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Benny Ballgame: Catch puts Sox a W from Series

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

HOUSTON -- Andrew Benintendi needed to cover 45 feet in 3.2 seconds, or the American League Championship Series would be tied at two games apiece.

Boston held a two-run lead with two outs in the ninth inning. Alex Bregman's line drive to left field was sinking fast. Three Astros runners on the bases were off with the crack of the bat. Catch the ball, and the Red Sox take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Play it on a hop, and the game is probably tied. Dive for it and not make the play? Benintendi might not be able to run it down in time to prevent the winning run from scoring from first base.

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HOUSTON -- Andrew Benintendi needed to cover 45 feet in 3.2 seconds, or the American League Championship Series would be tied at two games apiece.

Boston held a two-run lead with two outs in the ninth inning. Alex Bregman's line drive to left field was sinking fast. Three Astros runners on the bases were off with the crack of the bat. Catch the ball, and the Red Sox take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Play it on a hop, and the game is probably tied. Dive for it and not make the play? Benintendi might not be able to run it down in time to prevent the winning run from scoring from first base.

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But Benintendi made the play, laying out on the Minute Maid Park grass for a game-sealing catch in an 8-6 victory.

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 5: Thursday, 8:09 p.m. ET/7:09 p.m. CT on TBS

"That was an interesting game, to say the least," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said afterward.

"The difference in that game was a couple of inches," his Astros counterpart, AJ Hinch, surmised.

With just a 21-percent catch probability, according to Statcast™, Benintendi's game-saving snare was a five-star catch, his first of the year. He had been 0-for-22 in such opportunities.

Tweet from @RedSox: MOOD DOT GIF pic.twitter.com/jM9JVeoybX

"I gave him a kiss after the game," Brock Holt said. "Right on the cheek. I said thank you."

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

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi

Fan interferes with Betts on potential Altuve HR

MLB.com @alysonfooter

HOUSTON -- It took less than 30 minutes into the Red Sox's 8-6 victory over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park for the first controversy to rain down. 

The Astros trailed, 2-0, in the first inning when Jose Altuve sent a long fly ball off Rick Porcello that looked to have reached the seats in right field for a game-tying homer. The ball appeared to hit Mookie Betts' outstretched glove in home run territory before it caromed back onto the field. Crew chief Joe West, manning the right-field line, called interference on the play as a fan's hands made contact with Betts' glove, causing it to close and preventing him from completing the catch.

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HOUSTON -- It took less than 30 minutes into the Red Sox's 8-6 victory over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park for the first controversy to rain down. 

The Astros trailed, 2-0, in the first inning when Jose Altuve sent a long fly ball off Rick Porcello that looked to have reached the seats in right field for a game-tying homer. The ball appeared to hit Mookie Betts' outstretched glove in home run territory before it caromed back onto the field. Crew chief Joe West, manning the right-field line, called interference on the play as a fan's hands made contact with Betts' glove, causing it to close and preventing him from completing the catch.

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ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 5: Tonight, 8:09 p.m. ET on TBS

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

A crew-chief review could not definitely determine if the fan had reached into the field of play or not and the call would stand.

Altuve was called out and George Springer, who had singled to right-center, was sent back to first base.

According to the broadcast on TBS, Major League Baseball informed the network that West had immediately called Altuve out on the play.

The official ruling states:

(e) (3.16) Spectator Interference: When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.

APPROVED RULING: If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out.

Further, Rule 6.01(e) states: No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out on the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectator's interference.

Astros manager AJ Hinch was asked during an in-game interview about the call.

"Well, [West] just said it was fan interference on the field, and my argument was more about the fact that the ball was leaving the yard, the trajectory was there," Hinch said. "Jose paid kind of the ultimate price for something that's out of his control. I don't know if Mookie makes that catch -- he's a great athlete, but how it's assumed an out is unbelievable."

Tweet from @MLB: #Postseason craziness in Houston ��� pic.twitter.com/ldNRUR22XN

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros

Red Sox outlast Astros, take 3-1 ALCS lead

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

HOUSTON -- They've become the kings of the road and masters of the big hit(s) in this postseason, and that formula has moved the Red Sox within one win of the World Series.

Manager Alex Cora's team rode Jackie Bradley Jr.s latest game-turning blast to an 8-6 victory in a pulsating Game 4 on Wednesday that gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead on the defending World Series-champion Astros in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.

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HOUSTON -- They've become the kings of the road and masters of the big hit(s) in this postseason, and that formula has moved the Red Sox within one win of the World Series.

Manager Alex Cora's team rode Jackie Bradley Jr.s latest game-turning blast to an 8-6 victory in a pulsating Game 4 on Wednesday that gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead on the defending World Series-champion Astros in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.

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ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 5: Tonight, 8:09 ET on TBS

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

The Sox are 4-0 on the road in this postseason and could punch their ticket to the Fall Classic as early as Thursday's Game 5, though it will be anything but easy with Astros ace Justin Verlander staring them down at Minute Maid Park.

A postseason classic ended with Andrew Benintendi's diving catch on a sinking liner by Alex Bregman to deny the Astros, who had the bases loaded. It capped a shaky six-out save by Craig Kimbrel, who came in with an 8-5 lead to start the eighth inning and recorded the first six-out save of his career (regular season or postseason) -- but not without allowing a run in the eighth and facing 11 batters. He allowed two hits and walked three, striking out one.

In the history of best-of-seven series with the 2-3-2 format, teams taking a 3-1 lead on the road have gone on to take the series 37 of 44 times (84 percent).

Benny Ballgame: Catch puts Sox a W from WS

To get to this enviable position, Bradley came through with his third huge hit in as many games. A day after hitting a grand slam, the No. 9 hitter roped a towering, two-run homer to right with two outs in the sixth to turn a 5-4 deficit into a 6-5 lead.

Bradley attacked the first pitch he saw from reliever Josh James and mauled it a Statcast-projected 385 feet at an exit velocity of 104.2 mph. That gave Bradley nine RBIs in the series, making him the first player to have that many in an LCS since 2011.

Christian Vazquez set up the rocket for Bradley when he hit a two-out double off the outstretched glove of George Springer, who went up against the wall in center to try to make a tremendous catch.

The Red Sox's high-powered offense tacked on insurance runs in the seventh (bases-loaded walk to Brock Holt) and eighth (RBI single by J.D. Martinez).

JBJ delivers another big homer with 2 outs

Video: ALCS Gm4: Bradley Jr. drills a go-ahead homer in 6th

The bullpen endured some stress against the hard-charging Astros but ultimately got the job done. Kimbrel's struggles in this postseason continued, however, as he gave up a run in his fourth consecutive outing for the first time in his career.

For the third straight game, the Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Astros starter Charlie Morton got himself into trouble by hitting leadoff man Mookie Betts with a pitch and walking Martinez. With two outs, Rafael Devers laced a two-run single to left.

Fan interferes with Betts on potential Altuve HR

Video: Must C Curious: Altuve out on fan interference

In the bottom of the first, there was major controversy when Jose Altuve thought he had a two-run, game-tying homer to right after Betts' robbery attempt appeared to come up short. But as Betts leaped above the wall to make the play, a spectator made contact with his glove, leading to a fan-interference call by right-field umpire Joe West. After a crew-chief review of three minutes, the call stood, displeasing Altuve and the packed house at Minute Maid Park.

Red Sox score 2 in 1st for 3rd straight game

Video: ALCS Gm4: Betts, Martinez and Devers give Sox lead

From there, the game swung wildly. The Astros chipped back with a run in the second. The Red Sox offset it with one of their own in the third. Then Houston tied it in the third on a solo shot by Springer and a bloop, two-out, RBI single by Josh Reddick. In the fourth, Tony Kemp led off with a homer to right to give the Astros their first lead, 4-3.

But momentum didn't seem to be a thing in this game. Xander Bogaerts tied it for the Red Sox in the fifth with an RBI single that scored Benintendi, who doubled for the second straight at-bat.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Bogaerts records 2 hits, drives in 2 runs

By now, the rhythm of the game was becoming clear, and Carlos Correa punched a two-out, RBI single into left in the bottom of the inning against Joe Kelly to make it 5-4, Houston.

Bradley and the Sox would answer back again, frustrating the defending champs, who are now on the brink of elimination.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Red Sox strand 2 runners, hold lead at 7-5

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

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Relive the madness of the Mookie Betts fan interference in ALCS Game 4 with these tweets

Game 4 of the ALCS got off to a wild start Wednesday night. After the Red Sox scored two runs in the top of the first inning, it appeared that Jose Altuve had evened the game up for the Astros on a deep fly ball to right field. Instead, Mookie Betts leaped for the ball and came into contact with some fans as he tried to make the catch. 

As the play was reviewed to rule the call on the field of fan interference would stand, everyone on Twitter tried to figure out what exactly transpired on the play.

Behind Kershaw, LA takes 3-2 NLCS lead to MIL

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- Until there's a World Series ring on his finger, Clayton Kershaw will do just about anything to put one there, as he showed the Brewers on Wednesday.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 6: Fri., 8:39 p.m. ET/5:39 PT on FS1

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LOS ANGELES -- Until there's a World Series ring on his finger, Clayton Kershaw will do just about anything to put one there, as he showed the Brewers on Wednesday.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 6: Fri., 8:39 p.m. ET/5:39 PT on FS1

View Full Game Coverage

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

The future Hall of Famer pitched like one in what could turn out to be his final Dodgers start, stifling the Brewers for seven innings on three hits in a 5-2 Game 5 victory at Dodger Stadium that gave Los Angeles a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.

The series shifts to Milwaukee, with Game 6 on Friday (and Game 7 on Saturday, if necessary) and the Dodgers needing one win for their first back-to-back World Series appearances since 1977-78. When a best-of-seven MLB series has been tied 2-2, the Game 5 winner has gone on to win the series 42 of 60 times (70 percent). Teams leading 3-2 with Games 6 and 7 on the road have gone on to take the series 29 of 49 times (59 percent). The Dodgers are 5-1 with a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series.

"It wasn't as easy maybe as last year to get to this point," said Kershaw. "I realize we've got some work to finish it off and get back. It doesn't really matter how you get there, but thankful that we are here now, for sure."

Kershaw -- the Game 1 loser to the Brewers when he was charged with five runs (four earned) in three-plus innings -- rebounded like a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner. Kershaw said he wasn't thinking about Game 1, but his manager was.

"You could see the same look that you always see, there's a determination and when you get a champion like him that gets hit around a little bit, he's going to respond, and that's what he did today," said Dave Roberts.

Kershaw struck out nine with a curve he could throw for strikes and a slider that darted (season-high 19 swinging strikes), retired the last 13 batters he faced and rested a bullpen that was on fumes after throwing eight scoreless innings in Tuesday night's marathon walk-off win. Of his 98 pitches, 66 were sliders or curveballs. He also walked twice, put down a sacrifice bunt and scored a run.

"In Game 5 of the NLCS, we're going to have guys probably pitching out of their comfort zones all over the place," said Kershaw. "And that was evident today when they were prepared to take me out after five innings. It's definitely in the back of your mind that you want to try to go as deep as possible when the bullpen was taxed as much as it was yesterday."

Video: NLCS Gm5: Kershaw on being one win away from WS

Homerless for a third consecutive game, the Dodgers changed their offensive approach, putting balls in play, using the big part of the field and aggressively running the bases (steals by Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor and Manny Machado). Six of nine hits went to center field.

"The little things played a big part today," said Roberts.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Bellinger swipes second, call is confirmed

After Lorenzo Cain's RBI double off Kershaw in the third inning gave the Brewers a 1-0 lead, the Dodgers tied the game on an RBI single through a drawn-in infield by Austin Barnes in the fifth inning with Kershaw's spot next and Yasiel Puig in the on-deck circle. Roberts said Puig was a decoy and he was sending Kershaw back out to pitch the sixth, but Milwaukee couldn't be sure of that.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Barnes drives in Taylor with an RBI single

"Kershaw was going to hit, we would have had a strikeout or infield groundout," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "We brought the infield in and tried to be aggressive there. So I would agree that that [Barnes hit] was the at-bat of the game. And I think that certainly we get to their bullpen and they've got to do some work in the bullpen. So that changed things, for sure."

Video: NLCS Gm5: Kershaw discusses his at-bat in the 7th

The Dodgers took the lead in the sixth on RBI singles by Max Muncy and Puig. They added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh on a Justin Turner RBI single and a Brian Dozier RBI groundout.

Puig makes impact off bench in Game 5 victory

Video: NLCS Gm5: Turner drives in Kershaw with RBI single

Muncy's one-out hit -- an uncharacteristic bouncer through the left side of the infield for the pull hitter -- scored Turner to break the tie and chased Brandon Woodruff, who had been pitching since the second batter of the game. Counsell used Wade Miley as a one-batter decoy starter to influence Los Angeles' lineup construction. Miley is expected to start Game 6.

Muncy's hit followed Machado being nicked by a pitch, and Machado scored on Puig's two-out single up the middle.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Muncy, Puig give Dodgers lead in the 6th

Kershaw -- who can opt out of the final two years of his contract after the World Series -- added to Dodgers postseason records for wins (nine), starts (22), innings pitched (140) and strikeouts (153). He's 3-5 in NLCS games and 9-8 overall in the postseason.

"It's just a classic case of he executed a lot of pitches today," said Counsell. "He didn't execute in Milwaukee and he executed today. I don't think it was a vastly different game plan; it's simple execution."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kershaw said a third-inning, two-out strikeout of Jesus Aguilar that left the bases loaded and started the 13 straight outs was the turning point in his start.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Kershaw escapes bases-loaded jam with K

"Any time you can work yourself out of situations like that, that's going to make or break the game," he said. "Minimizing damage as best you can as a starting pitcher is huge. In the playoffs you probably don't get many chances to work out of jams because you're going to get taken out of the game because the magnitude of the game is so large."

SOUND SMART
Kershaw joined Jim Palmer (1971 Orioles), Don Drysdale ('63 Dodgers) and Bill Dinneen ('03 Americans) as the only players with at least two walks (batting) and at least nine strikeouts (pitching) in a postseason game all-time, according to Stats LLC.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Kershaw draws 2 walks in Game 5 win

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Barnes' single scored Taylor, who led off the fifth on an infield single, taking second on shortstop Orlando Arcia's throwing error, then stealing third base.

"Having the confidence and trust in your ability to get out there and know that the guy's a little slow to the plate and we can take advantage of that and to go on the first pitch was big time," said Turner.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Taylor, Dodgers manufacture run to tie game

HE SAID IT
"Just thinking that I have to get Woodruff out." -- Kershaw, who allowed a Game 1 homer to Woodruff, on what he was thinking when Woodruff relieved one batter into the game

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

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw

Rumors: Machado, Yanks, Morton, Kershaw, Storen

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.

• Complete list of free agents this offseason 

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

• Complete list of free agents this offseason 

Cashman has no comment on Machado's lack of hustle, says Sanchez isn't available
Oct. 17: Since news broke that shortstop Didi Gregorius would need to undergo Tommy John surgery -- he had the procedure Wednesday -- speculation has increased about the Yankees' intention to pursue Manny Machado in free agency.

Tweet from @TMKSESPN: ICYMI: Brian Cashman joins the guys to discuss Severino tipping pitches, Greg Bird's role on the team, Jacoby Ellsbury's future and more.🔊https://t.co/qmnQZ2htBO

Meanwhile, Machado has drawn some negative attention for his lack of hustle in the NLCS vs. the Brewers. Although Machado's name wasn't specifically mentioned, Brian Cashman was asked about the situation when the Yankees general manager called into "The Michael Kay Show" on Wednesday.

"If somebody is an otherworldly talent that doesn't run hard to first base all the time, would that be somebody the Yankees would want to put in their clubhouse?" Kay asked.

Cashman, though, wouldn't take the bait.

"Boy, you're really good at what you do," Cashman said, good-naturedly. "You're trying to Jedi mind trick me into answering a question that would put me into the abyss at MLB."

Video: MLB Now looks at Machado not running out a grounder

However, Cashman did have an emphatic answer when asked whether he had any pause about moving forward with Gary Sanchez as the Yankees' starting catcher after the slugger's disappointing season.

"I believe in Gary Sanchez," Cashman said. "Clearly it's up to us to continue to find ways to unlock what he's capable of.

"I'm already getting phone calls, to be honest, clubs trying to knock on our door to see if he's available, and he's not."

Morton tagged for three runs in ALCS Game 4 showcase start
Oct. 17: Bound for free agency this offseason, Astros right-hander Charlie Morton wasn't needed at all in the postseason before his start on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against Boston.

But in what could have been his final showcase as a starter for potential suitors, Morton didn't make it out of the third inning, getting tagged for three runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings, including a Rafael Devers two-run single in the first and a Xander Bogaerts RBI double in the third, which chased him from the game. He struck out two, walked two, hit a batter and uncorked two wild pitches.

Morton said before Tuesday's Game 3 that he would not be Houston's starter for Game 7 of the ALCS if the series were to make it that far. He could be available out of the bullpen, as he was in Game 7 of last season's World Series, but he indicated that it would be unlikely due to the composition of Houston's relief corps.

"I'm more than willing to go down [to the bullpen]," Morton said. "But even with just having [Collin McHugh] and [Lance McCullers Jr.] down there for some length, and [Josh James] as well, it doesn't seem like there's been a pressing need for a guy that's usually starting to go down there."

The right-hander will likely be one of the most coveted free-agent starters despite his Wednesday struggles, as he has gone 29-10 with a 3.36 ERA and a 10.4 K/9 rate in 55 regular-season starts over two years with Houston. He was also outstanding in the World Series last year, allowing two runs in 10 1/3 innings and getting the final 12 outs of Game 7.

Granted, there's a chance that Morton, who has pondered retirement, will never enter free agency, as he might be willing to accept a possible $17.9 million qualifying offer to stay in Houston for one more year before calling it a career.

Kershaw dazzles in what could be last Dodgers start, still undecided on opt-out clause
Oct. 17: Clayton Kershaw is expected to opt out of his contract with the Dodgers after this season and test the free-agent market, according to a recent report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The 30-year-old left-hander tossed seven strong innings in Los Angeles' 5-2 win in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against the Brewers on Wednesday, giving up one run on three hits, walking two and striking out nine to help give the Dodgers a 3-2 series lead.

Kershaw was asked prior to the game whether he had made a decision on the matter within the context that he could be making his final career start with the Dodgers should they fail to advance to the World Series.

"I have not made a decision," Kershaw said. "And to my understanding you get 10 days after the World Series. So should be a busy 10 days."

Kershaw was referencing the 10-day period after the World Series in which he will be mandated to make a decision of whether to opt out of the 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.

When asked if he had been processing things differently this postseason given his well-accoladed history with Los Angeles, and the potential that this could be his last with the Dodgers, Kershaw said: "Trying not to. I think it's hard enough to try and win a postseason game. I know more than anybody knows that. So, I think for me it's just trying to focus as much as I possibly can on the Brewers and getting ready for [Wednesday's] start. And putting everything else on the back burner as best I possibly can."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts echoed Kershaw's sentiment and focus when he was asked about Kershaw's uncertain future with the club. 

"You bring it up to my attention and I'm sure -- I guess it's a reality," Roberts said. "But I think that for me it's just thinking about [Wednesday] with Clayton pitching for us. And so I don't get too far ahead of that, no."

Kershaw, 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 likely be able to sign for more than the two years he has left on his current pact with the Dodgers. More >

Storen hoping to make comeback after missing 2018
Oct. 17: More than a year removed from undergoing Tommy John surgery, reliever Drew Storen is hoping to make a comeback in 2019, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported via Twitter on Wednesday.

The right-hander underwent the procedure Sept. 26, 2017, and missed the entire '18 campaign while recovering. Per Heyman, the 31-year-old free agent is throwing his full arsenal of pitches and is ready to showcase himself to Major League clubs.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Drew Storen sat last year out after Tommy John surgery but he���s throwing his full arsenal of pitches now & is ready to showcase for teams. Storen, still only 30, appears ready to go as the video suggests: pic.twitter.com/qXuj4PcUX3

Storen posted a 4.45 ERA over 54 2/3 innings with the Reds in '17, but he owns a lifetime 3.45 ERA with 99 saves in eight big league seasons.

Oh wants to return to KBO
Oct. 17: Seunghwan Oh wants to return to the Korea Baseball Organization after three seasons in MLB, the Rockies reliever told Korean news outlets Wednesday.

Oh has a guaranteed $2.5 million salary with the Rockies for next season, as the vesting option in his contract kicked in after he made 70 appearances this year. But the 36-year-old's preference appears to be to go back to the league where he pitched his first nine professional seasons. Oh first left the KBO for Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball in 2014, then jumped to the Major Leagues in 2016.

"I am a bit exhausted after spending five seasons in Japan and the United States," Oh said. "I feel like I want to return to the KBO while I still have the energy to help the team and pitch in front of home fans. I can't make this decision alone. I'll have to speak with my agency about the next season."

Oh also said, "It's not easy living in a foreign country. You have to face the opposing hitters on the mound, and there are a lot of other things you have to battle off the field. Everything away from the stadium is an extension of competition."

If Oh does, in fact, leave the Majors, the Rockies would have to replace a key bullpen spot for 2019. After the Rockies acquired him in July, Oh became an important member of what was at times a shaky relief corps in Colorado, posting a 2.53 ERA in 25 appearances down the stretch with 24 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings. Oh pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in the Rockies' NL Wild Card Game win over the Cubs, keeping the game tied in the 10th and 11th innings. He allowed two runs in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Brewers, but pitched a scoreless inning in Game 3.

Adam Ottavino, probably the team's best reliever this season, is also set to become a free agent. Without Oh, addressing the bullpen this winter, which would already have been a priority for the Rockies, would become even more critical.

Blue Jays could have significant roster turnover this offseason
Oct. 17: The Blue Jays began their rebuild during the 2018 season by shipping out a number of veterans, including Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ, Roberto Osuna and Curtis Granderson, and that process could continue this offseason.

On Wednesday, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca detailed an extensive offseason plan for Toronto that involves the club trading catcher Russell Martin and designated hitter Kendrys Morales while eating a large portion of both players' salaries.

Nicholson-Smith also suggests that the Jays trade infielder Aledmys Diaz for right-hander Sonny Gray, whom the Yankees are known to be shopping. With Didi Gregorius recovering from Tommy John surgery, Diaz would give the Yanks insurance at shortstop in case they don't sign Manny Machado.

As part of Nicholson-Smith's plan, the Jays would come away with free-agent starter Trevor Cahill and deal for Marlins reliever Adam Conley as well, while picking up first baseman Justin Smoak's $8 million club option and declining infielder Yangervis Solarte's $5.5 million club option.

Per Nicholson-Smith, if this plan is executed, the Jays will open up more playing time for youngsters while also putting themselves in position to have some attractive targets to move before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Eovaldi, Keuchel turn in strong performances in ALCS Game 3
Oct. 16: With not only a national audience of fans watching, but also potential suitors in free agency, Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel each turned in formidable performances during Boston's 8-2 win in ALCS Game 3 on Tuesday. 

Ahead of ALCS Game 3, MLB.com's Mike Petriello broke down how both Eovaldi and Keuchel could be among the most coveted free agent starting pitchers this offseason.

Video: ALCS Gm3: Eovaldi K's 4, allows 2 ER over 6

Eovaldi, who Boston acquired from Tampa Bay ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline explicitly to make starts such as Tuesday's, allowed two runs on six hits and two walks over six strong innings while averaging a whopping 98.8 mph on his four-seam fastball and topping out at 101 mph. Eovaldi's blemishes came in the fifth inning, when he walked Jose Altuve in a full count with two outs and then surrendered a game-tying double to the red-hot Alex Bregman. Eovaldi eventually got out of the fifth with no more damage and returned to toss a scoreless sixth. 

Eovaldi's stock appears to be on the rise after undergoing multiple surgeries to repair his pitching arm, including two Tommy John operations. After missing all of the 2017 season and the first two months of '18 while recovering from the latest tear in his right elbow, Eovaldi bounced back to go 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA over 12 regular season outings -- and he's been even better in his first career postseason. In addition to Tuesday, Eovaldi tossed seven scoreless innings in the Red Sox's 16-1 win over the Yankees of Game 3 of the AL Division Series last Tuesday,. 

Keuchel on Tuesday gave up three of the four hits he surrendered and two runs in the first inning -- a one-run double to J.D. Martinez and an RBI groundout to Xander Bogaerts -- then threw four scoreless frames to finish his outing. He also issued two walks, and left with a 2-1 deficit, as the Astros' loss fell on the shoulders of their bullpen. 

Video: ALCS Gm3: Keuchel on his start, Astros' Game 3 loss

Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, may have seen his stock drop some in 2018 after two All-Star appearances over the three seasons prior, but the left-hander is nonetheless considered one of the better starting arms that will be available in free agency. After being limited in consecutive seasons due to injuries (left shoulder pain in '16 and neck discomfort in '17), Keuchel eclipsed the 200-inning plateau for the third time in '18, going 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA. 

Marlins add more international bonus pool money with eye on three Cuban prospects
Oct. 16: The Marlins created more financial flexibility on Tuesday to make an aggressive run at the three coveted Cuban prospects they've been pursuing this offseason, trading Minor Leaguers Adonis Giron and Brayan De Paula to the Astros for $500,000 in international bonus pool money, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. 

The latest of their three trades this offseason is believed to have pushed Miami's international bonus pool ahead of the Orioles' $6.7 million for the MLB high. That would put them in a more favorable position to sign Cuban prospects Victor Victor Mesa, his brother, Victor Mesa Jr., and Sandy Gaston, who were each granted free agency by MLB a few weeeks ago, making them eligible to sign at any time.

Video: Hill discusses hosting Mesa, Gaston at showcase

Tuesday's trade was the Marlins' third this offseason that was largely geared at adding international talent. On Oct. 10, they traded right-hander Kyle Barraclough to the Nationals for $1 million and on Oct. 6, they traded right-handed pitching prospect Ryan Lillie to the Reds for $750,000. 

Before the two deals, the Marlins had $4.3 million in their international allotment, behind only the Orioles. 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. More >

Kluber, Paxton, MadBum among SP trade candidates who could shake up offseason
Oct. 16: Last offseason, clubs had limited options when it came to free-agent starting pitchers, but the market was bolstered by the availability of Gerrit Cole, who was traded to the Astros and ended up being one of the best additions any team made over the past year.

In a story for the New York Post on Tuesday, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman shared a handful of names who could do the same for the market if they are made available this offseason, with the Indians' Corey Kluber, the Mariners' James Paxton and the Giants' Madison Bumgarner among them.

Based on contract escalators tied to his finishes in Cy Young Award voting, Kluber is expected to be owed $17 million for next season, with club options for 2020 and '21 that could be worth up to $17.5 million and $18 million, respectively.

Sherman argues the Indians would still be prohibitive favorites in a weak AL Central even if they traded Kluber, who will turn 33 years old in April and has struggled in each of the past two postseasons, as the club could use that money to address other needs on the roster.

As for Paxton, Sherman notes that the Mariners have few ways to significantly improve their situation, given their old, expensive core and poor farm system. Trading the big left-hander, who can become a free agent after the 2020 campaign and has never thrown more than 160 1/3 innings in a season, could be a way to address some of their needs.

Bumgarner, meanwhile, has a $12 million club option for 2019 and should draw significant trade interest despite showing signs of decline in '18. Per Sherman, it could make sense for the Giants to deal the left-hander now, as they are unlikely to be serious contenders in '19 and would be taking a major risk by signing him to an extension.

Also part of Sherman's list were the D-backs' Robbie Ray and the Cardinals' Carlos Martinez, who both dealt with injuries in '18 but have displayed ace potential in the past. Ray can become a free agent after 2020, while Martinez is controllable for five more seasons if his club options are picked up for '22 ($17 million) and '23 ($18 million).

Machado, Grandal on opposite tracks in postseason
Oct. 16: One run of postseason games might not outweigh the full body of work of the regular season, but it leaves an impression. And two of the Dodgers' key free-agents-to-be, Manny Machado and Yasmani Grandal, have been trending in opposite directions this October.

Machado, one of the two marquee names hitting the market this winter along with Bryce Harper, has been heating up. After a slow-ish start to the playoffs -- which still included the decisive two-run homer in the Dodgers' Game 2 NLDS win over the Braves -- the superstar shortstop has three multi-hit efforts and a pair of home runs in his last four games. In the NLCS, Machado is 5-for-11 with a homer and a double (although there have been questions about his hustle after he didn't run hard on a groundout in Game 2).

Grandal, on the other hand, has struggled offensively and behind the plate. He's hitting just .136 this postseason (3-for-22) with one homer. But Grandal's defense has been the most visible issue. He's had two nightmarish games in the NLCS, both of which have resulted in the Dodgers replacing him with Austin Barnes for the following game.

In Game 1, a one-run loss, Grandal had two errors and two passed balls -- becoming the first catcher in postseason history with multiple errors and multiple passed balls in the same game. Barnes then started Game 2. Grandal returned for Game 3, but had another tough night in another Dodgers loss. He couldn't block a wild pitch in the sixth inning, which brought home a run for the Brewers, and he had a passed ball in the eighth. After that, Barnes will start Tuesday's Game 4.

That's now two straight postseasons Grandal has lost playing time to Barnes. Last year, Barnes started 13 of the Dodgers' 15 playoff games at catcher, including all seven World Series games, compared to just two starts for Grandal.

Even after Grandal's impressive 2018 regular season -- he hit the second-most home runs among catchers (24) and the third-highest wRC+ (125, meaning he was 25 percent better than a league-average hitter) -- that's not what potential suitors want to see in October out of a free-agent target, especially one who could be an important signing at a critical position.

JBJ delivers another big homer in Game 4

MLB.com @feinsand

HOUSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. isn't overthinking his success this postseason.

"Putting good swings on good pitches," Bradley said after hitting a grand slam that broke Game 3 open on Tuesday night. "That's pretty much it."

View Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. isn't overthinking his success this postseason.

"Putting good swings on good pitches," Bradley said after hitting a grand slam that broke Game 3 open on Tuesday night. "That's pretty much it."

View Full Game Coverage

ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 5: Tonight, 8:09 p.m. ET on TBS

Bradley put another good swing on a pitch in Wednesday night's 8-6 win in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, launching a two-run home run against Astros right-hander Josh James with two out in the sixth at Minute Maid Park. The blast -- which had an exit velocity of 104.2 mph, according to Statcast™ -- gave the Red Sox a 6-5 lead in a game that saw the two teams score in eight of first 11 turns at bat.

ALCS fun fact: Each of JBJ's big hits have come with two outs

James had been dealing since taking over for starter Charlie Morton in the third, striking out five while allowing only one run in 3 1/3 innings. But Christian Vazquez drove a double off the wall in right-center with two out, putting the tying run on base.

Tweet from @MLB: JBJ has done it AGAIN. Can you believe it? #ALCS pic.twitter.com/U2uoYLdZr7

As it turned out, Bradley was also in scoring position thanks to his big swing, which traveled a projected 385 feet, according to Statcast™, for the go-ahead homer.

Bradley has driven in multiple runs in three straight games, having hit a three-run double off the Green Monster in Boston's Game 2 win. The only other players in Red Sox history to record multiple-RBI games in three consecutive postseason contests are Manny Ramirez (2004), John Valentin (1999) and Nomar Garciaparra (1998). Garciaparra is the only one of the group to knock in three or more runs in three straight.

Tweet from @MLB: JBJesus has saved the @RedSox. #ALCS pic.twitter.com/AFOrdQDiVp

Bradley went 2-for-14 (.143) with no RBIs in Boston's first five postseason games, but his sixth-inning homer made him 3-for-9 (.333) with two homers and nine RBIs since the start of Game 2.

Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.

Boston Red Sox, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Miley removed after 1 batter, will start Game 6

Veteran lefty replaced by righty Woodruff after walking Bellinger
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

LOS ANGELES -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell put the plan in motion on Monday, when, tucked in a small room on the ground floor of Dodger Stadium, he publicly tabbed Wade Miley as his Game 5 starter. Privately, Miley was warned "things may be different." But it wasn't until more than a full day later that Miley learned he was a pawn, cast by Counsell to star in the back-and-forth battle that has defined this National League Championship Series.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 6: Friday, 8:39 p.m. ET/7:39 CT on FS1

View Full Game Coverage

LOS ANGELES -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell put the plan in motion on Monday, when, tucked in a small room on the ground floor of Dodger Stadium, he publicly tabbed Wade Miley as his Game 5 starter. Privately, Miley was warned "things may be different." But it wasn't until more than a full day later that Miley learned he was a pawn, cast by Counsell to star in the back-and-forth battle that has defined this National League Championship Series.

NLCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 6: Friday, 8:39 p.m. ET/7:39 CT on FS1

View Full Game Coverage

By the time Miley toed the rubber Wednesday afternoon, on three days' rest, he remained one of the few who knew the truth: No matter how Miley handled Dodgers leadoff man Cody Bellinger, the left-hander's day would then be done. Brandon Woodruff would follow, jogging out from Milwaukee's bullpen in the right-field corner to commence the Brewers' fourth bullpen game of the postseason and third of the NLCS.

"That's," Counsell said, "what we were going to do all along."

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

How history remembers the scheme and if it's mimicked in Octobers to come will probably hinge on how the series ends for the Brewers, starting on Friday, when their season will be on the line following Wednesday's 5-2 loss in Game 5 to the Dodgers, which put them down, 3-2, in the best-of-seven series.

But first, the certainties: Milwaukee will still return to Miller Park in what Counsell called "a position of strength," even facing elimination after letting Game 5 slip away.

Miley, arguably their top starter, is now set to start Game 6. Jhoulys Chacin, the other pitcher in that conversation, will prep for a possible Game 7. Both will be on full rest. Both will be backed by the full support of Milwaukee's vaunted bullpen, with Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress and Corey Knebel all having sat out Game 5. It is as enviable a position as possible for the Brewers, given the circumstances.

"We're sitting in a very good spot and we have a great opportunity," Counsell said. "And I know you're going to play, 'What if we could have captured another of these games?' But we're still going home and have a chance with this thing, with a bunch of guys in really good shape."

How long Miley's leash will be Friday remains to be seen. With Chacin available and several other Brewers relievers able to throw multiple innings, the smart money is on Miley functioning as something in between a traditional starter and the opener he was used as Wednesday, when he walked Bellinger on five pitches before giving way to Woodruff.

The goal, Counsell admitted, was "to get matchups." In that way, it was a chess move thematic of this series, which has pitted Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Counsell against each other in a near-constant battle for platoon advantages.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Counsell on Miley strategy, Woodruff

"It's not my job to question it," Miley said. "We're trying to get to the World Series. This is the strategic side of it. I was in. Everybody bought in."

Woodruff struck out eight over 5 1/3 largely effective innings after Miley's exit, but Woodruff took the loss after allowing a go-ahead single to Max Muncy in Los Angeles' two-run sixth. Woodruff and Miley were both informed of the plan early Wednesday morning after Milwaukee used seven pitchers in its 13-inning Game 4 loss.

"Seeing the situation from last night," Woodruff said,"I could read between the lines."

Video: NLCS Gm5: Woodruff K's 8 over 5 1/3 innings in relief

The few who were in on it were sworn to secrecy. But as first pitch approached, word began to trickle out. Counsell tapped Mike Moustakas on the shoulder, with news an early mound visit would be coming. Ryan Braun was told. In the clubhouse, Miley spun his chair toward Christian Yelich, catching the outfielder off guard.

"I'm probably going to go out there and throw about four of those things," Miley said.

"What are you talking about?" Yelich said.

"I'm only throwing to the first batter," Miley said, before heading to the bullpen.

Woodruff watched in hiding as Miley warmed up, remaining in the bullpen tunnel until the two teams exchanged lineup cards.

"Then I came out," Woodruff said. "I was told not to inform anybody. I was told to keep it to myself."

It is unclear how aware the Dodgers were. Starting Miley kept the left-handed-hitting Joc Pederson and the right-handed-hitting Yasiel Puig (who had reverse splits this year) out of Roberts' starting lineup, but he moved the left-handed-hitting Bellinger to leadoff and started Max Muncy at second base. Roberts stacked his lineup with all righties against Miley in Game 2.

"You've got to prepare for the unexpected," Roberts said.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Roberts on unconventional usage of Miley

It's probably unwise to expect anything less going forward, with the Brewers' backs against the wall.

"We've got two starters lined up and we've got a bullpen that's going to get a day off," Counsell said, "and some key guys who are going to get multiple days off and be ready to go in a two-game stretch where we can use them."

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

Milwaukee Brewers, Wade Miley, Brandon Woodruff

Postseason close calls involving fans in the stands

MLB.com

When a first-inning drive to right field off the bat of Jose Altuve was ruled an out due to fan interference as Mookie Betts leaped at the wall during Wednesday's Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, the play joined several instances of close calls that involved potential fan interference in the postseason. Here's a look at seven of them dating back to 1996:

When a first-inning drive to right field off the bat of Jose Altuve was ruled an out due to fan interference as Mookie Betts leaped at the wall during Wednesday's Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, the play joined several instances of close calls that involved potential fan interference in the postseason. Here's a look at seven of them dating back to 1996:

Video: Must C Curious: Altuve out on fan interference

Jose Altuve, 2018 ALCS Game 4
Altuve drove a Rick Porcello fastball deep to right field in the first inning in a bid for a game-tying homer, and as Betts made his leap, multiple fans reached for the ball and deflected it back onto the field. Umpire Joe West ruled it to be fan interference, and that Altuve was out as a result. Upon replay review, the out call was upheld.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Correa hits a solo homer after review

Carlos Correa home run, 2017 ALCS Game 2
Correa lined a 99.3-mph fastball from the Yankees' Luis Severino for a solo home run to break a scoreless tie in the fourth inning at Minute Maid Park. But a young fan reached out and caught the ball on the fly right over the right-field wall as Aaron Judge was pursuing it, prompting a replay review for potential fan interference. Upon review, the call on the field was upheld, and the Astros took a 1-0 lead, going on to win the game, 2-1, to take a 2-0 series lead.

Video: ALCS Gm6: Kids discuss catching Moustakas' homer

Mike Moustakas home run, 2015 ALCS Game 6
Moustakas smashed a low line drive to right-center field off the Blue Jays' David Price in the second inning, and as it headed right for the threshold between the wall and the stands, Royals fan Caleb Humphreys reached out and caught the ball over the railing. Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista raised his hands to signal fan interference, and the play was reviewed. Upon replay, the home run was upheld. Kansas City went on to win that game to clinch the AL pennant before winning its first World Series title in 30 years.

Video: OAK@DET Gm4: V-Mart's reviewed homer ties game at 4

Victor Martinez home run, 2013 ALDS Game 4
Martinez belted a game-tying solo homer to right field off the Athletics' Sean Doolittle in the seventh inning at Comerica Park, but as soon as the ball landed, Oakland outfielders Josh Reddick and Coco Crisp argued a fan had interfered. A's manager Bob Melvin asked for a replay review, but the home run call was upheld. Detroit would go on to win Game 4, 8-6, to tie the series before advancing to the ALCS two nights later with a win in Oakland.

Robinson Cano home run, 2010 ALCS Game 4
Cano drove an 0-1 pitch from Rangers starter Tommy Hunter to deep right field at Yankee Stadium, and as right fielder Nelson Cruz leaped to try to rob a home run, multiple Yankees fans reached out and deflected the ball. The call on the field was a home run, and there was no replay review. Despite trailing at that point, the Rangers went on to win that game, 10-3, and the series in six games.

Video: 2003 NLCS Gm 6: Bartman interference

Steve Bartman foul ball, 2003 NLCS Game 6
With the Cubs six outs away from advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945, starter Mark Prior went back to the mound for the eighth inning at Wrigley Field with a 3-0 lead over the Marlins. After retiring Mike Mordecai for the first out of the frame, Juan Pierre doubled to left field, bringing Luis Castillo to the plate. Castillo lofted a high popup in foul territory down the left-field line. Chicago left fielder Moises Alou drifted toward the stands and leaped for a catch. Bartman, who was sitting in the first row where the ball was headed, reached up and deflected the ball. From that point, aided by an Alex Gonzalez error on a play that might have resulted in an inning-ending double play, Florida scored eight times en route to forcing Game 7. The Marlins won the pennant, and then the World Series over the Yankees.

Video: Jeffrey Maier remembers catching Jeter's home run

Jeffrey Maier catches Derek Jeter home run, 1996 ALCS Game 1
With the Yankees trailing the Orioles in the eighth inning, 4-3, Jeter lofted a fly ball to deep right field at Yankee Stadium. Right fielder Tony Tarasco got back to the wall and reached up, but 12-year-old Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier caught the ball before it could potentially land in Tarasco's glove for the second out of the inning. Tarasco immediately pointed up to the stands to argue fan interference, but it was ruled a game-tying home run for New York. The Yankees would win the game on a Bernie Williams walk-off homer in the 11th. From there, New York went on to win the AL pennant and the first of four World Series titles from 1996-2000.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Postseason Picture: Sox, Dodgers one win from WS

MLB.com

Behind more heroics from Jackie Bradley Jr., who came through with yet another clutch two-out home run, and an incredible game-saving catch by Andrew Benintendi to end the game, the Red Sox are one victory away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2013. Bradley's two-run shot in the sixth inning put Boston ahead, 6-5, and the Sox never looked back en route to an 8-6 win over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are also on the cusp of advancing to the World Series for the second consecutive year after getting a masterful performance from Clayton Kershaw in a 5-2 victory over the Brewers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium. Kershaw tossed seven dominant innings, yielding one run on three hits while walking two and striking out nine. Los Angeles scored twice in the sixth to break a 1-1 tie, and twice again in the seventh to put the game away. The series shifts to Milwaukee for Game 6 on Friday.

Behind more heroics from Jackie Bradley Jr., who came through with yet another clutch two-out home run, and an incredible game-saving catch by Andrew Benintendi to end the game, the Red Sox are one victory away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2013. Bradley's two-run shot in the sixth inning put Boston ahead, 6-5, and the Sox never looked back en route to an 8-6 win over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are also on the cusp of advancing to the World Series for the second consecutive year after getting a masterful performance from Clayton Kershaw in a 5-2 victory over the Brewers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium. Kershaw tossed seven dominant innings, yielding one run on three hits while walking two and striking out nine. Los Angeles scored twice in the sixth to break a 1-1 tie, and twice again in the seventh to put the game away. The series shifts to Milwaukee for Game 6 on Friday.

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

AL Championship Series (2-3-2 format): Red Sox vs. Astros (BOS leads, 3-1)
Game 5, Thursday at 8:09 p.m. ET on TBS

As they head into Game 5 with the AL pennant in their sights, the Red Sox won't have ace Chris Sale on the mound, as his start was pushed back to Game 6, if necessary, while he continues to recover from a stomach ailment that hospitalized him on Sunday and Monday.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Bradley Jr. drills a go-ahead homer on TBS

Boston will give the ball to David Price on short rest. The left-hander struggled in his first postseason outing this October, giving up three runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Yankees in ALDS Game 2. But he battled against a tough Houston lineup in ALCS Game 2, giving up four runs over 4 2/3 innings on 80 pitches during last Sunday's Red Sox win at Fenway Park. The former AL Cy Young Award winner will try to pitch his club into the World Series, which he hasn't pitched in since 2008 with the Rays.

Facing elimination, the Astros will turn to ace Justin Verlander, who limited Boston's offense to two runs over six innings in Houston's 7-2 victory in Game 1. In two starts this postseason (also ALDS Game 1 against the Indians), he has a 3.18 ERA. Verlander was the Most Valuable Player of last year's ALCS, and the Astros will look to the former AL Cy Young Award winner to put them in position to force a Game 6 in Boston.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Benintendi makes superb diving grab for win

NL Championship Series (2-3-2 format): Dodgers vs. Brewers (LAD leads, 3-2)
Game 6, Friday at 8:39 p.m. ET, FS1

The Dodgers got a vintage Kershaw start on Wednesday, while the Brewers got some needed length out of reliever Brandon Woodruff, who struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings after Counsell removed Wade Miley following the first batter he faced. That was important for both teams after the 13-inning Game 4, in which the Dodgers used nine pitchers and the Brewers used seven, including Josh Hader for a second straight game. 

But three times through the Dodgers lineup was one too many for Woodruff, who was first tagged by Austin Barnes for a game-tying single in the fifth inning before Max Muncy's go-ahead single knocked him out of the game in the sixth.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Muncy gives Dodgers lead with single in 6th

Miley will start again for Milwaukee in Friday's Game 6 at Miller Park. Miley, who threw 5 2/3 shutout innings in Game 2, will be the first to start consecutive games in the same postseason series since George Earnshaw of the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1930 World Series, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Given that Miley only threw five pitches on Wednesday, it can almost be seen as akin to a bullpen session between starts, which would mean that he would essentially be on regular rest for his Game 6 start.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Miley walks Bellinger, lifted in the 1st

The Dodgers have had Hyun-Jin Ryu lined up to start Game 6, but almost needed to use him in relief towards the end of Game 4. Thanks to Cody Bellinger's walk-off single, Ryu will be available to start as scheduled with Los Angeles on the cusp of a pennant. The big left-hander started Game 2, when he allowed a homer to Orlando Arcia and was charged with two runs in 4 1/3 innings. The Dodgers have won both of his starts this postseason.

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.

World Series presented by YouTube TV (2-3-2 format)
Game 1 is Tuesday 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)

Andrew Benintendi's catch made David Price very excited and WEEI's Joe Castiglione fall out of his chair

By the time you read this, the Red Sox will have held on for a thrilling 8-6 win over the Astros in Game 4 of the ALCS on Wednesday night to pull to within one win of the American League pennant. 

That they did so, however, rests largely on the efforts of outfielder Andrew Benintendi. With Houston's Alex Bregman up with the bases loaded in the ninth against Craig Kimbrel, any number of dramatic things could have happened. But the only thing that did happen was something Red Sox fans will likely talk about for ages. 

Yasiel Puig threw his hands in the air and yelled to the Dodgers' dugout after hitting an RBI single

Yasiel Puig's on-field demeanor neither has, nor will be, described as stoic. Even in Spring Training, he has fun on the field and is not afraid to let it show. 

But in the postseason, Puig brings his energy to another level entirely. So, when he hit an RBI single in the sixth inning of Wednesday's NLCS Game 5 to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead, he flipped his bat and reveled in the moment all the way up the first-base line.

Cora: Sale needs more time, will start Game 6

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

HOUSTON -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale will pitch Game 6 of the American League Championship Series (if necessary) on Saturday night at Fenway Park instead of his originally scheduled turn in Game 5 at Minute Maid Park on Thursday.

The reason is the stomach illness that hospitalized Sale on Sunday and Monday, and led to him still feeling weak on Wednesday, a day after he rejoined his teammates.

View Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale will pitch Game 6 of the American League Championship Series (if necessary) on Saturday night at Fenway Park instead of his originally scheduled turn in Game 5 at Minute Maid Park on Thursday.

The reason is the stomach illness that hospitalized Sale on Sunday and Monday, and led to him still feeling weak on Wednesday, a day after he rejoined his teammates.

View Full Game Coverage

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

"Yeah, he's not going to throw a bullpen today, probably tomorrow [instead]," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "He feels weak. He actually lost weight, which is hard to believe. We talked about it, he said he needed an extra day -- obviously two. He'll pitch Game 6."

The Red Sox will see how they get through Wednesday's Game 4 b