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ALCS G5: Moreland starting; Correa at cleanup

MLB.com

HOUSTON -- The Astros' backs are against the wall. The Red Sox are one win away from the World Series.

Coming off a thrilling 8-6 win in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, the Red Sox will look to David Price to try to punch their ticket to the Fall Classic in Thursday's Game 5 at Minute Maid Park.

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HOUSTON -- The Astros' backs are against the wall. The Red Sox are one win away from the World Series.

Coming off a thrilling 8-6 win in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, the Red Sox will look to David Price to try to punch their ticket to the Fall Classic in Thursday's Game 5 at Minute Maid Park.

View Full Game Coverage

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

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

It won't be easy. The Astros, who won three elimination games in the playoffs last year en route to their first World Series title, are throwing ace Justin Verlander in a matchup of former AL Cy Young Award winners. 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).

Gear up for the ALCS: Astros | Red Sox

Starting lineups
Red Sox: The Astros are learning why the Sox had the game's most balanced offense during the regular season. Boston has scored seven runs or more in the past three games, the first time Houston has allowed that many in three straight games all season. First baseman Mitch Moreland will make his first start since he injured his right hamstring in Game 2 of the AL Division Series.

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

Astros: Manager AJ Hinch said prior to Game 4 that Jose Altuve would be back at second base in Game 5 of the ALCS after two games at DH, but Altuve appeared to aggravate his sore right knee sliding into second base and will remain as the DH.

"We're all watching the same guy. I love him for what he's doing and it's really amazing what he's doing," Hinch said. "He's kept it very private, to himself. I don't feel like he can play second base right now. ... He's playing on one leg. Some of our other guys are banged up as well. Jose is the most obviously. If this were the regular season, there's no way he'd be playing."

With Altuve DHing, Tony Kemp will be in left again and Marwin Gonzalez is at second base. In addition, Carlos Correa will be in the cleanup spot after hitting mostly in the seventh spot in the postseason.

1. Alex Bregman, 3B
2. George Springer, RF
3. Jose Altuve, DH
4. Carlos Correa, SS
4. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
5. Marwin Gonzalez, 2B
7. Tony Kemp, LF
8. Martin Maldonado, C
9. Jake Marisnick, CF

Who are the starting pitchers?
Red Sox: This would be a fine time for Price to earn the first postseason win of his career as a starter. It will be interesting to see how the lefty fares on three days' rest, particularly when he spent quite a bit of time warming up in the bullpen in the late stages of Game 4.

"I think it will just make me a little more sharp," Price said. "It might be a new thing for me to do the day before I pitch."

In 11 career postseason starts, Price is 0-9 with a 6.16 ERA. This would be the ultimate chance for Price to get some playoff redemption, with a trip to the World Series serving as the ultimate reward.

Video: ALCS Gm5: Price, Verlander face off in crucial Game 5

"We're one win away from the World Series. That's cool. That's very cool," Price said.

Astros: Verlander held the Red Sox to two hits and two runs, overcoming four walks, while striking out six batters in six innings in a Game 1 win over the Red Sox. That was the 13th career playoff victory for Verlander, trailing only Tom Glavine (14), John Smoltz (15) and Andy Pettitte (19).

Not to mention, Verlander has been sensational with his back to the wall. In five potential elimination-game starts, Verlander has gone 4-1 with a 1.21 ERA, fanning 41 in 37 1/3 innings. In his past three starts under those circumstances, Verlander has been particularly outstanding, tossing 24 scoreless innings.

"There are definitely unique challenges," Verlander said. "They know my strengths. They know my weaknesses. I know theirs. And the second time going against a lineup, you need to adjust. Or you don't. I don't know. That's kind of one of those times when I like to rely on my instincts when I'm out there and just feel my way through a game."

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Red Sox: Manager Alex Cora asked a lot of his bullpen in the previous three games, and it will be interesting to see how he manages Game 5. The score will have a lot to do with it. If the Red Sox fall behind early, look for Cora to go with his low-leverage pitchers after Price. Closer Craig Kimbrel is 4-for-4 in save opportunities this postseason, but each one has been an adventure. The Sox did ask key setup man Matt Barnes to get just one out in Game 4, so he will be a good option if Boston is in the lead.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Kimbrel seals win with Benintendi's help

Astros: Houston used five relief pitchers in Game 4, with Josh James (51) and Lance McCullers Jr. (33) topping 30 pitches. Hinch didn't use closer Roberto Osuna, who should be ready to go, and even Ryan Pressly and McCullers will take the ball in an elimination game if needed. Starter Gerrit Cole was in the bullpen near the the end of Game 4 as well.

Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Red Sox: Kimbrel threw 35 pitches in Game 4, but says he will do whatever Cora needs in Game 5. Cora might decide to play it safe with a 3-1 lead in the series. Ryan Brasier faced seven batters and threw 23 pitches, so he is another reliever Cora might stay away from.

Astros: James threw 3 2/3 innings in relief in Game 4, meaning he's out for Game 5 unless there's an emergency. That leaves the Astros with no viable options to throw more than two innings if that situation arises.

Any injuries of note?
Red Sox: Eduardo Nunez has been bothered by a troublesome right ankle, but he could be used as a pinch-hitter against lefty reliever Tony Sipp.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Altuve checked by trainer after long double

Astros: Altuve aggravated his sore right knee sliding into second base in the third inning of Game 4 and ran gingerly the rest of the game. He's going to play, though, but the question remains whether he'll be in the lineup at second base or designated hitter.

"He's hurting," Hinch said. "I'm watching him do his best and he's a tough kid. And he's giving us everything that he's got, but he's hurting."

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

Who is hot and who is not?
Red Sox: Bradley is on an RBI binge, with nine in the series. Interestingly, the RBIs have come on his only three hits of the series … Benintendi, who made a magnificent catch to end Game 4, also had two doubles in the contest and could be on the verge of getting hot … Devers is 4-for-9 and had a key two-run single in Game 4 ... Sandy Leon continues to be in a slump of epic proportions, with three hits in his last 49 at-bats. This is why he probably won't start, even though Price enjoys working with him.

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

Astros: Springer, who's hitting .412 in the ALCS with 13 total bases, has a 13-game postseason hitting streak. … Bregman has reached base safely 11 times in four games of the ALCS with two hits, seven walks and two hit-by-pitches. He has a .550 on-base percentage. … Correa is hitting .400 (6-for-15) in the ALCS. … Kemp is hitting .375 in the ALCS. … Among those struggling at the plate are Gurriel (.176), Maldonado (.111), Reddick (.200) and White (.000).

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

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

Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros

Top 10 thrills from Sox-Astros instant classic

From dazzling defense to a HR controversy, Game 4 has it all
MLB.com @RichardJustice

HOUSTON -- You will never watch a better baseball game, and isn't that the bottom line? Sometimes, this sport -- particularly this sport in October -- delivers something so good we need a day or two to roll it around in our hearts and minds and appreciate what we've just witnessed.

The Red Sox and Astros played this one like a Game 7 because, all things considered, it may end up being almost that important. We may look back a few days from now and see that the American League Championship Series was decided on Wednesday night.

View Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- You will never watch a better baseball game, and isn't that the bottom line? Sometimes, this sport -- particularly this sport in October -- delivers something so good we need a day or two to roll it around in our hearts and minds and appreciate what we've just witnessed.

The Red Sox and Astros played this one like a Game 7 because, all things considered, it may end up being almost that important. We may look back a few days from now and see that the American League Championship Series was decided on Wednesday night.

View Full Game Coverage

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

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

That's why at-bats were tense and long, and a line of relievers -- 10 in all -- paraded in from both bullpens. Plays that were made -- and plenty that weren't -- will gnaw through the offseason.

So hats off to the Red Sox, who twice came from behind and then held on for dear life at the end to beat the Astros, 8-6, in Game 4 of the ALCS at Minute Maid Park.

Boston leads the best-of-seven series, 3-1, and is one victory from its 14th AL pennant. Don't turn out the lights just yet. Boston's pitching has been pushed to the limit -- David Price will start Game 5 on short rest tonight -- and the Astros have aces Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole lined up for Games 5 and 6.

Postseason gear: Red Sox | Astros

First, though, let's appreciate Game 4 for all its spectacular moments and captivating theater with 10 plays that helped make it an instant classic:

1. Andrew Benintendi flies through the air
This game ended the only way it could: with the Red Sox left fielder making a sweet diving catch of an Alex Bregman liner with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. How perfect is that? Had he not come up with the ball, the Astros probably win, and the ALCS looks completely different. On an evening when bodies flew here, there and everywhere, flipping over rails, diving across foul lines, when both teams did themselves proud, Benintendi saved the best for last. If you hear a rumor that Red Sox radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione got so excited he fell out of his seat, you didn't hear it here.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Statcast™ measures Benny's game-ending catch

2. Jose Altuve's home run that wasn't
The Astros second baseman hit a ball just over the wall in right field with a runner on base in the bottom of the first inning. Home run, right? Hey, it's complicated. As Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts leaped near the wall in an attempt to steal the home run, his glove appeared to come into contact with at least a couple of fans. Umpire Joe West believed Betts would have caught the ball if not for the fans and ruled fan interference. A replay review supported his call. The Astros did not agree. More >>

Video: Must C Curious: Altuve out on fan interference

3. Mookie Betts, Gold Glover
Don't run on Mookie. Those two Gold Gloves should be a reminder of that. Astros outfielder Tony Kemp learned that lesson when he led off the bottom of the eighth with a single to right and attempted to stretch it into a double. Betts made a laser throw to shortstop Xander Bogaerts to get Kemp. The Astros trailed by three at the time, and Betts' play probably saved the Red Sox a run.

Video: Must C Cannon: Betts nabs Kemp at second with laser

4. Steve Pearce head over heels into the dugout
No play typified the urgency of this game more than the Boston first baseman flipping over the railing and landing on his back in the Astros dugout in pursuit of a Josh Reddick foul pop in the seventh with the Red Sox leading, 7-5. He didn't get to the ball. Instead, he gave Red Sox Nation a highlight moment to appreciate. More >>

Video: ALCS Gm4: Pearce flips over into Astros' dugout

5. Jackie Bradley Jr. hits another one
The Red Sox center fielder is making October his personal stage. The Astros had just taken a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth when Bradley came to bat with a runner on base and two outs in the top of the sixth. You can guess the rest. His two-run home run gave him nine RBIs in the ALCS and the Red Sox a lead they never relinquished. More >>

Video: Bradley delivers clutch hits in Games 2-4 of ALCS

6. Reddick keeps the Astros in the game
We had so many spectacular defensive plays in this one that they started to feel routine. Reddick made a huge one with a diving grab of a Betts liner in the top of the ninth inning with the bases loaded. It cost the Red Sox at least one run and kept the Astros within striking distance for the bottom of the inning.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Reddick makes a tremendous diving catch

7. Kemp and a different kind of home run
We love home runs that are these big booming shots that rattle the glass in windows and disappear into the night air. That's not the kind the Astros left fielder hit in the bottom of the fourth inning. He looped a Rick Porcello pitch just over the wall and inside the right-field foul pole. Statcast™ clocked its exit velocity at 89.7 mph, the softest home run in the postseason since the technology arrived in 2015. Still counted. More >>

Video: ALCS Gm4: Kemp hits 89.7-mph HR down right-field line

8. Craig Kimbrel's grit
The Red Sox closer got the final six outs to do something he'd never done in his nine-year Major League career. That would be a save of more than four outs. Never mind that he has allowed a run in four straight appearances or that looks like someone who could use a couple of days to catch his breath. He helped get the Red Sox to the threshold of a dream.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Kimbrel seals win with Benintendi's help

9. Josh James and 102 mph
The former 34th-round Draft choice of the Astros burst onto the scene late in the season after blowing away hitters in the Minor Leagues. When Astros manager AJ Hinch called upon him in the top of the third inning, his first three pitches were 100.9 mph, 101.2 mph and 102.4 mph. Does that qualify as electric stuff? He's the first Astros pitcher to hit 102 mph in the pitch tracking era (2008-present). More >>

Video: ALCS Gm4: James K's Devers on 5 100-plus-mph pitches

10. Altuve is doing that Willis Reed thing
He refuses to give in to a knee injury that has left him with a pronounced limp and forced Hinch to use him as a DH. Yet he still continues to hit and hustle. He legged out a third-inning double and hit the second-base bag so hard he needed a few minutes to walk off the pain and remain in the game. He hustled home on a Reddick single moments later.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Altuve checked by trainer after long double

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, Jose Altuve, Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Josh James, Jackie Bradley Jr., Tony Kemp, Craig Kimbrel, Steve Pearce, Josh Reddick

Rumors: Realmuto, Kimbrel, Yanks, Phils

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 

Will Realmuto be with Marlins in 2019?
Oct. 18: J.T. Realmuto's future with the Marlins has been a persistent storyline since the club began its rebuild by dealing Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon last offseason, and that's unlikely to change during the coming months.

Realmuto, who will be 28 years old on Opening Day in 2019, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining, and as MLB.com's Joe Frisaro notes, the Marlins will likely need to present him with a path to contention within that timeframe to convince him to sign a long-term deal.

According to Frisaro, the Marlins will try to do that this winter but are also expected to explore trade scenarios for the backstop to keep their options open.

Realmuto made the All-Star team for the first time in 2018, hitting .277 with a personal-best 21 homers, 74 RBIs and .825 OPS. He also posted a 38 percent caught-stealing rate -- 10 percentage points above the MLB average -- and allowed just eight passed balls in 951 innings behind the plate.

The Nationals, Astros, Phillies, Red Sox, A's and Rockies are among the contenders that could be in the market for a catcher, though the Marlins' asking price will likely remain lofty. More >

Kimbrel's postseason struggles continue in ALCS Game 4
Oct. 18: The Red Sox may have won ALCS Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead over the Astros in the series, but it took a spectacular diving catch from left fielder Andrew Benintendi after closer Craig Kimbrel once again put Boston in a precarious situation.

Kimbrel entered in the eighth inning for a six-out save and allowed a run, as Houston cut its deficit to 8-6. The right-hander then walked the bases loaded in the ninth inning before Benintendi corralled Alex Bregman's line drive to end the game.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Kimbrel on struggles, closing out Game 4

Although he is 4-for-4 in save chances, Kimbrel has allowed at least one run in each of his four postseason appearances while yielding six hits, five walks and two hit batsmen in 5 1/3 innings. As Kimbrel continues to struggle on a big stage, it's fair to wonder how much he is hurting his stock with free agency upcoming after the season.

Kimbrel has long been one of the most dominant closers in baseball, and he had another strong campaign in the 2018 regular season. However, he also showed some signs of regression, posting a career-high 3.13 FIP with a 3.1 K/BB ratio (1.42 FIP, 9.0 K/BB ratio in '17).

Recent history may also give teams pause when it comes to the size of Kimbrel's next contract, as the lucrative deals given to big-name closers such as Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, Wade Davis and Mark Melancon in the past few offseasons haven't gone as well as the signing clubs likely hoped they would.

Still, most teams will likely view Kimbrel as the best available option among the free agents with closing experience, and given the ever-growing importance of relievers in today's game, there shouldn't be a shortage of clubs interested in his services.

Yankees expected to pursue Machado after Gregorius undergoes Tommy John surgery
Oct. 18: With Didi Gregorius recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the shortstop position is now an unexpected question mark for the Yankees. The speculation, of course, is that Gregorius' injury may only increase the Yankees' interest in impending free agent Manny Machado, who was already expected to be on the club's offseason radar as a potential option at third base.

And as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman notes in an article for Fancred Sports, there's good reason for that speculation. New York has tried to land Machado before, and Machado's interest in joining the Yankees was documented back in August, when Heyman reported that people close to the slugger were suggesting that the club was his first choice in free agency.

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

And while Machado's lack of hustle has been a topic of conversation during the postseason, teams may be willing to overlook that problem given his immense talent.

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

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

Granted, the rotation is arguably a greater area of need than the offense, with Luis Severino struggling in the second half and CC Sabathia, J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn hitting free agency. Adding a starter such as left-hander Patrick Corbin, who is expected to be one of the Yankees' free-agent targets, according to another report from Heyman, may be the club's top priority.

But as Heyman points out, the Yankees could be in position to sign multiple top free agents, considering they won't be subject to the luxury-tax repeat-offender penalty after staying under the threshold in 2018.

Phillies set to make run at Machado, Harper
Oct. 18: Will Manny Machado and Bryce Harper join forces in Philadelphia? According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an appearance on "The Rundown" on Thursday, the Phillies are prepared to pursue both players, and many expect them to come away with at least one.

"People around baseball are going to be surprised if [the Phillies] don't get at least one of these two players, and maybe both," Heyman said.

Heyman had a similar report back in September, writing for Fancred Sports that multiple rival executives believed that the Phillies could land both superstars.

However, as Heyman pointed out Thursday, it could ultimately be tough for any team to pull that off, as both players are looking to break the bank in free agency. Furthermore, any club looking to sign either player will have plenty of competition.

Video: Heyman on Mariners, Phillies free agent rumors

Nats planning to make strong effort to retain Harper
Oct. 18: As fan bases and front offices around the Majors dream of having Bryce Harper in the fold next season, the only team Harper has ever played for is holding out hope that the impending free agent will be back.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for Fancred Sports, the Nationals plan to make a strong effort to retain Harper this offseason, though they are also formulating an alternative plan in case he opts to sign elsewhere.

This comes after Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reported last week that the consensus within the Nats organization is that the club does not want to eclipse the competitive balance tax threshold after doing so in each of the past two seasons.

If Harper is signed for roughly $30 million annually, it could considerably hinder the Nationals' ability to address other needs on the roster. However, it doesn't sound like that will prevent Washington from making a major push to re-sign its homegrown star.

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.

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."

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.

Utley weighs in on Machado's 'villain' role

Veteran infielder believes Machado can thrive despite potential distractions
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

LOS ANGELES -- Chase Utley is one of the very few people in baseball who knows what Manny Machado might feel on Friday when he steps onto the field at Miller Park for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

Utley has been the villain, too.

LOS ANGELES -- Chase Utley is one of the very few people in baseball who knows what Manny Machado might feel on Friday when he steps onto the field at Miller Park for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

Utley has been the villain, too.

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

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

Utley famously took out Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada on a hard slide into second base in Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS at Dodger Stadium. The play broke Tejada's leg. The controversy surrounding it prompted Major League Baseball to create a rule to better protect infielders. It became known as the Chase Utley Rule. But in the immediate aftermath of an emotionally charged series, New York fans wanted retribution. Utley expected that. He expected to be booed when the series moved to Citi Field in Queens for Games 3 and 4.

Utley did not, however, expect death threats against his family.

"I mean, from a personal perspective, it was not the best of times," Utley said on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. "I'm all for the home team booing the opposing player and giving him a hard time. But not when it extends past the baseball field, when it gets a little out of hand."

Machado is likely to be booed following an altercation with Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar in Game 4, but the vitriol from Crew fans is unlikely to match the levels in New York. Machado dragged his left leg over Aguilar's right leg on a play at first base. It appeared intentional. Aguilar and Machado exchanged words. Benches and bullpens cleared, but nobody threw punches and nobody got hurt.

Aguilar and Machado later appeared to patch things up.

Still, Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich afterward called it a "dirty play by a dirty player." He then dropped a couple expletives, making his feelings about Machado perfectly clear. Some of Yelich's teammates seem to feel the same way.

Machado essentially has shrugged his shoulders about the entire incident. He never apologized. In fact, he does not think he did anything wrong. If he is going to join Utley, Nyjer Morgan (remember "Alberta" Pujols in the 2011 NLCS?) and Roger Clemens (who chucked a broken bat toward Mike Piazza in the '00 World Series) and others as postseason villains, he seems perfectly fine with it.

Video: Must C Collision: Utley's hard slide injures Tejada

"I mean, I'm expecting to go out there and win," Machado said, asked if he expects to be booed in Milwaukee. "That's what I'm expecting."

Do boos bother Machado?

"I'm expecting to go win," Machado repeated. "I want to go win. I've got one more game to win to get where we want to go."

The boos never bothered Utley.

Video: LAD@NYM Gm3: Utley booed, Tejada cheered in intros

"They were loud," Utley said. "But to be honest with you, I was kind of used to that playing in New York so often, the rivalry that [the Phillies] had with the Mets. So from that aspect, it was similar. You try to tune out as much as you can and focus on whatever you're doing on the field. As a big leaguer, I think what separates the men from the boys are the guys that can tune that out."

Utley expects Machado to be just fine in front of Wisconsin's finest. Who knows? Maybe they motivate him.

Video: NLCS Gm4: Machado on altercation with Aguilar

"I think anytime you can quiet the crowd, it makes you feel good," Utley said. "I would imagine it will be status quo. He'll go about his business the same way. Obviously, he's had a lot of attention even prior to this, just because of the type of player he is. He's a talented player. I don't think it'll be a distraction."

So what did Utley think about Machado's run-in with Aguilar?

"I didn't talk to him about it, but I mean, I don't care, honestly," Utley said. "Nothing bothers me, really."

Machado seems to feel the same way, too.

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

Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Machado, Chase Utley

Nats set to make strong push to retain Harper

MLB.com

After a seven-season tenure with the Nationals that included a National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, an NL MVP Award in 2015 and six All-Star nods, Bryce Harper is set to become a free agent for the first time.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the outfielder.

After a seven-season tenure with the Nationals that included a National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, an NL MVP Award in 2015 and six All-Star nods, Bryce Harper is set to become a free agent for the first time.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the outfielder.

Nats planning to make strong effort to retain Harper
Oct. 18: As fan bases and front offices around the Majors dream of having Bryce Harper in the fold next season, the only team Harper has ever played for is holding out hope that the impending free agent will be back.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for Fancred Sports, the Nationals plan to make a strong effort to retain Harper this offseason, though they are also formulating an alternative plan in case he opts to sign elsewhere.

This comes after Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reported last week that the consensus within the Nats organization is that the club does not want to eclipse the competitive balance tax threshold after doing so in each of the past two seasons.

If Harper is signed for roughly $30 million annually, it could considerably hinder the Nationals' ability to address other needs on the roster. However, it doesn't sound like that will prevent Washington from making a major push to re-sign its homegrown star.

Phillies set to make run at Harper, Machado
Oct. 18: Will Bryce Harper and Manny Machado join forces in Philadelphia? According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an appearance on "The Rundown" on Thursday, the Phillies are prepared to pursue both players, and many expect them to come away with at least one.

"People around baseball are going to be surprised if [the Phillies] don't get at least one of these two players, and maybe both," Heyman said.

Heyman had a similar report back in September, writing for Fancred Sports that multiple rival executives believed that the Phillies could land both superstars.

However, as Heyman pointed out Thursday, it could ultimately be tough for any team to pull that off, as both players are looking to break the bank in free agency. Furthermore, any club looking to sign either player will have plenty of competition.

Video: Heyman on Mariners, Phillies free agent rumors

Will Yankees chase Harper, Machado in effort to catch up to Red Sox?
Oct. 11: After spending much of the season chasing the Red Sox in the American League East and then losing to Boston in the ALDS, the Yankees will be looking to close the gap with their offseason moves.

One way they could do it? A spending spree that results in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado wearing pinstripes, as Newsday's Anthony Rieber wrote Wednesday.

That type of plan isn't as outrageous as it sounds, especially after the Yankees stayed under the luxury-tax threshold in 2018 -- which means they won't be subject to the repeat-offender penalty next season. Without that restriction, the Yankees will likely look to significantly increase their payroll.

Of course, the rotation is arguably a greater area of need for New York than the offense, with Luis Severino struggling in the second half and CC Sabathia, J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn hitting free agency. Adding a starter such as Patrick Corbin, who is expected to be one of the Yankees' free-agent targets, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, may be the club's top priority.

Rizzo: Harper 'in our plans' for future
Sept. 30: Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo confirmed Sunday before the season finale that the club wants impending free agent Bryce Harper back.

"Of course he's in our plans," Rizzo said. "He's a guy we would love to have. He's a part of our family. He's a big part of this roster, performance-wise. Like I've always said with these type of deals, you're not betting on the baseball player, you're betting on the person. He's a person we'd like to have with us."

Rizzo's comments came in response to Harper saying he would "absolutely love to be" with the Nats long term, provided the club was interested in re-signing him.

"Am I in the [Nationals'] plans, you know? I don't know," Harper said. "It's hard to think about ... It's like, 'Well, it could all be over in a second.' It's kind of crazy.

"I've always said, 'If I'm in those plans, I'd absolutely love to be here.' But if I'm not, there's nothing I can do about it. There's nothing I can do. I would love to play next to Victor Robles or Juan Soto or Adam Eaton. I'd love to. But am I in those plans? I have no idea." More >

Harper expresses desire to remain with Nats
Sept. 25: As Bryce Harper prepares to become a free agent for the first time this offseason, the outfielder told the Washington Post that he would "absolutely love to be" in Washington long term.

"I think about other cities, but I love it here," Harper said.

"When I talk about D.C., I get giddy. I get happy. Because it's me. It's what I know," Harper said. "I don't know anything else. I don't know what it feels like to play for the Dodgers. I don't know what it feels like to play for the Yankees. I don't know what it feels like to play for anybody that you look at." More >

These teams came back from 3-1 deficits

13 teams have reeled off three straight wins to buck the odds
MLB.com

There are few things more imposing for a team than being down three games to one in a seven-game series, but it can also be freeing. Once a club is backed into that corner, the pressure's off; either it wins three games in a row or it tips its cap and goes home for a long winter.

That's the situation the defending champions, the Astros, find themselves in heading into Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. They'll turn to Justin Verlander at home to force a return trip to Boston this weekend for Game 6 and, they hope, Game 7.

There are few things more imposing for a team than being down three games to one in a seven-game series, but it can also be freeing. Once a club is backed into that corner, the pressure's off; either it wins three games in a row or it tips its cap and goes home for a long winter.

That's the situation the defending champions, the Astros, find themselves in heading into Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. They'll turn to Justin Verlander at home to force a return trip to Boston this weekend for Game 6 and, they hope, Game 7.

The odds are against the slow starters: Through 2017, only 13 teams out of 84 had come back to win a best-of-seven series after dropping three of the first four contests. Here's a look at each of those 13 "miracle" clubs and how they came all the way back to win. 

2016 World Series: Cubs over Indians
Cleveland was familiar with 3-1 deficits, having seen Lebron James and the NBA's Cavaliers come back from a 3-1 hole against the Warriors just a few months prior. But Ohioans would see their club fall on the other side this time around, thanks to a Cubs team that was desperate to end a 108-year championship drought.

Kris Bryant, as he did throughout the '16 postseason, came up clutch with a homer to wake up the Wrigley Field crowd in Game 5, and Addison Russell's grand slam in Game 6 sent the series to a decisive winner-take-all. Then, in one of the most memorable Fall Classic contests ever, the Cubs withstood Rajai Davis' dramatic two-run homer off Aroldis Chapman -- and a momentous rain delay -- to pull ahead on Ben Zobrist's 10th-inning RBI double. Mike Montgomery closed out the bottom half, and the "Curse of the Billy Goat" was finally over.

Video: NLCS Gm7: Romo gets popup, sends Giants to Series

2012 NLCS: Giants over Cardinals
Not only did the Giants come back in this series; they did so with authority. After winning their final three games on the road to defeat the Reds in the NLDS, San Francisco outscored St. Louis 20-1 over the final three contests to punch its second World Series ticket in three years. A resurgent Barry Zito pitched into the eighth in Game 5, and Ryan Vogelsong struck out nine in Game 6. Series MVP Marco Scutaro notched three hits in the finale to help San Francisco seal the franchise's first-ever victory in a winner-take-all Game 7.

Video: Red Sox topped Indians in memorable 2007 ALCS

2007 ALCS: Red Sox over Indians
Boston looked to be in fine shape after rocking AL Cy Young winner CC Sabathia in Game 1, but the Tribe stormed back for three straight victories to get Cleveland riled up for its first Fall Classic appearance in a decade. The Indians played the All-American Rejects' hit song "It Ends Tonight" over the loudspeakers before Game 5, but the Red Sox had other ideas. Josh Beckett dominated with 11 strikeouts to send the series back to Fenway Park, where J.D. Drew hit a grand slam to spur Boston to a 12-2 rout in Game 6. Red Sox employees played "It Ends Tonight" again before Game 7, and the home club ended things decisively, 11-2, to punch its second World Series ticket in four years.

Video: 2004 ALCS Gm 4: Roberts' steal sparks epic comeback

2004 ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
Eighty-six years of Bambino-sized baggage was wiped away over four magical nights in October, starting with Dave Roberts' daring steal and David Ortiz's walk-off homer in Game 4. Ortiz delivered again in a 14-inning marathon the following night to make the Fenway faithful believe, and Curt Schilling's "bloody sock" performance in Game 6 in the Bronx made him a folk hero in Boston. Johnny Damon's Game 7 grand slam seemed to lift whatever burden was left from the Red Sox's shoulders, as the self-proclaimed "idiots" became the first team to erase a 3-0 postseason deficit before sweeping the Cardinals for Boston's first championship since 1918.

Video: #WeKnowPostseason: Looking back on the 2003 NLCS

2003 NLCS: Marlins over Cubs
Steve Bartman will always be the symbol of this heart-breaking series for the Cubs, but the North Siders had plenty of other chances to claim their first NL pennant since 1945. Beckett, the Marlins' emerging ace, twirled a two-hit shutout in Game 5, and Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez's error after Bartman's fateful reach helped the Marlins tie (and eventually win) Game 6. Chicago even held a 5-3 lead through four innings of Game 7, but could not hold on as Florida prevailed despite being outscored by two runs in the series.

1996 NLCS: Braves over Cardinals
The Braves' 1990s run was one of the most dominant by any team, but this series represented one of Atlanta's toughest tests. St. Louis was able to break through against Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine to win three of the first four contests, but -- like the Giants did in 2012 -- the Braves absolutely surged over the Cardinals once their backs were against the wall. Atlanta's three-headed monster of John Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine returned to form, but they didn't need to do all that much as Braves hitters ambushed St. Louis pitchers and outscored the Cardinals 32-1 over their last three victories.

Video: 1986 ALCS Gm5: Henderson's series-changing homer

1986 ALCS: Red Sox over Angels
Fatalism was near its peak in Boston when the "cursed" Red Sox quickly fell behind the Halos and appeared on the verge of another postseason exit. The Angels were within one strike of their first pennant in Game 5 before Red Sox center fielder Dave Henderson blasted a dramatic go-ahead grand slam, setting up an eventual 7-6 win in 11 innings. Given new life, Boston pulled away in the final two contests at Fenway Park before heartbreak struck again on a famous grounder through Bill Buckner's legs in Game 6 of the World Series.

Video: WS1985 Gm6: Denkinger calls Orta safe at first base

1985 World Series: Royals over Cardinals
Kansas City epitomized the phrase "never say die" in '85, overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the ALCS before doing it again on the biggest stage. The Royals outscored the Cardinals 28-13 in this series, but still needed a controversial call from umpire Don Denkinger to squeak out a 2-1 win in Game 6 and stay alive. K.C. capitalized on its good fortune with an 11-0 blowout of the Cardinals in Game 7, with ace Bret Saberhagen twirling a five-hit shutout to seal the franchise's first World Series championship.

1985 ALCS: Royals over Blue Jays
As mentioned, this Royals club really was a team of destiny. Kansas City took full advantage of the first year of the best-of-seven LCS format, starting with Danny Jackson's eight-hit shutout in a must-win Game 5. George Brett hit his third homer of the series to power the Royals to a 5-3 win in Game 6, and the star trio of Saberhagen, Charlie Leibrandt and Dan Quisenberry helped K.C. close out Game 7 at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium.

Video: PIT@BAL: Stargell helps Pirates win World Series

1979 World Series: Pirates over Orioles
The '79 "We Are Family" Pirates were probably one of the loosest World Series champions, with captain Willie Stargell leading a big comeback over a supremely talented Orioles squad. Stargell hit an even .400 with three homers -- including a crucial dinger late in Game 7 -- to become the first player to capture the regular season, NLCS and World Series MVP Awards all in the same season. Pirates pitchers held Baltimore to two total runs over the last three games as Pittsburgh earned its second seven-game World Series triumph over the Orioles in a span of nine years.

Video: WS1968 Gm7: Tigers win the World Series

1968 World Series: Tigers over Cardinals
If you like vintage pitching performances, this series is for you. Bob Gibson outdueled Denny McLain, baseball's last 30-game winner, in Games 1 and 4 to put St. Louis on the verge of a second straight title, but Mickey Lolich stemmed the tide with his second win of the series in Game 5 in Detroit. McLain came back on two days' rest to nearly twirl a shutout in the Tigers' 13-1 rout in Game 6, setting up a dream winner-take-all matchup between Gibson and Lolich in St. Louis. The aces traded zeroes for six frames before Jim Northrup hit a two-run triple over Curt Flood's head in center field, and that was all Lolich -- also pitching on two days' rest -- would need in Detroit's 4-1 win.

1958 World Series: Yankees over Braves
Hank Aaron and the Braves shocked the Yankees with a seven-game triumph in '57, and came oh so close to doing it again the following autumn. Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette -- who beat the Yankees three times in '57 -- combined for victories in three of the first four games, but the Yankees finally solved Burdette with six runs off the righty to stay alive in Game 5. Spahn went into the 10th inning in Game 6 before giving up a pair of runs, and Braves pinch-hitter Frank Torre lined out to end the game with Aaron representing the tying run at third base. That was the break the Yankees needed, as Bob Turley pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball in relief and the pinstripes beat Burdette again, 6-2, in Game 7 in Milwaukee.

1925 World Series: Pirates over Senators
The legendary Walter Johnson had finally claimed his first championship with a heroic Game 7 performance in '24, but his luck ran out in another Game 7 the following year. Monsoon-like rain and heavy fog created perhaps the worst playing conditions of any World Series game in history, and the Senators' two blown leads didn't do anything to boost Johnson's morale. Kiki Cuyler's eighth-inning, two-run double off Washington's ace erased an original 4-0 deficit for the Pirates, who pulled off the first 3-1 comeback in postseason history.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Best catches in postseason history

Benintendi's snag ranks among October's all-time best
MLB.com @_dadler and @DKramer_

You've seen the highlights by now: Andrew Benintendi laying out for a sensational diving catch to end Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, putting the Red Sox a win away from the World Series.

Benintendi's catch would have been amazing no matter what the circumstances. He had a catch probability of just 21 percent on the play, according to Statcast™ -- a 5-star catch, the most difficult grade a play can have. But the situation took it to a whole different level: the postseason stage ... the game situation -- ninth inning, two outs, bases loaded, an AL MVP Award candidate in Alex Bregman at the plate, and Boston clinging to a two-run lead ... plus the all-or-nothing nature of the play -- if Benintendi dove and missed, three runs would have scored and the Red Sox would have lost.

You've seen the highlights by now: Andrew Benintendi laying out for a sensational diving catch to end Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, putting the Red Sox a win away from the World Series.

Benintendi's catch would have been amazing no matter what the circumstances. He had a catch probability of just 21 percent on the play, according to Statcast™ -- a 5-star catch, the most difficult grade a play can have. But the situation took it to a whole different level: the postseason stage ... the game situation -- ninth inning, two outs, bases loaded, an AL MVP Award candidate in Alex Bregman at the plate, and Boston clinging to a two-run lead ... plus the all-or-nothing nature of the play -- if Benintendi dove and missed, three runs would have scored and the Red Sox would have lost.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Statcast™ measures Benny's game-ending catch

Benintendi is the latest in a long line of players to make incredible, memorable catches in the postseason. Here are 17 of the best catches in MLB playoff history leading up to Benintendi's.

Cody Bellinger, Dodgers: 2018 National League Championship Series Game 4
Just a day before Benintendi's catch, in the NLCS, Bellinger made a diving 5-star catch of his own during the Dodgers' 13-inning Game 4 win over the Brewers. With the game tied in the 10th, Bellinger robbed Lorenzo Cain in right-center field on a play that had a catch probability of just 17 percent. Bellinger finished the play with a swan-dive slide across the outfield grass.

Video: NLCS Gm4: Bellinger dives, makes low-probability grab

Aaron Judge, Yankees: 2017 ALCS Game 7
Judge doesn't just crush homers, he robs them, too. In the winner-take-all Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS, Judge took away a home run from the Astros' Yuli Gurriel at Minute Maid Park to keep the game scoreless in the second inning. Judge raced back to the right-field wall and got there just in time to leap above the fence and snag Gurriel's drive before it reached the seats.

Video: Must C Catch: Judge makes leaping catch at the wall

Byron Buxton, Twins: 2017 AL Wild Card Game
Buxton might be the best defensive outfielder in baseball, and in his first career postseason game he added another catch to his highlight reel. He gave up his body to make an unbelievable jumping catch to rob Todd Frazier while crashing into the center-field wall at Yankee Stadium. But he paid the price -- Buxton had to leave the game with a back injury.

Video: AL WC: Buxton exits the game after making grab

Curtis Granderson, Mets: 2016 NL Wild Card Game
The Mets have made some amazing catches in their postseason history. The most recent was Granderson's in center field in the 2016 NL Wild Card Game at Citi Field, when he went crashing into the wall after a long run to rob the Giants' Brandon Belt. Granderson's catch, with two outs in the sixth inning of a scoreless game, kept the go-ahead run off the board while Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner engaged in a pitchers' duel. He had a catch probability of just three percent, covering 102 feet in 5.5 seconds before going headlong into the wall.

Video: NL WC: Granderson covers 102 ft. for catch in center

Endy Chavez, Mets: 2006 NLCS Game 7
One of the great catches in postseason history was consigned to irrelevance thanks to Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright's late-game heroics. But at the moment Chavez made his catch, it seemed there was no way the Mets could lose. With the winner-take-all Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS tied 1-1 in the sixth inning, Scott Rolen crushed what should have been a tiebreaking two-run homer to deep left at Shea Stadium. Chavez raced back to the wall and went high over the fence to bring the home run back with a snowcone grab at the very apex of his leap. To top it all off, he fired a throw back to the infield and the Mets doubled off Jim Edmonds at first.

Video: NLCS Gm 7: Chavez makes a spectacular catch

Jim Edmonds, Cardinals: 2004 NLCS Game 7
Edmonds won eight Gold Gloves in center field, and it was because of plays like this. With the Astros leading Game 7, 1-0, Brad Ausmus drove a ball deep into left-center field that could have brought home two more. But Edmonds, at full sprint away from home plate, laid out for a full-extension catch that defied belief. The Cardinals went on to win the game and the pennant.

Video: 2004 NLCS Gm7: Edmonds' incredible run-saving catch

Paul O'Neill, Yankees: 1996 World Series Game 5
O'Neill helped kick off the late-1990s Yankees dynasty with a tough running catch in deep center field to end Game 5 of the '96 World Series against the Braves. With the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the ninth inning, O'Neill chased down Luis Polonia's long fly ball and snagged it with his arm fully outstretched, sealing a pivotal 1-0 win for the Bronx Bombers, as it gave them a 3-2 series lead. The Yanks would clinch the Fall Classic the next game and go on to win four World Series in the next five years.

Video: 1996 WS Gm5: Paul O'Neill makes a game-saving catch

Devon White, Blue Jays: 1992 World Series Game 3
This catch drew comparisons to Willie Mays' iconic play in the 1954 World Series. With two Braves runners on base in the fourth inning of a scoreless game, White sprinted straight back into deep center field and jumped into the SkyDome wall to rob the David Justice of an extra-base hit with a brilliant catch. The Blue Jays even turned it into a double play -- and nearly a triple play, but umpire Bob Davidson ruled Kelly Gruber had missed the tag on Deion Sanders.

Kirby Puckett, Twins: 1991 World Series Game 6
The Twins' 1991 World Series win was a classic full of memorable moments, and Puckett was responsible for two of them in Game 6. Eight innings before his walk-off home run in the 11th forced a Game 7, Puckett went airborne high over the wall to make a superhuman catch against the Plexiglas in left-center field at the Metrodome, robbing Ron Gant of extra bases.

Video: ATL@MIN: Gordon calls Puckett's leaping catch

Willie McGee, Cardinals: 1982 World Series Game 3
As a rookie, McGee helped put the capper on St. Louis' World Series Game 3 win with a terrific home run-robbing catch in center field in the ninth inning. If Gorman Thomas' drive had cleared the wall, the Cardinals' lead would have been cut to two. McGee had also made another great catch earlier in the game, and he'd driven the offense with two home runs -- at the time becoming just the third rookie to homer twice in a World Series game.

Video: 1982 WS Gm3: McGee makes amazing catch to rob a homer

Dwight Evans, Red Sox: 1975 World Series Game 6
Carlton Fisk's iconic walk-off home run played such an integral part in propelling baseball forward from a televised standpoint, yet it might not have manifested if it weren't for Dwight Evans' miraculous catch in deep right field the inning prior. In the 11th, with Ken Griffey Sr. on first, Joe Morgan jacked one to deep right that Evans snagged on the run. The eight-time Gold Glove Award winner then flung the ball for the double play to end the inning, and Fisk, of course, sent Fenway Park into a frenzy in the 12th. Evans won eight Gold Glove Awards for many amazing catches over his 20-year career, but he's best remembered for his heroics that night.

Video: WS Gm6: Evans makes spectacular catch in right field

Joe Rudi, A's: 1972 World Series Game 2
In one of the most closely contested World Series ever -- only one of the seven games was decided by more than one run in the A's championship run -- Rudi's rob of Denis Menke in Game 2 stands out. With a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth, Menke connected on a middle-middle fastball that looked destined to reach the bleachers, but Rudi utilized every fiber of his 6-foot-2 frame to make a leaping catch at the wall that, had he missed, would've assuredly tied the game. It's worth noting that the wall at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium stood roughly 15 feet high, meaning that had the ball ricocheted, it would've traveled well back into the outfield. And Rudi made the catch while being blinded by the sun, as the World Series was still played primarily during the day and only began playing night games the season prior.

Ron Swoboda, Mets: 1969 World Series Game 4
Tommie Agee, Mets: 1969 World Series Game 3

The 1969 Miracle Mets' World Series run had many memorable moments, but from a defensive lens, three stand out the most. In Game 4 of their five-game series win against the heavily-favored Orioles, Ron Swoboda forever linked himself with his childhood hero, Brooks Robinson, when he robbed the Hall of Famer of a would-be go-ahead hit for extra bases in the top of the ninth, sliding inward in the right-center gap against the sun to prevent two runs from scoring. Robinson did drive in a runner on third on a sacrifice to send the game to extras -- where the Mets won on an error on an attempted sacrifice bunt -- but had Swoboda come up short, the series would've likely been tied at two games apiece.

Video: '69 WS, Gm 4 BAL@NYM: Swoboda's catch preserves tie

In Game 3 -- the Mets' first at home in a World Series in club history -- the score may not have indicated a nail-biter, but Agee made two critical catches that directly saved five runs in the Mets' 5-0 win. Shaded well into right-center against pull-heavy Elrod Hendricks, Agee raced across the Shea Stadium outfield into left and made a back-handed, snowcobed grab on Hendricks' line while running into the wall. Then in the seventh, with the bases loaded with two outs for Paul Blair, Agee again made an incredible catch in the gap; this time running to his right while diving in front of the warning track and batting the wind. For good measure, Agee also hit a leadoff run homer that day.

Bobby Richardson, Yankees: 1962 World Series Game 7
The Giants may have moved to San Francisco by 1962, but their once crosstown rivalry with the Yankees remained when they met in the '62 World Series. In the first Fall Classic featured by the Bay, the Giants were on the cusp of a ninth-inning comeback in Game 7 with runners on second and third in a 1-0 game with two outs. But Willie McCovey's offensive struggles that series reached a pinnacle when he hit a bullet to second baseman Bobby Richardson to end the game.

Video: 1962 WS Gm7: Richardson robs McCovey, Yanks win

Sandy Amoros, Dodgers: 1955 World Series Game 7
The Dodgers' first World Series title may not have manifested if it weren't for their shrewd defense against the slugging Yankees, who were shut out for just the sixth time that season in Brooklyn's 2-0 win. The Yanks were threatening in the sixth with one out and runners on first and second when Yogi Berra popped one down the left-field foul line, but an athletic snag by Amoros and a cross-field throw doubled up Gil McDougald to halt any rally.

Video: WS1955 Gm7: Amoros makes catch, doubles runner off

Willie Mays, Giants: 1954 World Series Game 1
Mays' legendary grab is probably the most iconic in baseball history. Mays made what is still widely referred to as The Catch (it even has its own Wikipedia page). In a 2-2 game with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth, Mays raced back through the Polo Grounds' quirky yet cavernous outfield to make an over-the-shoulder snag that was one of the hallmark moments in their 1954 World Series sweep over the Indians.

Video: '54 WS, Gm 1: Mays' over-the-shoulder catch

Al Gionfriddo, Dodgers: 1947 World Series Game 6
Gionfriddo, a reserve outfielder for the Dodgers, entered as a defensive replacement in the sixth with Brooklyn holding an 8-5 lead over the Yankees in Game 6. The Yankees put two men on with two out and Joe DiMaggio came up as the tying run. Joltin' Joe smashed a deep fly ball to left-center that seemed sure to send the crowd of 74,000 at Yankee Stadium into a frenzy, but Gionfriddo tracked it down against the bullpen's chain-link fence to help preserve a Dodgers victory. The Yanks ultimately prevailed with a 5-2 win in Game 7.

Video: 1947 WS Gm6: Al Gionfriddo robs Joe DiMaggio of homer

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

With Didi out, Yanks expected to pursue Machado

MLB.com

Manny Machado has been one of the game's best players since debuting in 2012, and he is set to cash in as a first-time free agent this offseason.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the infielder.

Manny Machado has been one of the game's best players since debuting in 2012, and he is set to cash in as a first-time free agent this offseason.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the infielder.

Yankees expected to pursue Machado after Gregorius undergoes Tommy John surgery
Oct. 18: With Didi Gregorius recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the shortstop position is now an unexpected question mark for the Yankees. The speculation, of course, is that Gregorius' injury may only increase the Yankees' interest in impending free agent Manny Machado, who was already expected to be on the club's offseason radar as a potential option at third base.

And as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman notes in an article for Fancred Sports, there's good reason for that speculation. New York has tried to land Machado before, and Machado's interest in joining the Yankees was documented back in August, when Heyman reported that people close to the slugger were suggesting that the club was his first choice in free agency.

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

And while Machado's lack of hustle has been a topic of conversation during the postseason, teams may be willing to overlook that problem given his immense talent.

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

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

Granted, the rotation is arguably a greater area of need than the offense, with Luis Severino struggling in the second half and CC Sabathia, J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn hitting free agency. Adding a starter such as left-hander Patrick Corbin, who is expected to be one of the Yankees' free-agent targets, according to another report from Heyman, may be the club's top priority.

But as Heyman points out, the Yankees could be in position to sign multiple top free agents, considering they won't be subject to the luxury-tax repeat-offender penalty after staying under the threshold in 2018.

Phillies set to make run at Machado, Harper
Oct. 18: Will Manny Machado and Bryce Harper join forces in Philadelphia? According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an appearance on "The Rundown" on Thursday, the Phillies are prepared to pursue both players, and many expect them to come away with at least one.

"People around baseball are going to be surprised if [the Phillies] don't get at least one of these two players, and maybe both," Heyman said.

Heyman had a similar report back in September, writing for Fancred Sports that multiple rival executives believed that the Phillies could land both superstars.

However, as Heyman pointed out Thursday, it could ultimately be tough for any team to pull that off, as both players are looking to break the bank in free agency. Furthermore, any club looking to sign either player will have plenty of competition.

Video: Heyman on Mariners, Phillies free agent rumors

Cashman has no comment on Machado's lack of hustle
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.

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."

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 has 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.

Manny Machado

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 to give everyone something to talk about.

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, but crew chief Joe West, manning the right-field line, called interference on the play as a fan's hands made contact with Betts' glove, possibly 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 to give everyone something to talk about.

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, but crew chief Joe West, manning the right-field line, called interference on the play as a fan's hands made contact with Betts' glove, possibly causing it to close and preventing him from completing the catch.

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A crew-chief review could not definitely determine if the fan had reached into the field of play and the call would stand. Altuve was called out, and George Springer, who had singled to right-center, was sent back to first base.

"I've got zero control, so it's hard for me to say something when it doesn't matter what I said," Altuve said. "They're not going to change it. I normally don't get mad about umpires' calls. That one I was a little upset.

"I looked at the replay and it's tough. That's the only thing I can say. It's really hard."

Betts said he felt the fan's hand just as he was about to make the catch.

"I got a good jump on it, and I was pretty positive I was going to be able to catch it," he said. "But as I jumped and went over, reached my hand up, I felt like somebody was kind of pushing my glove out of the way or something. And I got to see a little bit of the replay. I guess they were going to catch the ball and pushed my glove out of the way."

West, speaking with a pool reporter after the game was over, said: "[Altuve] hit the ball to right field. [Betts] jumped up to try to make a catch. The fan interfered with him over the playing field. That's why I called spectator interference."

Asked what he saw that prompted the initial interference call, West said, "Well, when [Betts] jumped up to reach for the ball, the spectator reached out of the stands and hit him over the playing field and closed his glove."

Video: ALCS Gm4: Betts on fan interference, almost catch

The official rule 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.

There is no doubt that the call had a major impact on the game, and we have the numbers to prove it. According to win expectancy data provided by Tom Tango, had the ball been ruled a home run, the Astros' win expectancy would have jumped to 52.6 percent. But because it was an out, their win expectancy fell to 31.7 percent, a drop of more than 20 percentage points.

Part of the issue may have been the lack of a proper camera angle in the ballpark to make a definitive determination about where the ball was when Betts was attempting to catch it.

Tweet from @Mike_Ferrin: Screen shot from TBS of why they likely didn���t have a ���definitive��� look at Betts glove in the crowd pic.twitter.com/HZKuqMRhSW

"We have a replay system and we have the video," manager AJ Hinch said. "But it doesn't matter what we think, anyway. They're going to tell us what they want to rule."

The furthest Hinch would go when pressed about the ball's location was to repeat his observation that the umpiring and replay crews saw it the way they did, and that was that.

"I asked for a review," Hinch said. "And, obviously, they're going to give it to us. And they reviewed it and came back with the same outcome. So once the fan reaches past that line of the fence, I mean, we're going to penalize hitters every time. And so that changed the whole inning."

Video: ALCS Gm4: Hinch on fan interference call on Altuve

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said his first thought was that Altuve would be called out.

"[Betts] didn't reach over the fence; he was actually parallel with the wall," Cora said. "That's the rule and we got the out."

Postseason close calls involving fans

Instead of tying the game, the Astros ended the inning without scoring.

Video: ALCS Gm4: Cora on fan interference on Altuve's HR

"I was expecting that ball to go out," Altuve said. "The moment I saw the ball on the warning track, I said, 'OK, that's a double.' Two runs, the game ended up two runs, that makes me a little bit more upset."

The play, and the call, sparked a large response on social media, from a wide range of people watching either in person or at home on TV.

"Wow! I agree with call, just can't believe they got it right! Kudos to replay. Bet they have taller fences in Houston next yr." tweeted Hall of Famer Chipper Jones.

"Couldn't agree more. Make taller fences. Betts was going to catch it." former Brave Jeff Francoeur tweeted.

Tweet from @JeffFrancoeur: Couldn���t agree more. Make taller fences. Betts was going to catch it. https://t.co/KSoRz9ipnN

"That would've been an amazing catch by Betts!!!! They better call Altuve out." tweeted former All-Star pitcher Mark Mulder.

Video: Watch an extended cut of the crucial fan interference

Hinch, though, had arguably the best line of the night. Asked if they needed more cameras in the park to be able to see the best angles, Hinch deadpanned, "Yeah, earlier we started the day with, 'Do we have too many cameras in the park," a reference to the sign-stealing controversy that engulfed the pregame conversation. "So, yeah, I wish we had an angle that was perfectly along the fence line that would show. That's the one camera that we don't have."

Video: ALCS Gm4: Astros on fan interference call

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

Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros

Big League Chew to feature female player