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Brewers-Dodgers G3: Lineups, matchups, FAQs

Travel day gives pitchers rest after combined record for appearances
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- The entertainment value of the National League Championship Series should remain high as the Brewers and Dodgers resume festivities at Dodger Stadium tonight for Game 3.

The last time the clubs met out west was a wild 21-5 Dodgers win over Brewers Game 3 starter Jhoulys Chacin on Aug. 2, when the Dodgers launched seven home runs. Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig had two each, while Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Brian Dozier slugged one apiece.

View Full Game Coverage

MILWAUKEE -- The entertainment value of the National League Championship Series should remain high as the Brewers and Dodgers resume festivities at Dodger Stadium tonight for Game 3.

The last time the clubs met out west was a wild 21-5 Dodgers win over Brewers Game 3 starter Jhoulys Chacin on Aug. 2, when the Dodgers launched seven home runs. Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig had two each, while Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Brian Dozier slugged one apiece.

View Full Game Coverage

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 3: Tonight, 7:39 ET on FS1

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

Los Angeles scored a 10th-inning walk-off win the previous game, 6-4, on Yasmani Grandal's two-run homer. Milwaukee won the first two games of the series, with Wade Miley, Joakim Soria and Jeremy Jeffress combining on a two-hit 1-0 shutout on July 31.

Postseason gear: Brewers | Dodgers

In the history of best-of-seven series with the 2-3-2 format, teams that split the first two games on the road have gone on to take the series 36 of 80 times (45 percent).

What might the starting lineups look like?
Brewers: With righty Walker Buehler on the mound for L.A., Milwaukee's lineup card is likely to look like so:

1. Lorenzo Cain, CF
2. Christian Yelich, RF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Travis Shaw, 2B
5. Jesus Aguilar, 1B
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
7. Erik Kratz, C
8. Orlando Arcia, SS
9. Chacin, P

Dodgers: Dave Roberts said Grandal will return as his Game 3 catcher.

1. Pederson, LF
2. Turner, 3B
3. Max Muncy, 1B
4. Manny Machado, SS
5. Enrique Hernandez, 2B
6. Bellinger, CF
7. Grandal, C
8. Puig, RF
9. Buehler, P

Who are the starting pitchers?
Brewers: For Chacin (15-8, 3.50 ERA in the regular season), Game 3 of the NLCS will be an exercise in a player's uncanny ability to forget poor performances. On Aug. 2 at Dodger Stadium, a disputed walk helped load the bases for Bellinger's grand slam, part of a 4 1/3-inning outing in which Chacin was charged with nine runs (eight earned) on five hits and four walks.

"I know people might talk a lot about that," said Chacin, who rebounded to post a 2.67 ERA in his final 11 starts of the regular season before delivering five scoreless innings on short rest against the Rockies on Game 2 of the NL Division Series.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Chacin on his effective slider for Game 3

Dodgers: Buehler (8-5, 2.62 ERA) has looked like an ace-in-waiting for the past two months, except for the second inning of Game 3 of the NLDS against the Braves. Things sped up and he struggled through a five-run inning in a noisy ballpark in Atlanta. Los Angeles held Buehler back to make his next start in the more comfortable surroundings of Dodger Stadium. In his only start against the Brewers, he took a tough-luck loss on July 31, allowing one run in seven innings with seven strikeouts and no walks.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Buehler on secondary pitches before Game 3

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Brewers: Let's just say that Sunday's travel day was welcome. Jeffress and Corey Knebel have now pitched in all five of the Brewers' postseason games. Even though there was a nice layoff between rounds, Jeffress threw 39 pitches in Games 1 and 2, and Knebel 31. Josh Hader was off limits in Game 2 after throwing a season-high 46 pitches in Game 1. Soria was off in Game 2 after pitching each of Milwaukee's first four postseason games. The off-day should provide something of a reset.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Counsell on his bullpen strategy for Game 3

Dodgers: They showed the game plan if they have a lead after seven innings. Caleb Ferguson faces the lefties, Kenta Maeda sets up and Kenley Jansen is the closer.

Video: NLCS Gm2: Jansen retires Yelich for clutch save

Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Brewers: Probably not, although manager Craig Counsell said he'd wait until today to make that determination.

Dodgers: L.A. used seven relievers in Game 2 (all but Julio Urias), but only Pedro Baez was used for more than three outs (four), and with a Sunday day off, everybody is probably available.

Any injuries of note?
Brewers: No.

Dodgers: No.

Who is hot and who is not?
Brewers: Yelich, who surged to the finish of the regular season and was an on-base machine in the NLDS against the Rockies, is 1-for-8 with two walks in the NLCS after his game-ending groundout with the tying runner in scoring position in Game 2. He credited the Dodgers for "making pitches when they have to." Moustakas went 0-for-3 Saturday to snap a 10-game postseason hitting streak.

Video: NLCS Gm2: Yelich on dropping Game 2 to the Dodgers

Dodgers: Turner, Taylor and Pederson each had two hits in Game 2. Taylor is 5-for-9 in the series. Bellinger got his first hit of the postseason. Baez has four strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings. Alex Wood has allowed homers in his past two postseason appearances.

Video: NLCS Gm2: Bellinger, Turner spark Game 2 rally

Anything else fans might want to know?
The Brewers and Dodgers set a record for most combined pitching appearances through two games of an LCS with 27. With 14, Los Angeles has the record for one team.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

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

Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Walker Buehler, Jhoulys Chacin

3 keys for Dodgers to gain NLCS edge in LA

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- After tying up the National League Championship Series with a dramatic Game 2 comeback win in Milwaukee, the Dodgers look to take control with the next three games at Dodger Stadium, where they went 45-37 during the regular season and won both NL Division Series games against Atlanta. Rookie right-hander Walker Buehler will start against Jhoulys Chacin.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 3: Tonight, 7:39 p.m. ET/4:39 PT on FS1

LOS ANGELES -- After tying up the National League Championship Series with a dramatic Game 2 comeback win in Milwaukee, the Dodgers look to take control with the next three games at Dodger Stadium, where they went 45-37 during the regular season and won both NL Division Series games against Atlanta. Rookie right-hander Walker Buehler will start against Jhoulys Chacin.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 3: Tonight, 7:39 p.m. ET/4:39 PT on FS1

Here are three keys if they hope to head back to Milwaukee with a series lead, or better yet, end the series without having to go back to Miller Park.

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

1. More Justin Turner magic 
Turner was once a non-roster invitee. Now he ranks with Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth in postseason on-base percentage. Or they rank with him. Bobblehead designers are probably already at work duplicating his freeze-frame with bat in hand high in the air as his game-winning homer flew out of Miller Park on Saturday.

Brewers-Dodgers G3: Lineups, matchups, FAQs

To look at the Dodgers' lineup is to see a deep, dangerous group, and it might appear that Turner is but one cog in a ferocious machine. But to regularly watch the team reveals that he's more than that. He's the most essential member of the lineup, one of the few players who starts every single day against right- or left-handed pitchers. He's a power hitter who draws walks and rarely strikes out, making him one of the game's toughest hitters to neutralize. As he goes, they go.

2. Starters must keep it close
Even with the offensive weapons of this platoon lineup, the Dodgers need to exploit an apparent advantage in starting pitching, which they didn't do in either of their postseason losses. Next up is Buehler, who allowed the Brewers only one run over seven innings in his only start against them this season, at Dodger Stadium.

He stumbled in a five-run inning in his postseason debut, but pitched a strong game in Game 163, an indication that he doesn't shrink in big moments. Pitching at home should help as well. The right-hander has pure stuff to rival nearly anyone in baseball; he simply has to execute.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Buehler on secondary pitches before Game 3

3. Kenley Jansen needs to be Kenley Jansen
So far, so good, for the closer who is highly motivated to finish an uneven season with the ultimate prize. Jansen's one-out walk of Hernan Perez and Perez's two-out steal of second base in Game 2 might have gotten the heart beating, but it was a good sign to see Jansen jam Christian Yelich for the final out.

Jansen has four strikeouts, one walk and one hit allowed in three shutout innings so far this postseason. That's a very small sample size, but it's also very encouraging for the right-hander, who spent much of the season searching for consistent form.

Video: NLCS Gm2: Jansen retires Yelich for clutch save

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Every club's best individual playoff performance

From MadBum to Mr. October, these runs went down in franchise lore
MLB.com @williamfleitch

One of the many joys of baseball's postseason is how one player can make such an outsized difference. There's no better time for a player to go on a hot streak than in the playoffs, when he's able to carry his team for a whole series -- maybe even to a championship. Baseball is a game of ebbs and flows, of zeniths and nadirs, and everyone wants to break out and have a heater in October.

With that in mind, we look at the greatest postseason runs by a player on each of baseball's 30 teams. These are the sort of streaks that make legends in their hometowns ... the sort of runs we'll talk about forever.

One of the many joys of baseball's postseason is how one player can make such an outsized difference. There's no better time for a player to go on a hot streak than in the playoffs, when he's able to carry his team for a whole series -- maybe even to a championship. Baseball is a game of ebbs and flows, of zeniths and nadirs, and everyone wants to break out and have a heater in October.

With that in mind, we look at the greatest postseason runs by a player on each of baseball's 30 teams. These are the sort of streaks that make legends in their hometowns ... the sort of runs we'll talk about forever.

Note: We're sticking to the divisional era here, which goes back to 1969, and is the dawn of the modern postseason.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Paul Molitor, 1993
.447/.527/.851, World Series MVP
Everyone remembers the Joe Carter homer, but Molitor was a monster that whole postseason for the Blue Jays at the age of 37. He was terrific back in 1982 for the Brewers, too.

Orioles: Brooks Robinson, 1970
.485/.471/.788, World Series MVP
This was, of course, the same World Series in which he made the ridiculous play at third base … though with Robinson, it's always a question of which ridiculous play.

Video: #WeKnowPostseason: Robinson's Play

Rays: James Shields, 2008
2-2, 25 IP, 2.88 ERA
This is where the "Big Game James" nickname came from, even if it maybe lasted a year or two longer than it should have.

Red Sox: David Ortiz, 2004
.400/.515/.764, ALCS MVP
It's rather difficult, all told, to figure out which Ortiz postseason to pick: He had an OPS over 1.204 in October for all three of the Red Sox championship teams he played for.

Video: 2004 ALCS Gm7: Ortiz's homer gives Red Sox early lead

Yankees: Reggie Jackson, 1978
.417/.511/.806
The highest qualified OPS by Yankees are, in fact, 2018 Aaron Judge and 2006 Derek Jeter ... but how do you not pick Mr. October?

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Orel Hershiser, 1995
4-1, 35 1/3 IP, 1.53 ERA, ALCS MVP
The season with the other Indians' World Series loss -- no, the other one -- featured vintage Hershiser ... and he split a couple of duels with Greg Maddux in the World Series, too.

Royals: Danny Jackson, 1985
2-1, 26 IP, 1.04 ERA
Bret Saberhagen is remembered as the hero of this Royals team -- along with Don Denkinger, of course -- but Jackson was actually the best pitcher for the Royals that postseason.

Tigers: Alan Trammell, 1984
.419/.500/.806, World Series MVP
Trammell put the perfect capper on the Tigers' dream season. This was a quiet argument for Trammell's Hall of Fame candidacy.

Twins: Jack Morris, 1991
4-0, 36 1/3 IP, 2.23 ERA, World Series MVP
Speaking of the Hall of Fame ... this postseason is almost certainly why Morris currently has a plaque in Cooperstown.

Video: 1991 WS Gm7: Morris' 10-inning shutout

White Sox: Jermaine Dye, 2005
.311/.415/.444, World Series MVP
Several White Sox players had a higher OPS than Dye that postseason -- including Joe Crede, Scott Podsednik and Paul Konerko -- but you've got to go with the World Series MVP.

AL WEST

Angels: Francisco Rodriguez, 2002
5-1, 18 2/3 IP, 1.93 ERA
Back when there were more rigid bullpen roles, K-Rod was deployed liberally and devastatingly in 2002, back when he was 20 years old.

Astros: Carlos Beltran, 2004
.435/.536/1.022
Cardinals fans will be having nightmares about 2004 Carlos Beltran for decades to come ... and they won that series.

Video: 2004 NLCS Gm4: Beltran hits eighth homer of playoffs

Athletics: Dave Stewart, 1989
4-0, 32 IP, 2.25 ERA, World Series MVP
Stewart had a career 2.77 postseason ERA in 133 innings ... he would actually win the ALCS MVP the very next season, too.

Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr., 1995
.364/.442/.818
Jay Buhner was just as good as The Kid in 1995 ... but Griffey is Griffey.

Rangers: Juan Gonzalez, 1996
.438/.526/1.375
The Rangers actually lost this Division Series in four games, but good heavens, was Juan Gone ever a monster, hitting five homers in four games.

Video: 1996 ALDS Gm4: Juan Gonzalez's fifth home run of ALDS

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: John Smoltz, 1996
4-1, 38 IP, 0.95 ERA
You could also go with Greg Maddux's 1995 run -- since the Braves won the World Series that year, after all -- and you wouldn't be wrong.

Marlins: Josh Beckett, 2003
2-2, 42 2/3 IP, 2.11 ERA, World Series MVP
After the Yankees and Red Sox had their first of two epic postseason battles, Beckett was happy to pick up the pieces in the World Series.

Video: WS Gm6: Beckett shuts out Yanks as Marlins win series

Mets: Bobby Ojeda, 1986
2-0, 27 IP, 2.33 ERA
Of all the great Mets starters on that team, it was Ojeda who had the best postseason.

Nationals: Stephen Strasburg, 2017
1-1, 14 IP, 0.00 ERA
Since we're excluding the Expos -- if we weren't, Steve Rogers in 1981 would be the obvious answer here -- we must dig into the gruesome land of the Nationals' postseason failures. Strasburg has the ultimate Nationals playoff line: 0 earned runs, 1 loss.

Video: WSH@CHC Gm4: Strasburg K's 12 over seven scoreless

Phillies: Cliff Lee, 2009
4-0, 40 1/3 IP, 1.56 ERA
Cole Hamels had the World Series MVP in '08, but Lee was actually better, in five more innings.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Ryan Braun, 2011
.405/.468/.714
This postseason performance feels like a lifetime ago, but it's one the Brewers sure would appreciate a repeat of.

Cardinals: David Freese, 2011
.397/.465/.794, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
Freese actually struggled in the NLDS this season ... though he ended up making up for it.

Video: Must C Comeback: Freese's triple ties it up in ninth

Cubs: Jon Lester, 2016
3-1, 35 2/3 IP, 2.02 ERA, NLCS co-MVP
Lester still feels like the postseason starter Cubs fans trust most, and probably always will.

Pirates: Willie Stargell, 1979
.415/.435/.927, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
He also shared the regular-season MVP Award this year, pulling off the rare trifecta.

Reds: Johnny Bench, 1976
.444/.464/.926, World Series MVP
Bench was as dominant as the Reds were in this matter-of-fact World Series sweep.

NL WEST

D-backs: Curt Schilling, 2001
4-0, 48 1/3 IP, 1.12 ERA, World Series co-MVP
Randy Johnson's line this exact 2001 postseason: 5-1, 41 1/3 IP, 1.52 ERA. That is ... difficult to beat.

Video: WS2001 Gm4: Schilling comes up clutch on short rest

Dodgers: Hershiser, 1988
3-0, 1 SV, 42 2/3 IP, 1.05 ERA, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
Hershiser is the only pitcher to be on this list twice ... and how could he not be?

Giants: Madison Bumgarner, 2014
4-1, 1 SV, 52 2/3 IP, 1.03 ERA, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
This is an obvious pick, but at this point I'd like to remind you that Barry Bonds put up a .356/.581/.978 in 2002.

Video: WS2014 Gm7: Bumgarner sets postseason innings record

Padres: Sterling Hitchcock, 1998
3-0, 22 IP, 1.23 ERA, NLCS MVP
He gave up only one earned run in six innings in his lone World Series start ... not that it did the Padres much good.

Rockies: Kaz Matsui, 2007
.304/.347/.500
It was a strange postseason for the Rockies in 2007, but if you forget the World Series happened altogether, it was a glorious one.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

3 ways Brewers can bounce back in NLCS

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- The Brewers were six outs away from riding their bullpen to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series, only to see Justin Turner hammer a Jeremy Jeffress splitter into the seats to even the series at a game apiece.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 3: Tonight, 7:39 ET/6:39 CT on FS1

LOS ANGELES -- The Brewers were six outs away from riding their bullpen to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series, only to see Justin Turner hammer a Jeremy Jeffress splitter into the seats to even the series at a game apiece.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 3: Tonight, 7:39 ET/6:39 CT on FS1

Now comes the hard part for a Brewers team built on relief pitching: Three games in as many days at Dodger Stadium, which could require a different strategy than the one manager Craig Counsell has employed to this point.

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

"I wouldn't say we gave it away. They earned it," Christian Yelich said. "We'll regroup when we head to L.A. It's going to be a challenge, but we'll look forward to it. …

"We'll be alright. L.A. is a tough place to play. They're a great team. But like I've said many times, we were expecting a fight."

How do the Brewers bounce back? Here are three things that would help:

1. A return to form for Jeffress and the bullpen
Josh Hader will be available again for Game 3, but how he's pushed will go a long way toward determining how much he's used in Games 4 and 5. The Brewers' preference not to use Hader on back-to-back days could change, given the circumstances. But even if it does, they'll still rely heavily on the rest of their group of "A" relievers to get them through three games in three days in Los Angeles.

That'll be a challenge regardless, especially if Jeffress continues to struggle on the tail end of a career-high workload. Eight of the 11 runs the Brewers have allowed this postseason have come with Jeffress on the mound.

"He hasn't had the results so far, but he's going to get the ball again," Counsell said. "We're going to need him to get outs. I'll tell you that for this to work, we need to count on our guys. And we're going to continue to."

Counsell hinted at the possibility of another bullpen game for Game 4, with some combination of Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, Gio Gonzalez and/or Junior Guerra likely bridging the gap to Corey Knebel, Joakim Soria and Jeffress in the later innings. It's those late innings where the Brewers' bullpen has uncharacteristically struggled thus far. Outside of Hader and Woodruff, Milwaukee relievers have allowed eight runs over 5 1/3 innings (13.50 ERA) across the first two games of the NLCS. The Dodgers have hit .464 from the seventh inning on, compared to .100 over the first six innings of the two games.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Counsell on his bullpen strategy for Game 3

2. Get Yelich going again
The Brewers had four days off between clinching the NL Division Series in Denver and Game 1 of the NLCS at Miller Park, which was great news for those hard-worked relievers but perhaps not so much for a red-hot hitter like Yelich. After posting an OPS north of 1.000 in each of the final three months of the regular season and hitting 11 home runs in August followed by 10 in September, he was content to take his walks when the Rockies pitched him carefully in the NLDS. Yelich went 2-for-8, including a two-run homer in Game 1, and finished with a 1.196 OPS in the series by virtue of six walks in 14 plate appearances.

With lefties on the mound for the Dodgers to start Games 1 and 2 of the NLCS, however, Yelich was not a factor. He went 1-for-8 with a single and two walks, capped by a game-ending groundout on Saturday with the tying runner in scoring position.

"I've had chances, I just haven't been able to come through," Yelich said. "That's baseball. We had a chance there in the ninth inning [of Game 2] and we came close in the eighth as well. That's all you can do -- give yourself an opportunity. They made the pitches when they had to."

Video: NLCS Gm2: Jansen retires Yelich for clutch save

Counsell predicted a big hit in the coming games. He has proven prescient before; when Jesus Aguilar similarly struggled in Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS, Counsell predicted a big homer with men on base. Aguilar hit one with the bases empty in Game 3. Close enough.

"I think they've pitched [Yelich] well. I'm not seeing anything different," Counsell said. "If anything, I've seen just more foul balls. So I think the couple of pitches he may have got to hit he's fouled them off.

"Look, in games like this against pitchers like this, you don't expect to get a ton of pitches to hit. So sometimes the foul ball is the pitch you had to hit, and then you get into battle mode a little bit."

Video: NLCS Gm2: Yelich on dropping Game 2 to the Dodgers

3. Forget recent history at Dodger Stadium
When the Brewers last visited Chavez Ravine, they won the first two games of a four-game series only to lose the final two in excruciating fashion. On Aug. 1, Yasmani Grandal hit a pair of homers, including a walk-off, two-run shot in the 10th inning. The next night, the Dodgers bashed seven home runs against Jhoulys Chacin and a Brewers relief corps that included utility man Hernan Perez and catcher Erik Kratz on the way to a 21-5 thumping that set a Brewers record for runs allowed in a game.

Afterward, Counsell said the plan was simple: "We lost, and we move on to tomorrow."

Video: MIL@LAD: Grandal smashes walk-off 2-run homer in 10th

It's that simple?

"Yeah, it is. It is that simple," Counsell said.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook. Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

Milwaukee Brewers

Red Sox take care of business, knot ALCS at 1-1

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Knuckles were white, nails were short and tensions were high.

But by the end of the night, the Red Sox did what they desperately needed to do in Sunday's Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, gritting their way to a 7-5 victory over the Astros that sends the series to Houston in a 1-1 tie.

View Full Game Coverage

BOSTON -- Knuckles were white, nails were short and tensions were high.

But by the end of the night, the Red Sox did what they desperately needed to do in Sunday's Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, gritting their way to a 7-5 victory over the Astros that sends the series to Houston in a 1-1 tie.

View Full Game Coverage

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

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

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

The bullpen -- a source of uncertainty entering the playoffs -- came up large for manager Alex Cora, recording the final 13 outs in relief of David Price.

"They did an outstanding job and they've done it throughout the postseason," said Cora. "We trust those guys. There's certain matchups we like with them and we're going to try to go to those matchups."

Sale hospitalized with stomach illness

The offense, led by the legs and bat of Mookie Betts, created some separation with insurance runs in the seventh and eighth.

"Just go out and do what I can to help the team win, try and be consistent in having some good at-bats and getting some timely hits," said Betts. "But it's not just me. We've got 25 guys out here to win."

One of those 25 is Price, who remains winless in his 11 career postseason starts, though he left Game 2 with a 5-4 lead. But Cora came out to get him with two outs in the fifth and the dangerous Marwin Gonzalez at the plate, meaning Price couldn't qualify for the win.

Price did get one monkey off his back. This marks the first time his team has won a postseason game he started. In fact, Price got a standing ovation from an electric crowd of 37,960 when he walked off the mound.

"It's definitely appreciated," said Price. "It wasn't the line I dreamed up to have tonight. We won. That's my first team win as a starter. So if it's baby steps, it's baby steps. I expect to win. But I'm very happy that we won."

Video: ALCS Gm2: Price on Porcello and the Red Sox's bullpen

Winning pitcher Matt Barnes revved up the Fenway faithful by stranding two inherited runners from Price and striking out Gonzalez on an 85.9-mph curve. Barnes came back for a shutdown sixth. Ryan Brasier took care of the seventh. Rick Porcello made another successful cameo out of the bullpen with a shutdown eighth. Closer Craig Kimbrel took care of the ninth for the save.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Porcello K's 2 during a perfect 8th inning

"Tremendous," said Price. "Coming in and getting those last 13 outs, that's huge."

Video: ALCS Gm2: Cora on Barnes, Porcello's relief outing

The game ended with Alex Bregman -- who stepped up as the tying run -- lifting what looked like a popup to left, but ended up only about four feet shy of the Green Monster and in the glove of Andrew Benintendi for the final out of the game.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Kimbrel gets Bregman to fly out, earns save

"And at first I just thought it was going to be a normal out," said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "Maybe one step on to the track. But as I saw Benny go back and get closer to the wall, I started darting over to his way in case of the bounce off the wall. Fortunately it came back [in]."

Video: ALCS Gm2: Bradley Jr. on the final out of Game 2

The big hit of the game was a three-run double off the Green Monster by Bradley in the bottom of the third that gave Boston the lead back.

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

It stayed 5-4 until the bottom of seventh, when Betts led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, to third on a passed ball and then made a mad dash home to score on a second passed ball by Astros catcher Martin Maldonado.

The ball didn't skip that far away from Maldonado, but Betts got a great read and used his speed to dive in headfirst.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Betts scores on 2 passed balls, wild pitch

"I'm not sure I've ever practiced secondary leads, to be honest -- not in professional ball, really," Betts said. "Just something that kind of naturally happens. I think it's just instincts. You've got to trust what you see."

Video: ALCS Gm2: Mookie Betts on his baserunning technique

Betts came through again the eighth, hammering an RBI double to center. Prior to the game, Astros manager AJ Hinch referred to Betts as a "ticking time bomb."

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

"AJ is a smart guy. He went to Stanford," quipped Cora. "Yesterday, like he said, [Mookie] got a pitch middle-middle and just rolled over it with the bases loaded. Tonight, he was able to stay in the middle of the ballpark and it was good. And I saw him smiling today, which is always good. When Mookie's smiling, good things are happening."

Video: ALCS Gm2: Sox on Hinch calling Betts a 'time bomb'

Going back to Houston down 0-2 against the defending World Series champions would have been a daunting thing for the Red Sox. In the history of the 2-3-2 format, only three of the 24 home teams that have lost the first two games have come back to win the series. With the win, Boston is on much more even footing. Teams that have split the first two at home have won 44 of 80 times (55 percent).

Video: MLB Tonight: Bradley Jr. on his offensive performance

"We're locked in, we're ready to go," said Barnes. "Tonight was a big game. Going back to Houston down 2-0 [would've been] tough. The fact that we can even it out 1-1, go to Houston, take the momentum with us, it's definitely big."

Video: ALCS Gm2: Red Sox discuss tying ALCS with a 7-5 win

But before tying the series, there were some roller-coaster moments for the Red Sox.

Video: MLB Tonight: Plesac on the Red Sox's stellar bullpen

In particular, the first three innings were wild.

The Red Sox got off to the start they needed at the plate when Betts opened the bottom of the first by lacing a double high off the wall in center. Benintendi got him right in with an RBI single to right. With one out, Rafael Devers went the other way to left for an RBI single to make it 2-0.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Benintendi, Devers drive in runs in the 1st

In this case, Hinch wasn't happy to be proved right by Betts.

Video: MLB Tonight on Betts' baserunning in Game 2

"He ignited them from the very beginning of the game. The energy of this place when he comes up to bat is really electrifying," Hinch said. "What you try to do is minimize as much as you can in front of them. We didn't do a great job of that today. But from the first bat on, he set the tone from the very beginning. That's why he's very much an MVP, at least [a] candidate."

The Astros roared back in the top of the second. With two outs, George Springer laced a game-tying two-run double down the line in right.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Springer drives in 2 with a double

Then came the missile by Gonzalez against Price, and Bradley's counterpunch in the bottom of the third off Cole.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Gonzalez belts a 103-mph, 397-ft. home run

For the rest of the night, the momentum stayed with Boston.

Video: Reynolds breaks down JBJ's huge third inning at-bat

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

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Price's first zero: When Price walked Jose Altuve and Bregman with one out in the first, some uneasiness fell over Fenway. The Red Sox badly wanted to jump in front first. Price allowed them to do that when he struck out Yuli Gurriel and Tyler White to end the frame.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Price fans White, strands 2 on base

"DP made some big pitches with men on first and second and getting two punchouts to get out of the first," said Barnes. "When you come out and bang the ball in the first inning and put up a couple of runs, it kind of sets the tone for the game and kind of gets everybody rolling."

Video: MLB Tonight evaluates David Price's outing

SOUND SMART
Though Kimbrel was one out away from a clean ninth inning, he wound up giving up a double by Springer and a single to Altuve before getting that final out. In his postseason career, Kimbrel has never had an outing with zero baserunners allowed when he comes in with the lead. However, Kimbrel is now 4-for-4 in save opportunities in the playoffs.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Bradley had already influenced the game with his bat, and he made a huge play with his glove in the top of the seventh. Altuve laced one to right-center and Bradley charged in to make a terrific catch, drawing roars from the Fenway faithful for the second out of the inning. According to Statcast™, it was a four-star catch with a 44-percent catch probability. Bradley had to go 41 feet in 3.2 seconds.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Bradley Jr. runs 41 ft. in 3.2 sec for grab

HE SAID IT
"I could go until they take the ball from me. That's what it is. It's all hands on deck and you're doing everything you can. Even if you're tired, you find a way. It's October and that's what you do." -- Barnes

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

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rick Porcello, David Price

What if Braun had been dealt to the Dodgers?

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

LOS ANGELES -- What if Ryan Braun had become a Dodger?

It almost happened in the summer of 2016, when the Brewers had discussions with the Dodgers about a deal that might have sent Braun to L.A. for Yasiel Puig, Brandon McCarthy and prospects. Just how close those talks came to fruition depends on who you ask. Ditto whether that was the only time a Braun-to-L.A. deal had legs.

LOS ANGELES -- What if Ryan Braun had become a Dodger?

It almost happened in the summer of 2016, when the Brewers had discussions with the Dodgers about a deal that might have sent Braun to L.A. for Yasiel Puig, Brandon McCarthy and prospects. Just how close those talks came to fruition depends on who you ask. Ditto whether that was the only time a Braun-to-L.A. deal had legs.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 3: Tonight, 7:39 ET/6:39 CT on FS1

"You know, I've thought about it," said Braun's dad, Joe, a fixture around Miller Park during his oldest son's 12 seasons with the Brewers. "On the other side, it's fantastic that he gets to experience this here with the team that drafted him.

"There's talk, conversation. I know there were conversations. How close was it? I'm not really even sure. I do know it's a blessing to be here with the Brewers."

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

Ryan has said the same, describing himself as rejuvenated by the Brewers' push to the postseason. He is the only player remaining from Milwaukee's last postseason entry in 2011.

Had he become a Dodger, Braun would not have had to wait as long to play October baseball.

***

Braun-to-L.A. rumors have popped up many times in recent years, but the most serious were during the run-up to Aug. 31, 2016, the annual deadline for teams to acquire players and have them eligible for postseason play. The Dodgers, better against right-handed pitchers than lefties, were looking for a bat to help. Braun has long mashed southpaws.

According to a source at the time, the Brewers had claimed Puig off revocable trade waivers and were working on a deal, one iteration of which would have netted Puig and two prospects along with McCarthy, whose departing contract would have helped offset the Dodgers' luxury tax hit for adding Braun. It was serious enough that Braun remained at Miller Park with some teammates after one of the Brewers' games leading up to the deadline, believing the talks were hot.

At the time, Puig was at a nadir in his Dodgers career, having been demoted to Triple-A that summer. But he would have fit Milwaukee's rebuilding mindset, since he was 25 and signed for the next two-plus seasons for an affordable $14 million. The Brewers were in their first full season under general manager David Stearns, who was in the process of turning over half of Milwaukee's 40-man roster, and Braun was a valuable chip, in the midst of his best season since he was runner-up in 2012 National League MVP Award balloting.

How close did it come? Again, it depends on who you ask. The consensus of several sources is that it was the Dodgers who balked within the final half hour before the deadline.

Officials from both teams declined to reveal details.

The Dodgers did get catcher Carlos Ruiz from the Phillies that August, but they went into the postseason with an outfield that included Howie Kendrick and Puig hitting from the right side and Joc Pederson, Josh Reddick and Andrew Toles from the left. They fell to the eventual World Series champion Cubs in six games in the NL Championship Series, including losses in both of Cubs southpaw Jon Lester's starts.

"We've got a lot of deals that we talk about that don't happen. That would be a full-time job, thinking through 'what ifs,'" Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said. "We're constantly talking. Sometimes deals happen. Sometimes they don't. We just turn the page."

Video: Yelich on Braun helping the team into postseason

The Brewers, meanwhile, proceeded with Braun, whose contract is guaranteed through 2020. He was limited to 380 at-bats and 17 home runs in 2017 by a series of nagging injuries, which were surely part of the equation when Stearns decided to trade for Christian Yelich and sign Lorenzo Cain last offseason.

At the time, outsiders said the Brewers had "too many outfielders," even with a plan to use Braun at first base. But as the 2018 season wore on, Braun's first base mitt gathered dust. Domingo Santana, the primary right fielder entering the year, regressed and spent most of the season in the Minors. Braun posted a .782 OPS in the regular season, the second-lowest mark of his career, but he surged late in the season to an .859 OPS after July 31, including the postseason.

"I feel really good," Braun said last week. "I feel fortunate and thankful that I'm in this position, health-wise. I'd never take it for granted. But for anybody, when you have the adrenaline that's added this time of the year, it helps you feel better physically.

"I feel like I'm going on 25, not 35 right now."

Video: Must C Clutch: Braun hits 2 HRs, go-ahead jack in 8th

Has Braun ever wondered what life might be like had he been traded to L.A.?

"I said that at the time, that it would be more meaningful for me to win here [in Milwaukee] than to go anywhere else and win maybe multiple championships," Braun said. "I meant it. I've been here for so long, I've been through so much, and I have such a special connection to the city, to the fans and to the organization. I honestly didn't think we'd be back in this position as quickly as we are."

***

For Braun, being traded to the Dodgers would have meant playing at home. He grew up in Granada Hills, and while he lives in Malibu now with his wife, Larisa, and their two young children, Joe Braun stayed put.

The Braun men -- Joe, Ryan and Ryan's younger brother, Steve, who played three seasons in Milwaukee's Minor League system from 2008-10 -- were avid baseball card collectors and spent many a Saturday morning perusing the bid board at The Baseball Card Company in Granada Hills, which sponsored the boys' PONY league teams and had Dodgers season tickets.

With that connection, the Brauns attended a dozen or so games per summer at Dodger Stadium, sitting on the third-base side during the Eric Karros-Mike Piazza era of Dodger baseball in the early-to-mid 1990s.

"They still have all of their cards," Joe said. "Ryan has always been very organized. Everything is placed just right. He's got thousands of cards. I think some of them still have the gum."

Tweet from @MLB: Return of the Prince. pic.twitter.com/pu6JRZw5Tk

When the Brewers and Dodgers were talking trades, Ryan shared what he knew with his dad. When Joe isn't with the team, they talk at least every other day, often after games. Seeing his son traded to his hometown team would have been "cool," Joe said, but he has also grown fond of Milwaukee and expressed the same sentiment as his son, that seeing the Brewers reach the World Series would carry extra meaning.

"This is as rejuvenated and excited as I've seen him in a long time," Joe said. "I think September came around and the team started to get on that roll. They were within striking distance. Then they started to play fantastic, and their roll in September just kept carrying on, and here we are in October."

Joe is along for the ride. Maybe a Dodger Stadium memory or two will pop in his head as he takes in batting practice before Game 3.

"You look around, and any one of these kids has a chance to be down there, doing what Ryan is doing," Joe said. "It's been such a long time now. You start thinking about eventually, it will be over."

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

Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun

Bradley, Betts spark Boston's bats in Game 2

CF rips go-ahead 3-run double; Betts goes 2-for-4 in win over Astros
MLB.com @BryanHoch

BOSTON -- The electricity that Mookie Betts has added all season long finally carried over into the postseason and Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered arguably the most important hit of his young career, marking two of the biggest reasons why the Red Sox are flying to Houston with an even American League Championship Series.

View Full Game Coverage

BOSTON -- The electricity that Mookie Betts has added all season long finally carried over into the postseason and Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered arguably the most important hit of his young career, marking two of the biggest reasons why the Red Sox are flying to Houston with an even American League Championship Series.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Betts scores on 2 passed balls, wild pitch

View Full Game Coverage

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

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

Betts' leadoff hit sparked a two-run first inning and Bradley took advantage of Fenway Park's quirks with a three-run double that restored Boston's lead in the third, a pair of pivotal knocks in a 7-5 Red Sox victory over the Astros in Game 2 of the ALCS. Betts was showered with chants of "M-V-P!" after adding a run-scoring double in the eighth.

"I just try to go out and do what I can to help the team win, try and be consistent in having some good at-bats and getting some timely hits and whatnot," Betts said. "But it's not just me. We've got 25 guys out here to win."

Betts shimmies way to standout game

The Astros knew they'd need to proceed cautiously with Betts, who led the Majors with a .346 batting average and a .640 slugging percentage during the regular season but was 4-for-20 through five postseason games. Hours after Houston manager AJ Hinch called Betts "a ticking time bomb," Betts doubled to deep center and scored on an Andrew Benintendi single.

"I saw him smiling today, which is always good," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "When Mookie's smiling, good things are happening."

"He's Mookie Betts," Game 2 starter David Price added. "He's the MVP of our team. He's the MVP of baseball. So he means a great deal for us. But he knows if he's not swinging the bat as well as he thinks he should be, his defense in right field makes up for that."

Boston was 74-15 when scoring first during the regular season and is now 4-0 when scoring first in the postseason -- a welcome turn of events after the Red Sox were handcuffed by Justin Verlander and the Astros' bullpen in the Game 1 defeat.

Video: MLB Tonight on Betts' baserunning in Game 2

"It's unfortunate that it happened in the playoffs, only getting [three hits in Game 1], but it's just one of those days," said Betts, who finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, an RBI and a walk in Game 2. "So I knew we've been really good at turning the page and there's no sense in stopping, and we went out and did our thing today."

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

Bradley had grounded out with the bases loaded to end the first inning. Given the same opportunity in the third, the center fielder delivered against Houston starter Gerrit Cole, who'd limited left-handed hitters to a .162 batting average and a .519 OPS during the regular season.

"The first at-bat, I think it kind of starts back with that," Bradley said. "I saw a lot of offspeed pitches with the bases loaded. Second at-bat, I got started off with a fastball and saw another offspeed pitch, and I was in a hitter's count. So I just wanted to not do too much, see a pitch in the zone that I could handle and I got it on the 2-1 count."

Video: ALCS Gm 2: Bradley Jr. on his bizarre 3-run double

Rewarded for his opposite-field approach, Bradley connected for a drive that banged off the Green Monster, then made two bizarre bounces atop the padding that rests along the wall in foul territory in left field. Astros outfielder Marwin Gonzalez stumbled in pursuit of the ball as Xander Bogaerts, Steve Pearce and Rafael Devers were all waved home.

Video: Reynolds breaks down JBJ's huge third inning at-bat

Bradley's big double takes peculiar bounces

"I've never seen it ride the top of that little edge like that before. It's pretty unique," Bradley said.

Video: ALCS Gm 2: Cora on Bradley Jr.'s clutch 3-run double

Boston can only hope that those bounces keep going its way down in Texas.

Video: MLB Tonight: Bradley Jr. on his offensive performance

"We're excited to get there," Bradley said. "We're ready to compete. I think everybody is going to enjoy themselves, and we're going to just keep continuing to take it one game at a time."

Bryan Hoch has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Sale hospitalized with stomach illness

Ace doesn't travel with team to Houston, but Sox hopeful he'll make Game 5 start
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital with a stomach illness on Sunday, and he didn't travel with the team to Houston, where the American League Championship Series against the Astros will resume on Tuesday.

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

View Full Game Coverage

BOSTON -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital with a stomach illness on Sunday, and he didn't travel with the team to Houston, where the American League Championship Series against the Astros will resume on Tuesday.

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

View Full Game Coverage

Sale is next scheduled to pitch in Game 5 on Thursday at Minute Maid Park, and Boston is hopeful he will stay on turn to make that start.

"He was feeling bad and he's at the hospital," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora after his team's 7-5 win in Game 2 evened the series.

Video: ALCS Gm 2: Cora provides update on Sale's condition

"From what I know, it's nothing serious, but obviously whenever you have to go to the hospital, you've got to be 'worried.' But he should be fine. Hopefully, we get news in the upcoming hours and he'll join us in Houston."

Though Sale hardly looked like himself in Game 1, walking four and throwing 86 pitches in four innings of two-run ball, Cora said it was unrelated to his health.

Video: MLB Tonight talks Chris Sale's illness

"No, no, he started feeling bad after the game," Cora said.

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

Boston Red Sox, Chris Sale

Ranking the 6 managerial openings for 2019

MLB.com @castrovince

Come Opening Day 2019, seven teams will have a different manager than the one they employed on Opening Day 2018. That will be the highest degree of turnover since 2011 (also seven).

The Cardinals already skipped through the skipper-picking process by removing Mike Shildt's "interim" tag mere weeks after he replaced Mike Matheny. But for six other squads, the search is on, and the sheer number of availabilities means there are several candidates in the mix with multiple teams. One or more of them could even wind up with his pick of jobs.

Come Opening Day 2019, seven teams will have a different manager than the one they employed on Opening Day 2018. That will be the highest degree of turnover since 2011 (also seven).

The Cardinals already skipped through the skipper-picking process by removing Mike Shildt's "interim" tag mere weeks after he replaced Mike Matheny. But for six other squads, the search is on, and the sheer number of availabilities means there are several candidates in the mix with multiple teams. One or more of them could even wind up with his pick of jobs.

So let's take a look at each opportunity out there and subjectively rank them in order of basic desirability.

1. Angels
2018 record:
80-82
Rumored and/or known candidates: Brad Ausmus, Eric Chavez, Dino Ebel, Joe Espada, Joe McEwing, Josh Paul, Omar Vizquel, Brandon Hyde

Any job that requires writing Mike Trout's name in the lineup on a nightly basis is a pretty good one. That said, there will be pressure and challenges here, especially with Trout currently under wraps for only another two seasons. Injuries have eroded the pitching ranks (and that includes two-way talent Shohei Ohtani, whose Tommy John surgery removes him from the mound for 2019 and complicates his availability as a hitter). The shadow of the departed Mike Scioscia could loom large, and somebody -- soon -- is going to have to be the one to tell Albert Pujols it's time to take a drastically reduced role.

Again, though, you've got Mike Trout. And Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons. And some good young arms. And an aggressive general manager in Billy Eppler, who is going to try to get you some reliable rotation and bullpen arms and do right by Trout. You aso have a farm system that has improved considerably in recent years (as evidenced by three players -- Jo Adell, Griffin Canning and Brandon Marsh -- appearing on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list).

And if all else fails, the weather is nice.

Video: OAK@LAA: Trout launches his 39th homer of the year

2. Blue Jays
2018 record:
73-89
Rumored and/or known candidates: Sandy Alomar Jr., Rocco Baldelli, David Bell, Stubby Clapp, Mark DeRosa, Espada, Joe Girardi, John McDonald, Eduardo Perez, John Schneider, Rob Thompson, Eric Wedge

Whoever gets this job will have the privilege of being the first big-league skipper to write Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s name in the lineup, and that's the kind of player who can drastically accelerate a rebuilding project. Bo Bichette is not far behind. Toronto's farm system is solid.

Video: Guerrero Jr. goes 3-for-5 in Fall League debut

But it's still going to take time in Toronto. The payroll is dropping (propped up only by the albatross contracts of Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin), the pitching is thin, and playing 38 games each season against the Red Sox and Yankees is brutal. What you know going in, however, is that when this club is ready to compete in 2020 or '21, the resources are there to spend big.

3. Reds
2018 record:
67-95
Rumored and/or known candidates: Ausmus, Baldelli, Freddie Benavides, Bell, John Farrell, Girardi, Billy Hatcher, Pat Kelly, Hensley Meulens, Charlie Montoyo, Tom Prince, Jim Riggleman

The Reds ranked in the middle of the pack in the NL in runs and OPS, but they were next-to-last in team ERA. So it's not hard to identify the primary area of need, and president of baseball operations Dick Williams has said publicly that the Reds are expecting to make significant additions to the payroll for 2019. The infield of Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett, Jose Peraza and Eugenio Suarez offers a very solid backbone for success, and Raisel Iglesias is a coveted closer. But young starters like Tyler Mahle and Luis Castillo did not progress as much as hoped in '18, and an important developmental year for top prospect Nick Senzel, who could transition from the infield to the outfield, was derailed by injury issues.

So it's hard to say how close the Reds are to contention after four straight fifth-place finishes. With Votto entering his age-35 season, it will be interesting to see what Williams and GM Nick Krall land in the free-agent pitching market.

4. Twins
2018 record:
78-84
Rumored and/or known candidates: Alomar, Espada, Brandon Hyde, McDonald, Brad Mills, Jeff Pickler, Derek Shelton, Joel Skinner, Jayce Tingler

Seven months ago, this was a situation pointed firmly upward. The Twins had just surprisingly surged to a 2017 American League Wild Card spot. They made some seemingly solid offseason additions in the likes of Jake Odorizzi, Lance Lynn, Addison Reed and Fernando Rodney, and there was optimism that Byron Buxton was ready to be an MVP Award-caliber player.

Today, it's hard to say which way the arrow is pointing. The Twins were a bust in 2018, and most troubling of all were the steps backward for supposed linchpins Buxton and Miguel Sano. But with a ton of payroll flexibility, top prospect Nick Gordon nearing readiness, young players like Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario offering optimism, and a division loaded with rebuilders (the White Sox, Tigers and Royals) who can pad a win total, it's not impossible to envision a competitive effort as soon as '19.

5. Rangers
2018 record:
67-95
Rumored and/or known candidates: Espada, Girardi, Hyde, Jayce Tingler, Don Wakamatsu

Texas is not far removed from back-to-back AL West titles, but it's going to be a challenging road back to that status, to say the least. Their rotation put up a 5.42 ERA this year and has to be basically started over from scratch (and the Rangers won't be big spenders this winter), with little to work with in the upper levels of the system. The lineup had just three regulars with OPS+ marks above league average (Joey Gallo, Shin-Soo Choo and Jurickson Profar).

So whoever gets this job is likely to have some of the same headaches Jeff Banister had in 2018. General manager Jon Daniels has talked about "re-establishing a foundation for a long-term sustainable model to win here for a long time," which is a very fancy way of saying the Rangers are rebuilding. It will be interesting to see how soon after the opening of Globe Life Field in 2020 the Rangers have the pieces back together, but '19 is almost certain to not be much fun.

Video: General manager Jon Daniels on Rangers' season

6. Orioles
2018 record:
47-115
Rumored and/or known candidates: No concrete reports, as the general manager search takes precedence, but the names of former O's player Mike Bordick and Minor League managers Gary Kendall and Ron Johnson are among those that have been floated

On the one hand, there is something to be said for entering a situation with no/low expectations. Baltimore will be a breeding ground for unproven players, so perhaps this will be a job reserved for an unproven skipper to learn and grow.

But you're not going to win here in 2019. And given the overall state of the O's farm system, the transition taking place at the very top (with the Angelos brothers, John and Louis, having taken over the operational reins from their father, Peter, and a general manager search ongoing) and the difficulty of life in the AL East, there's no telling when this club will be in position to win again.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Springer keeps adding to postseason hit streak

MLB.com @feinsand

BOSTON -- Another October game, another record for George Springer.

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

View Full Game Coverage

BOSTON -- Another October game, another record for George Springer.

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

View Full Game Coverage

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

Springer's game-tying, two-run double off Red Sox starter David Price in the second inning of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series extended his postseason hitting streak to 11 games, moving him past Lance Berkman for the Astros' all-time mark. Springer had matched Berkman in Game 1 with a two-run hit, also in the second inning.

"I'm just trying to hit the ball hard, get to first base for guys like Jose [Altuve] and Alex Bregman," Springer said after Houston's 7-5 loss to Boston. "I understand that I'm hitting first and my job is to somehow get to first base, so I'm just happy to help."

Springer finished the game 2-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs, giving him a .409 average (9-for-22) with three home runs. His seven RBIs are tied with teammate Marwin Gonzalez for the most in the AL this postseason.

Springer's streak began in Game 2 of last year's World Series, one day after he had gone 0-for-4 with four strikeouts to open the Fall Classic. Springer, last year's World Series MVP, is hitting .425 (20-for-47) with eight home runs and 14 RBIs during his 11-game streak. Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter and Hank Bauer hold the big league record for the longest postseason hitting streak at 17 games.

"The moment's not too big for him," Astros catcher Brian McCann said. "His talent, there aren't too many guys that can do the things he does on a baseball field. He seems to slow the moment down; when the lights get brighter, he seems to have a slower heartbeat."

Video: Springer hits safely in 11 straight postseason games

Houston trailed, 2-0, after the first inning Sunday night, but Carlos Correa reached with a one-out infield single and Martin Maldonado doubled down the left-field line, putting a pair of runners in scoring position. Josh Reddick hit a popup to second base, but Springer came through in the clutch once again, fisting a 1-0 fastball to the opposite field, dunking it over first base to score both runners.

The two-run hit didn't just put Springer's name in the record books for his hitting streak; he became the first Astros player to drive in multiple runs in three consecutive playoff games. Springer had two RBIs in Game 3 against the Indians, then drove in a pair of runs in the AL Championship Series opener at Fenway Park on Saturday night. If he can drive in two or more runs in Game 3, Springer will tie Reggie Sanders' Major League record of four straight, set during the Cardinals' 2005 postseason.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Altuve drives in Springer with a single

Springer started a ninth-inning rally against Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, hitting a two-out double and scoring on Altuve's single as Houston cut Boston's lead to two runs before Kimbrel retired Bregman to end the game.

"When the game is on the line, we have a lot of guys we want up," McCann said. "Springer is right there at the top of the list."

Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.

Houston Astros, George Springer

Snitker signs two-year extension with Braves

MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- A little more than two years after being named Atlanta's interim manager, Brian Snitker can proudly say he remains the man tabbed with the responsibility of leading the Braves into the next decade.

The Braves announced on Monday morning that they have signed Snitker to a two-year contract extension that includes an option for the 2021 season.

ATLANTA -- A little more than two years after being named Atlanta's interim manager, Brian Snitker can proudly say he remains the man tabbed with the responsibility of leading the Braves into the next decade.

The Braves announced on Monday morning that they have signed Snitker to a two-year contract extension that includes an option for the 2021 season.

Snitker earned the extension by guiding the Braves to an unexpected National League East title this year. Along with validating his ability to be a highly respected leader, the 62-year-old manager also quickly formed a strong working relationship with general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who moved into his role last November.

Snitker was named the Braves' interim manager when Fredi Gonzalez was fired after the team lost 27 of its first 38 games in 2016. Snitker had spent each of the previous 39 seasons as a player, coach or manager within Atlanta's organization. The expectation that he would simply be a short-term fix faded when Freddie Freeman was among the veterans who campaigned against another managerial change.

The Braves gave Snitker a one-year deal with an option following the 2016 season. There was certainly reason to doubt that option would have been exercised had former GM John Coppolella not been removed from his role and ultimately banned from baseball for his role in the international market scandal that rocked Atlanta's organization last offseason.

Coppolella wanted to hire a new manager and by the regular season's final weekend, Snitker had no desire to continue working with Coppolella.

But once the leadership landscape changed and the option was exercised, a refreshed Snitker took advantage of the chance to prove he was indeed the right man for the job, which he is now expected to maintain for at least a couple more seasons.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves