS ANGELES -- When the Brewers last played a baseball game at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers put up a football score. They set a stadium record with 21 runs on Aug. 2, largely at Jhoulys Chacin's expense in a game so lopsided that Milwaukee sent not one but two position players to the mound.

"I know people might talk a lot about that," Chacin said with a shrug before taking the mound Monday with much higher stakes.

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NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Tonight, 9:09 p.m. ET/8:09 CT on FS1

This time, the Brewers' steadiest starting pitcher all season gave the people something else to talk about -- and so did manager Craig Counsell, who sent Jeremy Jeffress back to the mound to acquire the final three outs with another wobbly postseason performance. Chacin delivered a shutout into the sixth inning and Jeffress escaped a ninth-inning scare to finish it -- a 4-0 win that put Milwaukee back on top in the National League Championship Series, two games to one.

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

"I've been ready for this for almost 10 years," said Chacin, the 30-year-old onetime journeyman who parlayed a solid season in San Diego into a two-year deal with the Brewers, then became their de facto ace. "Now I am just enjoying this part of my career, enjoying pitching in the playoffs, and with a really good team. And hopefully I get a chance to be in the World Series."

Don't look now, but a team that allegedly doesn't have enough starting pitching is two victories shy of the World Series -- in no small part because of strong starting pitching. Including Chacin's 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Dodgers, Milwaukee's starters -- "initial out-getters" is more accurate, since Counsell has blurred the lines of pitching roles for going on a month now -- have a 0.35 ERA through six postseason games.

The offense one again came from all corners of the lineup. Ryan Braun doubled home a run in the first inning, Travis Shaw smashed a triple into the wind and scored on a wild pitch in the sixth and surprise October slugger Orlando Arcia hit a fly ball in the seventh that rode that wind to the right-field seats for a two-run home run, his third long ball of the postseason.

Meanwhile, Chacin teamed with Corey Knebel, Joakim Soria, Josh Hader and Jeffress on a five-hit shutout in which none of the relievers threw more than 21 pitches. That sets up well for the next two games in as many days.

The effort also handed the Dodgers their first shutout at home in the postseason since Game 1 of the 1983 NLCS against the Phillies.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Chacin, 'pen pitch Brewers to shutout win

"Our guys that we're giving the ball to at the start of the game, they're doing a heck of a job, man," said Counsell. "They're setting the tone, really, for games. They're putting us in a very advantageous position to use our guys in the bullpen. And that's going to lead to wins."

Three of the Brewers' five wins in these playoffs have been shutouts, though this one didn't come easily. Jeffress, who entered the night with a 7.71 ERA in the postseason, surrendered a leadoff single to Dodgers Game 2 hero Justin Turner to open the ninth before Manny Machado doubled and Yasiel Puig walked one out later.

But Jeffress escaped, striking out struggling Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal and pinch-hitter Brian Dozier to push the Brewers within two victories of the World Series.

"I've said it all year: I strive for those moments," Jeffress said. "That's like an extra adrenaline rush. I didn't really want it to get like that, but when those times come, you just have to stay within yourself and continue to be the pitcher you are."

Jeffress closes out LA, rewards Crew's faith

Video: NLCS Gm3: Jeffress K's Dozier to seal Game 3 win

In the history of best-of-seven series with the 2-3-2 format, teams that win Game 3 on the road to grab a 2-1 advantage have gone on to take the series 27 of 36 times (75 percent).

But that history lesson was just the start of why Game 3 had the potential to pivot the series. After Milwaukee's stout bullpen squandered a three-run lead with nine outs to go in Game 2, the Brewers sent Chacin to the mound opposite talented Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler. They were eager to take a game ahead of a possible bullpen day started by Gio Gonzalez in Game 4, with left-hander Wade Miley scheduled to pitch on short rest in Game 5.

Crew tabs Miley for Game 5; Gio for Game 4

That left a lot on Chacin's shoulders, and he carried the load. With his sensational slider providing the punchout pitch for five of his six strikeouts, the 30-year-old right-hander blanked L.A. on three hits, yielding to the bullpen with one out in the sixth after third baseman Mike Moustakas' throwing error put a runner in scoring position with less than two outs for the second straight inning.

The bullpen took it from there.

"It doesn't matter who is the hero, if it's going to be Orlando or Braun or the bullpen," Chacin said. "It doesn't matter who does the job; if we do the job and win the game, that's all that matters."

Video: NLCS Gm3: Counsell on trusting Jeffress in the 9th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Orlando magic: Arcia has three home runs in the Brewers' last 28 innings, matching his total from 348 at-bats during a regular season in which he was twice demoted to the Minor Leagues to work on his hitting. He joined Roberto Perez (2016) and Willie Randolph (1981) as the only players in history to follow a regular season of three or fewer home runs with three or more in the playoffs.

"Every player is going to have their ups and downs, and this year was definitely a lot of downs for me, and things weren't going my way so they sent me down," Arcia said. "I was able to work on stuff, recognize pitches, and especially breaking balls. And now I do my adjustments and things have been working better. Now we're up here in the playoffs."

Arcia boosts Crew with 3rd postseason HR

Video: NLCS Gm3: Arcia cranks 2-run HR in 7th on FS1

Caught looking: The Dodgers' best chance for a big inning against Chacin came in the second, when Puig's double put runners at second and third with one out for Grandal, who struck out on an elevated four-seam fastball. Chacin's emotional reaction showed the importance of that out; it allowed him to intentionally walk Enrique Hernandez to get to Buehler in the nine-hole. The Dodgers' pitcher fouled off one two-strike slider and looked at another just below the zone, but Chacin threw the pitch again and got the called third strike he was seeking.

Because of Chacin's ability to alter the shape and velocity of his slider, veteran catcher Erik Kratz isn't exactly sure what he's going to get when he calls for it.

"You call it, and he's got about four," Kratz said with a laugh.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Chacin K's a pair to escape huge jam in 2nd

Stranded: Chacin stranded a runner at second base with a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning, then combined with reliever Knebel to do it again with a 2-0 lead in the sixth after Moustakas' throwing error. Naturally, the very next ball in play was a 110.5-mph grounder right at the third baseman Moustakas, who converted this time. Knebel then fired a 97-mph fastball past Cody Bellinger to end the inning.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Knebel K's Dodgers with 4 high heaters

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Braun, the Los Angeles native and the only player remaining from Milwaukee's last postseason team in 2011, provided an early Brewers lead when he followed Christian Yelich's walk with a double to left field that left Braun's bat at 112.9 mph, according to Statcast™, matching the second-highest exit velocity for any of his base hits in 2018. Yelich moved fast, too, posting an elite 30 feet per second sprint speed while going first to home in 9.87 seconds for a 1-0 advantage.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Yelich sprints home on Braun's double

HE SAID IT
"In that sixth inning, we're there on the mound together, with [Chacin's] years bouncing around from team to team, got a nice contract this offseason; and somehow I come from Scranton, Pa., to be on the mound with him. I have so many stories like that. We're so intertwined. … In this moment, you don't sit back and think about it, but in November and December when it's snowing and there's football on, that's when you think about that kind of stuff. If you don't I think you're selling yourself short in the experience." -- Kratz, reflecting on the winding road he and Chacin took to the 2018 Brewers

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Brewers benefited from the "Chase Utley" slide rule to escape a budding Dodgers rally in the fourth. Bellinger grounded into a 3-6 force play with no outs, with Machado out at second. But the Brewers challenged, arguing that Machado had violated the slide rule. Machado raised his arm as he slid into Brewers shortstop Arcia, whose throw to first was too late for a double play. Machado also slid to the left of the bag and didn't maintain contact, which a runner must attempt to do by rule. The Brewers' hunch paid off. The replay official in New York determined that Machado did not engage in a bona fide slide and impeded Arcia with his arm. It resulted in a double play. A groundout by Puig to a diving Moustakas ended the inning one batter later.

It was the second time the Brewers questioned a Machado slide into Arcia.

"On the first one, I didn't think there was anything wrong. On the second one, definitely felt a little more," Arcia said. "He grabbed my knee towards the end, and that's when I turned around and said something to the umpire."

Video: NLCS Gm3: Brewers turn double play on overturned call

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jhoulys Chacin, Jeremy Jeffress

Arcia boosts Brewers with 3rd postseason HR

Shortstop's bat thriving after midseason adjustment at Triple-A
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

LOS ANGELES -- A little more than three months ago, Orlando Arcia's career sat at a crossroads. Fresh off something of a breakout sophomore campaign, Arcia had spent the spring watching his batting average sink below the Mendoza Line. His plate discipline plummeted. His confidence sagged.

Then one day Arcia woke up in Colorado Springs, demoted for the second time in six weeks. The glove that buoyed him to the big leagues was no longer enough to keep him there, the Brewers willing to brave the summer without their starting shortstop if that was what it took. There at Triple-A, Arcia resolved to turn around a season he characterized Monday as filled with "definitely a lot of downs."

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LOS ANGELES -- A little more than three months ago, Orlando Arcia's career sat at a crossroads. Fresh off something of a breakout sophomore campaign, Arcia had spent the spring watching his batting average sink below the Mendoza Line. His plate discipline plummeted. His confidence sagged.

Then one day Arcia woke up in Colorado Springs, demoted for the second time in six weeks. The glove that buoyed him to the big leagues was no longer enough to keep him there, the Brewers willing to brave the summer without their starting shortstop if that was what it took. There at Triple-A, Arcia resolved to turn around a season he characterized Monday as filled with "definitely a lot of downs."

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NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Tonight, 9:09 p.m. ET/8:09 CT on FS1

"I was able to work on stuff, recognize pitches, and especially breaking balls," Arcia said. "And now I do my adjustments and things have been working better, and now we're here."

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

The "here" in question is the postseason, where the payoffs have been plain to see. There has been perhaps no bigger October surprise than Arcia, who continued to emerge as an unlikely force for Milwaukee in its 4-0 win over the Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.

By slicing a two-run homer over the short right-field porch off Walker Buehler in the seventh, the glove-first shortstop matched his home run total from the regular season, when he ranked as one of the least productive hitters in baseball by a variety of measures.

Dress for success with Brewers gear for NLCS

The home run marked Arcia's third this postseason, in 20 plate appearances. That pulls him into a tie with Manny Machado, Aaron Judge and George Springer for the most in baseball.

This season, Arcia hit three home runs in 366 plate appearances. The .307 slugging percentage that resulted would've ranked him next-to-last in baseball had he the at-bats to qualify, ahead of only the Orioles' Chris Davis.

"The home runs are probably surprising. The fact that he's playing at a really high level throughout the playoffs, that's not surprising," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Orlando has always been a guy that you want to put a moment on him, put pressure on him. Put a big moment on him. Put the spotlight on him."

That's precisely what the Brewers did when they optioned Arcia, who hit 15 home runs while showing flashes of elite defense in 2017, in a surprise move at the end of May. The second option, on July 1, was less shocking. Arcia hit just .197 over the season's first three months, and finished June without notching an extra-base hit in his last 27 games. It was with this large sample in mind that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said late Monday, when defending his decision to leave Buehler in for an extra inning, "I'll take Walker against Arcia any day."

Video: NLCS Gm3: Arcia discusses his big home run in win

But by the time Arcia got his third look at Buehler, the adjustments he'd made at Triple-A manifested in real time. He recognized fastball -- the fifth and last Buehler showed him -- early. His front foot planted in proper time. That allowed his hands to fire quickly when Buehler's pitch buzzed the top of the zone at 96.9 mph. Arcia beat it to the spot.

"I thought it was a decent pitch," Roberts said.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Arcia smacks 2-run homer off Buehler in 7th

Those were the areas -- pitch recognition, timing and the mechanics that meld the two -- Arcia was sent to Colorado Springs with an imperative to improve. He hit .341 over 22 games at Triple-A, then returned to hit .309 over his final 47 games. Two weeks later, he has a place in Brewers history. Arcia is now tied with Paul Molitor and Ted Simmons for the second most postseason home runs in club history. Prince Fielder owns the record, with four.

"He's probably disappointed in the season he had, but he can't be disappointed about what he's doing right now," said Brewers catcher Erik Kratz, who has teamed with Arcia to power Milwaukee's offense from the bottom of the order this October. "He's swinging the bat so well. If people are saying it's a surprise, I don't think they were watching the season he had last year. It's in there. Maybe water levels out. Maybe he's coming back to level."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

Milwaukee Brewers, Orlando Arcia

Red Sox-Astros G3: Lineups, matchups, FAQs

MLB.com

BOSTON -- After the Red Sox earned a home split with a crucial 7-5 win over the Astros in Game 2 on Sunday night at Fenway Park, the stage is set for the type of classic American League Championship Series many expected from the teams that finished the regular season with the top two records in the Major Leagues.

"At this point, we might as well just treat it as a five-game set, and we're starting on the road," said Boston righty Rick Porcello. "We've got to do what we did in New York and come ready to play Game 1 and go from there."

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BOSTON -- After the Red Sox earned a home split with a crucial 7-5 win over the Astros in Game 2 on Sunday night at Fenway Park, the stage is set for the type of classic American League Championship Series many expected from the teams that finished the regular season with the top two records in the Major Leagues.

"At this point, we might as well just treat it as a five-game set, and we're starting on the road," said Boston righty Rick Porcello. "We've got to do what we did in New York and come ready to play Game 1 and go from there."

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ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 3: Today, 5:09 p.m. ET/4:09 CT on TBS

Meanwhile, when the series continues on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park, the defending World Series-champion Astros will try to get rolling again after the Sox handed them their first loss of the postseason.

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

What might the starting lineups look like?
Red Sox: Mookie Betts (two doubles, two runs) got going in Game 2, and that's always a big thing. As Betts goes, so go the Red Sox. If J.D. Martinez (0-for-7 in the series) can get going in Houston, the Astros will truly feel the brunt of Boston's high-powered attack. Eduardo Nunez will be back in the lineup with lefty Dallas Keuchel pitching for Houston.

1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
3. Steve Pearce, 1B
4. J.D. Martinez, DH
5. Xander Bogaerts, SS
6. Ian Kinsler, 2B
7. Eduardo Nunez, 3B
8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
9. Christian Vazquez, C

Astros: Astros manager AJ Hinch said he's considering starting Jose Altuve at designated hitter for Game 3 after the 2017 AL MVP banged his bum right knee in Game 2 and was limping afterwards. If Hinch does make that change, expect Marwin Gonzalez to play second base and Tony Kemp to start in left field. Also, veteran catcher Brian McCann will start and catch Keuchel like he did in Game 3 of the ALDS.

1. George Springer, CF
2. Jose Altuve, DH
3. Alex Bregman, 3B
4. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
5. Marwin Gonzalez, 2B
6. Josh Reddick, RF
7. Carlos Correa, SS
8. Brian McCann, C
9. Tony Kemp, LF

Who are the starting pitchers?
Red Sox: Eovaldi gets the ball in Game 3, just as he did at Yankee Stadium in the ALDS. The Red Sox are hoping for a similar performance, as Eovaldi sparkled (seven innings, five hits, one run, no walks, five K's) en route to victory in his postseason debut. He fired seven pitches at 100 mph or more in that one, the most by a traditional starting pitcher in any MLB game this season.

Astros: Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, gets the nod. The lefty continued his career-long playoff success with a solid start in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Indians, allowing two runs in five innings before the Astros added 10 late runs to secure a sweep. He has a 3.28 ERA in nine postseason outings and a 7.46 ERA in four career starts against the Red Sox. Keuchel held Boston to one run in 5 2/3 innings in Game 2 of the 2017 ALDS.

Video: Must C Conclusion: Red Sox hold on, knot ALCS at 1

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Red Sox: The Red Sox are starting to gain confidence in their postseason bullpen. Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly have all had strong results of late. Closer Craig Kimbrel, who has given up at least one run in all three of his outings this October, is trying to find his groove. If Boston needs length in Game 3, lefty Eduardo Rodriguez can provide it.

Astros: Houston's bullpen will be about as rested as it could be, considering relievers threw only two innings in Game 2 on Sunday ahead of Monday's off-day. Closer Roberto Osuna has yet to pitch in this series, though he did warm up in Game 1 before the Astros blew it open in the ninth inning.

Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Red Sox: None.

Astros: None.

Any injuries of note?
Red Sox: First baseman Mitch Moreland has reached base in both of his plate appearances as a pinch-hitter and is getting closer to making his first start since suffering a right hamstring injury in Game 2 of the ALDS. With a lefty going for the Astros in Game 3, Moreland likely won't start until Game 4.

Astros: Gonzalez hurt his back and neck when he crashed into the Green Monster in Game 2, but he said he would be fine for Game 3.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Betts drills an RBI double in the 8th

Who is hot and who is not?
Red Sox: After his two-hit performance in Game 2, Betts could be poised to take over. When he is hot, the Red Sox are a different team. … Devers is earning more playing time. The 21-year-old is hitting .360 (9-for-25) since Sept. 25. … Nunez is hitting .143 in the postseason, and Boston could use some production from him against lefties.

Astros: Bregman doesn't have a hit in the ALCS (0-for-3), but he has drawn six walks and been hit by a pitch, giving him a .700 on-base percentage. … Altuve is 1-for-8 in this series, and Reddick (1-for-7), White (0-for-5), Gurriel (2-for-9) and Gonzalez (1-for-8 with a homer) have also scuffled. … Springer (3-for-8) leads the Astros in hits and RBIs (four) in the ALCS. He has a hit in 11 consecutive playoff games, which is a club record. The MLB record is 17, shared by Derek Jeter (1998-99), Hank Bauer (1956-58) and Manny Ramirez (2003-04).

Video: Springer hits safely in 11 straight postseason games

Anything else fans might want to know?
• This is the 16th time the Red Sox have been tied with their opponent after the first two games of a postseason series. Boston is 9-6 in those series, winning the past three.

• This is the eighth time the Astros have been tied with their opponent after the first two games of a postseason series. Houston is 2-5 in those series.

• Since the start of last year's postseason, the Astros are 10-1 at Minute Maid Park.

• Boston started the 2017 ALDS by getting routed in the first two games in Houston. The Astros won that best-of-five series in four games.

• Houston has homered in an MLB-record 14 consecutive postseason games.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros

Grandal benched for G4 after struggles in G3

Dodgers catcher could not block WP in 6th, commits PB in 8th
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

LOS ANGELES -- Dave Roberts wasted no time late Monday night. Yasmani Grandal is back on the bench for Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Tuesday, following another rough performance behind the plate in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.

Dodgers fans expressed their frustrations, booing Grandal after he could not block a wild pitch in the sixth inning that allowed the Brewers' second run in a 4-0 victory that gave Milwaukee a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. That run was set up by another defensive misplay when center fielder Cody Bellinger appeared to misread Travis Shaw's deep drive, allowing Shaw to motor all the way to third with a triple.

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LOS ANGELES -- Dave Roberts wasted no time late Monday night. Yasmani Grandal is back on the bench for Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Tuesday, following another rough performance behind the plate in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.

Dodgers fans expressed their frustrations, booing Grandal after he could not block a wild pitch in the sixth inning that allowed the Brewers' second run in a 4-0 victory that gave Milwaukee a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. That run was set up by another defensive misplay when center fielder Cody Bellinger appeared to misread Travis Shaw's deep drive, allowing Shaw to motor all the way to third with a triple.

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NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Tonight, 9:09 p.m. ET/6:09 p.m. PT on FS1

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

Grandal allowed a passed ball in the eighth inning, too. He allowed two passed balls and committed two errors in a one-run loss in Game 1 at Miller Park.

"I think it's driving you guys more nuts than me," Grandal said. "I blocked eight balls in the dirt today. I mean, the one ball that kicks off the plate, we had a man on third, it still hits me in a good spot. It just happened to be one of those plays where as the ball is coming down, it's picking up speed and it hits the back of the plate, and picks up even more speed. I think any baseball person understands what it is to be able to block a ball like that. The way I see it is overall, I was pretty good. I don't really hear the noise outside. I value my opinion way over everybody else. That's what keeps me sane."

Dodgers teammate Enrique Hernandez took more offense to the boos than Grandal.

"It sucks," he said. "Obviously as a teammate, as a competitor, you know that he's doing everything he can. He's not trying to have a hard time behind home plate or anything. But it sucks that there's nothing going on in the stands since the first inning when [Ryan Braun] hit that double, the stadium kind of went quiet for the rest of the evening. It sucks that they got loud just to show off Yasmani. It's a shame. He's trying his best.

"You know, it's the playoffs, it's the big leagues, if they think that they can do it, go ahead. Put on your gear and go catch 99 [mph] with breaking balls that have a lot of movement. He's been one of the best catchers in the game for a while now. He's having a little bit of a rough patch, which we all as humans, as baseball players go through. It's just bad timing."

Shaw's triple came with two out and none on in the sixth to set up the wild pitch. Bellinger ran 94 feet in pursuit, but he slowed as he approached the warning track. He then suddenly sped up and slammed into the wall.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Shaw smacks 2-out triple off wall in 6th

Bellinger's contact with the wall and the ball's ricochet helped Shaw to his first triple since April 11, 2017.

"Yeah, he hit it and I kind of lost it for a quick second, and then picked it right back up," Bellinger said. "I don't know. I just missed it."

It would have been an extremely tough ball for Bellinger to catch, but it seems likely that if he'd had a better read, he might have been able to hold Shaw to a double. And had Shaw been on second, he would not have scored on the ensuing at-bat.

Video: Must C Crucial: Shaw triples, scores on wild pitch

Instead, two pitches later, Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler spiked a 1-0 curveball to Jesus Aguilar. Grandal could not block it. He said after Game 1 that he was flat-footed behind the plate. He said that was not the issue on Monday.

"The curveball was in front of me," he said. "I have no problems."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Machado slide-rule violation results in DP

Bellinger ruled out at 1st after Brewers' successful challenge
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

LOS ANGELES -- The Brewers benefited from the "Chase Utley" slide rule in the Dodgers' 4-0 loss in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Monday.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Tonight, 9:09 p.m. ET/6:09 PT on FS1

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LOS ANGELES -- The Brewers benefited from the "Chase Utley" slide rule in the Dodgers' 4-0 loss in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Monday.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Tonight, 9:09 p.m. ET/6:09 PT on FS1

View Full Game Coverage

Cody Bellinger grounded into a 3-6 force play with no outs in the fourth, with Manny Machado out at second. But the Brewers immediately challenged, arguing that Machado had violated the slide rule into second base. Machado raised his arm as he slid into Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia. He also slid to the left of the bag.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Roberts on Machado's controversial slides

The Brewers' hunch paid off. The replay official in New York determined that Machado failed to engage in a proper slide and impeded Arcia with his arm.

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

"We talk about it a lot when you go into second base that you have to really make an attempt to hold on to the bag or not try to -- it's a safe play, as far as trying to protect the infielder," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "And so Manny knows that. We talk about it all the time. And they looked at the review and they got it right. Because you do have to make a very good effort to hold on to the bag, and apparently we didn't."

It resulted in a double play, and a groundout by Yasiel Puig ended the inning one batter later. Bellinger probably would have beaten the throw from Arcia, even if Machado had not done anything. He reached first base in just 4.17 seconds, showing elite sprint speed (30.3 ft/sec).

"I don't even know the rule," Bellinger said. "I thought I was going to be safe, whether he slid into the base or not. I definitely didn't see it, but I definitely would have been safe."

But the Brewers had their eye on Machado. They took issue with his slide on a fielder's choice by Bellinger in the second inning, too. They did not challenge that play.

"[Umpire Jim Wolf] said Orlando [Arcia] didn't try to make a throw on that [first] play, and that is a factor in whether they will consider an illegal slide if the guy doesn't attempt to finish the double play," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Well, the next time he did try to complete it. And we made a throw to first. And Machado was past the bag on the slide, and so we checked it immediately. And our guys in the replay room did a nice job being aggressive with the call."

Video: NLCS Gm3: Machado gets arm up on slide into secon

Todd Zolecki has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Machado

Jeffress closes out LA, rewards Crew's faith

Right-hander escapes jam in 9th to seal Game 3 victory
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't the sort of dominant inning that Jeremy Jeffress delivered time after time during the regular season. Far from it. But when the zero appeared on the Dodger Stadium scoreboard, it was progress.

Called upon again in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series in spite of a series of shaky postseason performances, Jeffress rewarded the Brewers' vote of confidence by closing out a 4-0 win over the Dodgers on Monday night.

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LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't the sort of dominant inning that Jeremy Jeffress delivered time after time during the regular season. Far from it. But when the zero appeared on the Dodger Stadium scoreboard, it was progress.

Called upon again in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series in spite of a series of shaky postseason performances, Jeffress rewarded the Brewers' vote of confidence by closing out a 4-0 win over the Dodgers on Monday night.

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NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 4: Tonight, 9:09 p.m. ET/8:09 p.m. CT on FS1

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

It did not come easy. Justin Turner, who was the hero of Game 2 for the Dodgers, started the inning with a ground-ball single up the middle. Los Angeles put two men in scoring position with none out, then loaded the bases with one out. But Jeffress escaped, striking out Yasmani Grandal and Brian Dozier to close a victory that gave Milwaukee a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"He's faced plenty of situations like that," said Corey Knebel, the former Brewers closer who navigated trouble of his own this season only to emerge better on the other side. "He's done it before, and everyone knew he could do it. He didn't feel the pressure at all, and he dominated at the end there."

Gear up for the NLCS

Said Josh Hader: "He's been the guy every time, all year. We knew we could count on him. He came out huge."

The significance was not lost on Jeffress.

"Very important," he said. "It was a little shaky in the beginning, but I just stuck to my game plan. I went right at them, like I always do, and the results were good."

That has not been the case for the postseason so far for Jeffress, who held opponents to a .182 average with a 1.29 ERA in a team-high 73 appearances while making the NL All-Star team in the regular season, only to allow 11 hits with a 7.71 ERA while appearing in each of Milwaukee's first five postseason games. Of the 11 runs scored by opponents in the postseason, eight have scored with Jeffress on the mound.

That included two big runs on Saturday in Game 2 of the NLCS, when Jeffress surrendered a go-ahead home run to Turner in the Brewers' 4-3 loss, then he made postgame news by referring to opponents as "lucky." The next day, Jeffress clarified that he did not mean to lump Turner's homer in that group, but the Dodger Stadium organist nonetheless delivered a jab when he played "Lucky Man" by The Verve as Turner prepared to bat against Jeffress to open the bottom of the ninth inning on Monday.

Well, I'm a lucky man
With fire in my hands

Turner started things with a sharp single over second base, and Manny Machado followed with a double that put runners at second and third with none out. Jeffress, topping out at 96.7 mph, conjured an escape, getting Cody Bellinger to pop up to shortstop before a walk to Yasiel Puig loaded the bases and brought the potential tying run to the plate for Grandal, and then Dozier.

Both struck out, Grandal swinging at a knuckle curve and Dozier looking at a fastball on the outside corner that followed three straight curves.

"I've said it all year: I strive for those moments," Jeffress said. "That's like an extra adrenaline rush. I didn't really want it to get like that, but when those times come, you just have to stay within yourself and continue to be the pitcher you are."

Video: NLCS Gm3: Counsell on trusting Jeffress in the 9th

Jeffress said he was "very grateful" for the vote of confidence from manager Craig Counsell, who said in the wake of Game 2's letdown that for the Brewers to get to where they want to go -- the World Series -- Jeffress will have to play a significant role.

On Monday, Counsell backed those words with bold action. He could have stuck with Hader, who had thrown just eight pitches while striking out David Freese and Matt Kemp to end the eighth inning.

"That's the debate, you know?" Counsell said. "We've got Jeremy Jeffress, who has been an All-Star this year and pitched huge, huge moments for us during the season. We've got a four-run lead. I trust him to get those outs. The ninth inning was entertaining -- but they didn't score."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jeremy Jeffress

Sale out of hospital, returns to Sox on Tuesday

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

HOUSTON -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale was released from Massachusetts General Hospital and will rejoin the team in Houston for the American League Championship Series on Tuesday.

Sale was admitted to the hospital on Sunday because of a stomach illness. After a battery of tests, it was determined that Sale doesn't have any serious health issues.

View Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale was released from Massachusetts General Hospital and will rejoin the team in Houston for the American League Championship Series on Tuesday.

Sale was admitted to the hospital on Sunday because of a stomach illness. After a battery of tests, it was determined that Sale doesn't have any serious health issues.

View Full Game Coverage

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 3: Today, 5:09 p.m. ET on TBS

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said the club will wait until Sale is back with the team to make a definitive determination on when he will pitch again.

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

Before becoming ill following his start in Saturday night's Game 1, Sale was scheduled to pitch next in Game 5 on Thursday.

"We need him to get here first and then see how he feels," said Cora. "It's more than the Red Sox; it's about the individual. So everything I heard, he should be fine and it's a matter of him showing up and we'll talk to him and see how he feels physically and go from there."

Sale didn't look like himself in Game 1 of the ALCS, walking four and throwing 86 pitches in four innings of two-run ball in the Red Sox's 7-2 loss to the Astros. The Red Sox don't believe that performance was attributed to Sale's illness, which he first mentioned after the game.

Gear up for the ALCS

The Red Sox didn't have many other details, but they could have more after Sale is back with the team.

"It's just his stomach," Cora said. "That's it. He felt ill right after the game, started throwing up. And then he decided to go to the hospital and that was it."

Red Sox-Astros G3: Lineups, matchups, FAQs

In the second half of the season, Sale suffered mild inflammation in his left shoulder and pitched just 17 innings from July 28 until the start of the playoffs. Could Sale have taken some medication for his shoulder that led to whatever caused his stomach discomfort?

"No, not that I know of," said Cora.

What was the timeline of when Sale went to the hospital?

"I think it was probably in the morning, like I want to say 2 in the morning, 3 in the morning," Cora said. "That's what I hear. When I got to the ballpark -- actually, [trainer] Brad [Pearson] texted me about it. When I got to the ballpark they told me he was there. Nothing serious.

"He was going to go through a battery of tests and see what was going on. And thank God it's nothing that is serious at all. Like I said, he'll be here tomorrow, and hopefully physically he's ready to go and we'll decide when he pitches."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Chris Sale

Rumors: Connecting Goldy to NYY, Harper to SF

The latest MLB free agent and trade rumors for Hot Stove season
MLB.com

As the postseason concludes, Hot Stove season begins. MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.

Could Goldschmidt be a fit for Yankees?
Oct. 15: Facing a critical juncture this offseason after missing the playoffs in 2018, the D-backs are reportedly expected to listen to offers for a number of their top players, including Paul Goldschmidt.

As the postseason concludes, Hot Stove season begins. MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.

Could Goldschmidt be a fit for Yankees?
Oct. 15: Facing a critical juncture this offseason after missing the playoffs in 2018, the D-backs are reportedly expected to listen to offers for a number of their top players, including Paul Goldschmidt.

• Complete list of free agents this offseason

The problem for Arizona, as ESPN's Buster Olney noted via Twitter, is that there aren't a lot of obvious fits for Goldschmidt, as many contenders are set at first base. However, Olney speculates that the Yankees could enter the mix for the six-time All-Star, who can become a free agent after the 2019 season.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: As has been reported, the D-Backs will listen to offers on their best players, including Paul Goldschmidt. Most contenders are locked in at 1B for 2019; the Cubs have Rizzo, for example. Total speculation: One team that could be a great fit for a Goldschmidt deal -- the Yankees.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: This is all speculation... To add: for Goldschmidt, hitting in Yankee Stadium as he went through his free-agent season, in the middle of a deep lineup, could be a great development for him, as well.

New York's current options at first base include in-season acquisition Luke Voit and Greg Bird, who hasn't been able to stay healthy or consistently produce during his big league tenure. The Yankees will need to decide if either player is a long-term answer.

Voit seemingly has the inside edge to earn a starting job in 2019, as he hit .322 with 15 homers in only 47 games with the club and became an everyday lineup fixture down the stretch. But Voit will be 28 on Opening Day, and he'll need to show that his 2018 performance was not a fluke.

Meanwhile, Goldschmidt remains one of the best hitters in baseball, recording a .290 average with 33 homers and a .922 OPS in 2018, and he could help the Yankees close the gap with the Red Sox and Astros in the American League.

Giants could pursue Harper, but competition expected to be fierce
Oct. 15: Although Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the two biggest names set to hit free agency this offseason, play different positions, the markets for both players will surely dovetail in some way.

For instance, the Giants are expected to be one of the suitors for Harper, and their pursuit could be indirectly affected by the Yankees, as John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out Saturday.

With the news that shortstop Didi Gregorius is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery, many now speculate that the Yankees will make a greater push for Machado.

If that happens, and New York comes away with Machado, it could in turn make the Dodgers -- Machado's current team -- more likely to make a serious push for Harper. That could be bad news for the Giants, as Los Angeles will likely be able to outbid San Francisco for Harper and is arguably a more attractive landing spot for the superstar outfielder.

Braves enter winter with flexibility to address needs
Oct. 15: The Braves could be major players in free agency. The club will have considerable financial flexibility with at least $60 million to spend this winter, reported MLB.com's Mark Bowman. 

Atlanta enters the offseason with needs at catcher and in the outfield, bullpen and starting rotation. The Braves could go a number of directions once free agency opens, but they will likely make another run at the Marlins' All-Star catcher, J.T. Realmuto, and explore the trade market before making any aggressive signings, per Bowman. They could also pursue D-backs pitcher Patrick Corbin, one of the top arms on the market.

Tweet from @mlbbowman: Today���s session with Anthopoulos confirmed the Braves will have plenty financial flexibility. Specifics weren���t revealed, but it appears they���ll have at least $60M to fill multiple needs: Catcher, OF, Bullpen depth, a SP, but only if Corbin or another frontline option makes sense

After being eliminated by the Dodgers in the National League Division Series, the Braves' first move of the offseason was signing manager Brian Snitker to a two-year contract Monday that includes an option for the 2021 season.

Rockies facing big questions this offseason
Oct. 15: Before the Rockies make a bid for their third straight postseason appearance in 2019, they will need to answer a number of pressing questions about their roster this offseason, which Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post broke down Sunday.

Among those questions is what to do about impending free agents DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez and Adam Ottavino. Saunders considers it unlikely that the Rockies will re-sign LeMahieu and Ottavino, and he speculates that the club could look to move on from Gonzalez as well, even though the outfielder has expressed interest in returning.

While that would give Colorado three big holes to address, it doesn't necessarily mean the club will look to the free-agent market for replacements, especially considering the mixed results the Rockies have gotten from recent signings such as Ian Desmond, Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee, a quartet that will take up a sizable portion of the payroll in 2019. The Rockies may also look to work on a contract extension with Nolan Arenado, who can become a free agent after next season.

As a result, greater importance will likely be placed on low-cost youngsters such as David Dahl, Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson, Brendan Rodgers and Raimel Tapia in 2019.

Does Gregorius' injury set stage for Machado to join Yankees?
Oct. 12: With Didi Gregorius set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the shortstop position is now an unexpected question mark for the Yankees.

The speculation, of course, is that Gregorius' injury may only increase the Yankees' interest in impending free agent Manny Machado, who was already expected to be on the club's offseason radar as a potential option at third base.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Could the didi news trigger yankees��� interest in Machado? MM has played a much better ss in LA, is believed interested in yankees.

Machado, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner at the hot corner, struggled defensively at shortstop with the Orioles this season (-18 defensive runs saved), but he has been much improved since joining the Dodgers in a July trade (6 DRS).

Machado's interest in joining the Yankees was documented back in August, when MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported for Fancred Sports that people close to the slugger were suggesting that the club was his first choice in free agency.

Gregorius has been worth 8.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) over the past two seasons, so the Yankees aren't going to be in a hurry to move on from him. But the shortstop can become a free agent next offseason, and signing Machado would give the Yankees extra leverage in contract negotiations with Gregorius, as well as insurance in case his recovery from Tommy John surgery doesn't go smoothly.

The Yankees could also sign Machado and then work out an extension with Gregorius to secure the left side of their infield into the next decade, but they would need to trade or find a new position for third baseman Miguel Andujar.

Kershaw could exercise opt-out clause
Oct. 12: Clayton Kershaw is expected to opt out of his contract with Los Angeles after this season and test the free-agent waters, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Kershaw, 30, has two years and just over $70 million remaining on a seven-year, $215 million contract he signed with the Dodgers prior to the 2014 season.

The '14 NL MVP Award winner and three-time NL Cy Young Award winner has dealt with lingering back issues the past three seasons and was limited to just 26 starts this year, so it is far from certain that the left-hander would be able to find a suitor for another longterm deal. However, he'd like be able to sign for more than the two years he has left on his current pact with the Dodgers.

Video: ARI@SD: Corbin goes scoreless in final start of 2018

Cashman: Yankees will try to trade Gray
Oct. 12: When the Yankees acquired Sonny Gray from the A's in July 2017, it wasn't just a short-term move. Gray is under team control through '19, and he was expected to be an important part of New York's rotation at least until the end of that season.

It hasn't worked out that way. After posting a 4.90 ERA over 30 appearances (23 starts) in 2018, Gray was left off the Yankees' American League Wild Card Game and ALDS rosters. And now, he may now be on his way out of town.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that the club will try to trade Gray this offseason.

"It hasn't worked out thus far," Cashman said. "I think he's extremely talented. I think that we'll enter the winter, unfortunately, open-minded to a relocation. Probably, if he can maximize his abilities, it will more likely be best somewhere else. But then it comes down to the final decision of the price, in terms of trade acquisition and matching up with somebody. If we match up, then I think, yeah, it's probably best to try this somewhere else."

Although Gray's value is down, New York can sell the fact that the righty recorded a 3.17 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP and a 9.9 K/9 rate on the road (6.98 ERA, 1.90 WHIP, 6.8 K/9 rate at Yankee Stadium) as proof that he can still be a viable big league starter in a different environment.

Yankees expected to pursue Corbin
Oct. 11: The Yankees are expected to target left-hander Patrick Corbin in free agency this winter, according to a report from MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman on Thursday.

New York will be looking to bolster its starting rotation after a shaky playoff performance in its Division Series loss to the Red Sox -- Luis Severino, J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia all struggled.

Happ and Sabathia will both be free agents this offseason. The Yankees could try to re-sign one or both of the left-handers, per Heyman.

Corbin, 29, is coming off a career year with the D-backs. He made the National League All-Star team for the second time in his career and set career-best marks with a 3.15 ERA, 1.050 WHIP and 246 strikeouts in 33 starts. More >

Cardinals re-sign Wainwright for 2019
Oct. 11: The Cardinals' pitching staff next season will once again include Adam Wainwright. The longtime leader of the rotation agreed Thursday to a one-year contract for 2019, which will be his 15th season with the club.

The two sides ended any speculation about the right-hander's future when they announced the extension, which will follow a five-year, $97.5 million contract that expired with this season. Financial terms of Wainwright's next deal were not disclosed by the club.

Wainwright's return further fills a rotation teeming with options for 2019. The Cardinals have several other starters -- including Carlos Martinez, Miles Mikolas, Michael Wacha, Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, Austin Gomber, John Gant and Daniel Poncedeleon -- also under contract. More >

Bryant turns down $200 million extension
Oct. 10: The Cubs made an attempt to lock up Kris Bryant to a multiyear deal in the neighborhood of $200 million, but the superstar third baseman turned down the deal in recent months, a source confirmed to MLB.com on Wednesday. ESPN's Dave Kaplan was the first to report the offer and its rejection. The club has not confirmed such an offer.

Bryant and agent Scott Boras are inclined to proceed on a year-by-year salary increase through arbitration before Bryant becomes a free agent after the 2021 season. Bryant earned a record $10.85 million in 2018, the highest salary a player has earned in his first year of arbitration.

Should Bryant plan to wait out his final four years of club control and hit the free-agent market, the Cubs could face the possibility of losing him for nothing. In that context, Bryant might be a valuable trade commodity as a former National League MVP Award winner who is under club control for three more seasons. More >

Marlins deal Barraclough amid push for Mesa brothers
Oct. 10: The Marlins continue to build up more international dollars for their pursuit of Cuban prospects Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gaston.

On Wednesday, they traded right-hander Kyle Barraclough to the Nationals for an undisclosed amount of international bonus pool money. It was the Marlins' second trade in four days after dealing prospect Ryan Lillie to the Reds on Saturday, also for international pool money.

Before the two deals, the Marlins had $4.3 million in their international allotment, the second most of any team. Only the Orioles, at $6.7 million, have more. How much that gap has narrowed isn't yet known.

Victor Victor Mesa, 22, and Victor Jr., 18, are both outfielders. Gaston is a 16-year-old right-hander. Victor Victor Mesa is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the top international prospect on the market, and Gaston is ranked 16th. Major League Baseball recently cleared the three players as free agents, and on Friday they had a showcase in front of about 75 scouts at Marlins Park. More >

A day before Game 3, Alex Bregman posted a video of Astros going back-to-back-to-back off Nathan Eovaldi

There may not have been an ALCS game between the Astros and Red Sox on Monday, but there was plenty of competitive fire anyway. 

With the series tied at a game apiece and Game 3 set for Houston on Tuesday night, Alex Bregman wanted to spend some of his off-day watching video tape -- as players do for research, after all.

J.D.: 'Release by Astros made me who I am'

Martinez must conquer original organization to get chance at WS title
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

HOUSTON -- Fittingly, the journey that J.D. Martinez is on as he tries to win a World Series for the first time in his career will take him to Minute Maid Park this week.

Martinez and the Red Sox come to town tied, 1-1, in this American League Championship Series. Games 3 through 5 are in Houston from Tuesday through Thursday.

View Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- Fittingly, the journey that J.D. Martinez is on as he tries to win a World Series for the first time in his career will take him to Minute Maid Park this week.

Martinez and the Red Sox come to town tied, 1-1, in this American League Championship Series. Games 3 through 5 are in Houston from Tuesday through Thursday.

View Full Game Coverage

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 3: Today, 5:09 p.m. ET on TBS

It is back to the old stomping grounds for the masher in the middle of the Boston batting order.

Martinez, who debuted with Houston in 2011, had hoped to play a big role for a then rebuilding Astros franchise, one that was confident it would eventually climb to the top of baseball's mountain.

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

But Martinez had those hopes taken away coldly on March 22, 2014, when he was released by the club that had drafted and developed him due to a logjam in the outfield.

The Astros did turn into a powerhouse, winning the World Series last year.

Gear up for the ALCS

Martinez turned into a powerful hitter -- one of the finest and most dangerous in the game. First, he went to Detroit and made a name for himself. Then Martinez became a trade acquisition for the ages with the D-backs last summer. And with the spotlight of Boston on him after signing as a free agent back in February, Martinez has swiftly turned into one of the most impactful acquisitions in Red Sox history.

So in a way, everything worked out for both sides.

Red Sox-Astros G3: Lineups, matchups, FAQs

Although hindsight is always 20/20, the decision for the Astros to let Martinez go when they did is defensible when you look at the pedestrian numbers he had there. In 975 plate appearances from 2011-13, Martinez slashed .251/.300/.387 with 24 homers and 126 RBIs.

Martinez has made 2,792 regular-season plate appearances since leaving the Astros, slashing .307/.371/.586 with 171 homers and 480 RBIs. The timing was unfortunate for Houston, because Martinez had just started to discover the art of launch angle during the winter before he was released. But his launch party would start in Detroit, before continuing to other destinations.

Video: ALCS Gm1: Martinez on coming to Boston this season

All of that brings us to this week and Martinez's tantalizing opportunity to stick it to the Astros and stop their path short of a second straight World Series title. To do that, he will have to break out of his early ALCS funk; the right-handed hitter is 0-for-7 with a walk and three strikeouts.

Before Game 2, Astros manager AJ Hinch had called Mookie Betts a ticking time bomb. And there Betts was, breaking out of his postseason rut with a two-double performance later that night. Now it could be Martinez's turn to do the same.

Part of the reason Martinez has the ability to go off and carry the lineup like he has done several times this season is due to the fire the Astros built within him by releasing him at the age of 26.

Video: ALCS Gm1: Betts on learning from J.D. Martinez

"I think it made me who I am," Martinez told MLB.com earlier this season. "I've always been hungry, but when people ask what drives you -- 'How do you stay so driven throughout this whole thing?' -- you just don't stop. It's every single day. The people that know me and the people that love me and are in my life see it.

"My brother-in-law came up to me and was like, 'Dude, I admire your life and what you do and everything you do. It's amazing. I wouldn't want it for me. Because the amount of time you spend in this game, the amount of time away from your family, that's stuff you'll never get back.'

"But it's my passion, it's my love, it's what I love to do. To me, that took my [intensity] to another level where when you have something taken away. … It's like the famous expression, you don't realize you love something until it's gone."'

Now it is the baseball that is so often gone when Martinez steps to the plate.

This season, Martinez hit .330 with 43 homers and an MLB-leading 130 RBIs. He bashed a three-run homer to help sink the Yankees in Game 1 of the AL Division Series.

Video: MLB Tonight breaks down J.D. Martinez this season

It is likely that Martinez will have something to say about the ALCS before it is over.

But if he does "do damage," as the slogan for this Red Sox postseason drive goes, revenge against his former team won't be what drives him. In a way, Martinez is thankful to the Astros.

"I mean, I learned a lot from Houston. And you know what? It made me who I am and there's really no animosity there," Martinez said. "In a sense, they did me a favor by allowing me to leave and going to play on another team. And if it wasn't for that, I probably wouldn't be here right now. Who knows where I would have been?"

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez

Postseason Picture: LCS twin bill tonight

MLB.com

Game 3 of the National League Championship Series saw Brewers right-hander Jhoulys Chacin outduel Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler at Dodger Stadium on Monday night, as Milwaukee claimed a pivotal 4-0 road win behind 5 1/3 scoreless innings from Chacin to take a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series. Orlando Arcia took Buehler deep for an opposite-field homer in the seventh to add two important insurance runs for the Crew.

The series continues on Tuesday at 9:09 p.m. ET on FS1, with Rich Hill taking the mound for the Dodgers against Game 1 starter Gio Gonzalez for the Brewers. The AL Championship Series, currently tied 1-1, will continue with Game 3 at 5:09 p.m. ET on TBS, with Nathan Eovaldi and Dallas Keuchel set to duel at Minute Maid Park.

Game 3 of the National League Championship Series saw Brewers right-hander Jhoulys Chacin outduel Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler at Dodger Stadium on Monday night, as Milwaukee claimed a pivotal 4-0 road win behind 5 1/3 scoreless innings from Chacin to take a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series. Orlando Arcia took Buehler deep for an opposite-field homer in the seventh to add two important insurance runs for the Crew.

The series continues on Tuesday at 9:09 p.m. ET on FS1, with Rich Hill taking the mound for the Dodgers against Game 1 starter Gio Gonzalez for the Brewers. The AL Championship Series, currently tied 1-1, will continue with Game 3 at 5:09 p.m. ET on TBS, with Nathan Eovaldi and Dallas Keuchel set to duel at Minute Maid Park.

Here is a full breakdown of where things stand, with key dates for the LCS and World Series, as well as a complete breakdown of home-field advantage through the Fall Classic. 

Bracket

NL Championship Series (2-3-2 format): Dodgers vs. Brewers (MIL leads, 2-1)
Game 4, Tuesday at 9:09 ET, FS1

Chacin pitched a tremendous game on Monday, striking out six in 5 1/3 scoreless innings and running into trouble only once, when he loaded the bases in the second inning before striking out Buehler to escape the jam. Corey Knebel, Joakim Soria and Josh Hader relieved Chacin before Jeremy Jeffress escaped a bases-loaded jam to close out the win for the Brewers, which ensured that, if the Dodgers were to come back in the series, they would be forced to clinch the series in Milwaukee.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Jeffress K's Dozier to seal Game 3 win

After waiting to announce his Game 4 starter until after he'd had a chance to see who he might need on Monday, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said after the win that Gonzalez will pitch on short rest on Tuesday. Gonzalez made an abbreviated start in Game 1 at Miller Park, when he pitched two innings and allowed only a homer to Manny Machado before yielding to extended relief outings from Brandon Woodruff and Josh Hader. Woodruff was warming up during the Dodgers' ninth-inning rally on Monday but ultimately wasn't needed, while Hader will likely be available again after only needing eight pitches for two strikeouts on Monday.

The Dodgers, on the other hand, have had Rich Hill lined up as their Game 4 starter since the beginning of the series. Hill was wild in his NLDS Game 4 start in Atlanta, walking five in 4 1/3 innings, but limited the damage, holding the Braves to two runs in a 6-2 Dodgers victory. Hill has allowed one run in 11 innings with 14 strikeouts across two career NLCS starts and twice held the Brewers to one earned run in six innings this season.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Arcia cranks 2-run HR in 7th on FS1

The Brewers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, and this is their third trip to the LCS round. They defeated the Angels in five games in the 1982 ALCS, then lost to the Cardinals in six games in 2011. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have won six straight division crowns and advanced to the NLCS in all but two of those seasons. Last year, they beat the Cubs in five games before losing the World Series to the Astros. Two years ago, the Dodgers lost the NLCS to the eventual World Series champion Cubs.

AL Championship Series (2-3-2 format): Red Sox vs. Astros (series tied, 1-1)
Game 3, Tuesday at 5:09 ET on TBS

With the series tied at one game apiece following Boston's victory Sunday night, the ALCS will resume on Tuesday in Houston. Keuchel, a former AL Cy Young Award winner, will start for the Astros, and the Red Sox will counter with Eovaldi.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Bradley Jr. clears bases with double

Keuchel started ALDS Game 3 against the Indians, allowing two runs over five innings in Houston's series-clinching 11-3 victory in Cleveland. His regular season was solid, though not as strong as his 2017 campaign; he went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA over 34 starts. He faced Boston once during the regular season, giving up five runs in six innings in a 6-5 Astros loss at Fenway Park on Sept. 9. He beat the Red Sox in Game 2 of last year's AL Division Series, yielding one run on three hits over 5 2/3 innings at Minute Maid Park. In nine career postseason appearances (eight starts), Keuchel is 4-2 with a 3.28 ERA.

Eovaldi was brilliant over seven innings in ALDS Game 3, giving up one run on five hits while walking none and striking out five during Boston's 16-1 victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. It was the 28-year-old right-hander's first career postseason outing. He was also very good over his final 12 outings (11 starts) of the regular season after being traded from the Rays to the Red Sox, posting a 3.33 ERA. A Houston native, Eovaldi faced the Astros once during the regular season, surrendering four runs on seven hits over six innings in a June 20 loss at Minute Maid Park.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Betts drills an RBI double on TBS

This year's ALCS is a rematch of last year's ALDS, which Houston won in four games en route to the franchise's first title. Home-field advantage in this best-of-seven series (Games 1-2 and 6-7) goes to the Division Series winner with the higher regular-season winning percentage, but never a Wild Card team. That's the Red Sox, who won an MLB-best 108 games in the regular season.

The Astros, who swept the Indians in the ALDS, are the first AL team since the 2010 Yankees to make it back to the LCS in the year following a World Series title. The Red Sox are back in the ALCS for the first time since their 2013 title run. They lost in the ALDS in each of the last two seasons.

This series marks a reunion for Boston manager Alex Cora, who was the Astros bench coach when they knocked out the Red Sox in the playoffs last season en route to the World Series. Houston won the season series between these clubs, 4-3.

World Series presented by YouTube TV (2-3-2 format)
Game 1 is Tuesday, Oct. 23 on FOX (time TBD)

Home-field advantage in the World Series is no longer based on the result of the All-Star Game. Home field (Games 1-2 and 6-7) in this best-of-seven series will go to the team with the higher regular-season winning percentage, regardless of whether the team is a Wild Card winner or a Division Series winner.

Both the Red Sox and Astros finished with better records than the Brewers and Dodgers, so home-field in the Fall Classic is guaranteed to go to the AL club. 

If the two pennant winners go into the Fall Classic with identical regular-season records, the first tiebreaker will be head-to-head record in the regular season. If the teams did not play during the season during Interleague Play, the tiebreaker would go to the team with the better overall record against teams in its own division. If that were also a tie, the tiebreaker would be intraleague records (the NL club's record vs. NL teams and the AL team's record vs. AL teams).

Below are the World Series home-field advantage seedings, which are based on the regular 162-game schedule and do not factor in the two tiebreaker games played in the NL (aka Game 163).

1. Red Sox (108-54)
2. Astros (103-59)
3. Brewers (96-67)
4. Dodgers (92-71)