On a busy day of postseason baseball Friday, the Astros brought the lumber against the Red Sox, the Indians and Yankees brought the drama, the Cubs and Nationals brought the shutdown pitching, and the Dodgers and D-backs brought a little bit of everything to close out the night.Houston and Cleveland
On a busy day of postseason baseball Friday, the Astros brought the lumber against the Red Sox, the Indians and Yankees brought the drama, the Cubs and Nationals brought the shutdown pitching, and the Dodgers and D-backs brought a little bit of everything to close out the night.
Houston and Cleveland both took 2-0 leads in the American League Division Series presented by Doosan, as the AL West champs cruised to an 8-2 victory at Minute Maid Park and the AL Central champs rallied for a 9-8 win in 13 innings at Progressive Field.
Meanwhile, in a couple of Game 1 matchups in the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile, Chicago began its World Series title defense with a 3-0 win at Nationals Park, while Los Angeles took down Arizona, 9-5, at Dodger Stadium.
Here are five facts to know about the first of Friday's four postseason games:
Astros soar past Red Sox
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1. In his first at-bat, Houston's Jose Altuve jumped on the first pitch Thomas Pomeranz threw him and lined a base hit. It was Altuve's second first-pitch hit of the playoffs, after he homered off Chris Sale on a first pitch on Thursday, and his 64th of 2017. That's the most in the Majors, with the Dodgers' Corey Seager (50) ranking second.
Altuve puts the first pitch in play more often than any other hitter. He's done so 140 times in 2017, and is hitting .457 when he does.
2. After adding another single in his second at-bat, Altuve now has more hits in two games this postseason (5-for-7) than he did over six games in his first postseason, in 2015 (4-for-26). He later was twice walked intentionally, one fewer IBB than he collected throughout the entire regular season.
3. When Houston's Carlos Correa crushed a solo home run to left field in the first inning, the ball jumped off his bat with an exit velocity of 108.5 mph. That made it Correa's second-hardest homer of the year, according to Statcast™. During the regular season, Correa had a hard-hit rate (anything hit 95 mph or harder) of 47.5 percent, which led all shortstops (min. 300 batted balls). Correa also became the first player in Astros history to put together multiple postseason games with four or more RBIs. In addition to Friday, he did so in Game 4 of the '15 ALDS against Kansas City.
- David Price came out of the bullpen for the Red Sox and got eight big outs, at least keeping the Red Sox in the game during the middle innings. It was Price's first scoreless postseason appearance since he was a rookie with the Rays in 2008. He was being used as a reliever then, too -- Price didn't allow a run in four of his five appearances that year, including his final one in Game 5 of the '08 World Series.
- After tossing 5 2/3 strong innings on Friday, Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel now has given up no more than one run and struck out exactly seven in each of his three career postseason starts. That broke a tie for the club record with Nolan Ryan and Brandon Backe, who both gave the Astros two postseason starts with no more than one run and at least seven K's.
Tribe roars back, walks off
1. When Yan Gomes ripped the game-winning single down the left-field line to score Austin Jackson in the 13th inning, he became the seventh player in Indians history to notch a walk-off postseason hit. The most recent also came in an ALDS Game 2 against the Yankees, in extra innings. That was a Travis Hafner single in the 11th inning in 2007 -- or 10 years ago Thursday. Gomes tied Tony Pena (1995 ALDS Game 1) for the latest Indians postseason walk-off hit, as Pena smacked a 13th-inning homer against Boston.
- Francisco Lindor's towering sixth-inning grand slam off the foul pole got the Indians back in the game in dramatic fashion. Lindor's shot off Yankees reliever Chad Green was the third slam hit by a shortstop in postseason play, following Brandon Crawford in the 2014 NL Wild Card Game and Addison Russell in Game 6 of last year's World Series, which also came at Cleveland's Progressive Field.
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Lindor's grand slam was the fifth in Indians postseason history, with the last coming from Jim Thome against the Red Sox in Game 2 of the 1999 ALDS. At 23 years and 326 days old, Lindor is also the fourth-youngest player to hit a postseason grand slam behind Mickey Mantle (21 years, 349 days in 1953), Russell (22, 283 days in 2016) and Gil McDougald (23 years, 143 days in 1951).
3. The Yankees were able to get six runs off Indians starter Corey Kluber, which is an extraordinary accomplishment considering how well Cleveland's ace had pitched down the stretch. Kluber had not allowed more than two runs in any of his previous nine outings, which was the longest such streak by any Indians starter since Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry (11) in 1974.
Friday marked the first time in Kluber's career that he had allowed at least six runs in fewer than three innings. Aaron Hicks' back-breaking three-run home run, which chased Kluber from the game, was just the third dinger hit off Kluber's indomitable curveball all season. Opponents were 26-for-249 (.104) against Kluber's breaking ball in the regular season.
4. The Yankees homered three times Friday, marking the second time in their first three games of this postseason that they've hit at least three homers. In their long and storied history, this was only the sixth time in 33 games that the Bronx Bombers lost despite knocking at least three roundtrippers.
- Right-hander Josh Tomlin, who struck out three over two perfect innings to get the win, was the eighth pitcher of the night for the Indians. That number set a franchise postseason record and was one shy of tying the overall postseason record of nine, previously set by four teams.
Cubs blank Nats
1. In a postseason filled with shaky starting pitching thus far, the Cubs' Kyle Hendricks and Nationals' Stephen Strasburg put together a good old-fashioned pitchers' duel. Hendricks gave up just two hits over seven innings, and Strasburg three hits over seven innings with two unearned runs and 10 strikeouts. The only other time in postseason history that both starters in a game allowed no earned runs and three hits or fewer over at least seven innings was in Game 5 of the 2004 NL Championship Series between the Cardinals (Woody Williams) and Astros (Brandon Backe).
- Strasburg lost both his no-hit bid and shutout on Kristopher Bryant's RBI single with two outs in the sixth, but he made history nonetheless. Strasburg's 5 2/3 innings is the longest no-hit bid ever recorded against the Cubs in postseason play, replacing Bill Donovan's 5 1/3 innings for the Tigers in Game 2 of the 1908 World Series.
Strasburg became just the second pitcher in postseason history to be hung with a loss after striking out at least 10 and not allowing a single earned run. That happened twice to Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz, in Game 4 of the 1993 NLCS and Game 5 of the '96 World Series.
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3. Strasburg was outdueled by Hendricks, who recorded his second career scoreless postseason start with at least seven innings pitched and two or fewer hits allowed. Hendricks accomplished that feat in Game 6 of last year's NLCS against the Dodgers, and only three other Cubs pitchers (Rick Sutcliffe, Claude Passeau and Hall of Famer Mordecai Brown) had recorded such starts in the postseason before Hendricks.
4. Three of the first four batters Hendricks faced produced hard-hit balls in play, per Statcast™ (95 mph or higher exit velocity), in Trea Turner (106.0-mph groundout), Bryce Harper (100.1-mph single) and Daniel Murphy (108.0-mph lineout). But of the 11 balls in play against Hendricks thereafter, only two were hit hard -- a 101.3-mph flyout by Anthony Rendon in the third inning and a 100.8-mph ground ball by Michael A. Taylor in the seventh that resulted in an error. During the regular season, Hendricks was tied with the Yankees' Carsten Sabathia for third-lowest average exit velocity against among pitchers with a minimum of 250 at-bats against, at 83.9 mph.
5. C.J. Edwards and Wade Davis followed Hendricks with two more hitless innings, securing the 13th shutout in Cubs postseason history -- the 10th on the road and second since 1945, joining Jacob Arrieta's solo effort in the 2015 NL Wild Card Game at Pittsburgh. Following Taylor's two-out single in the second inning, Cubs pitchers held Washington to go 0-for-22 with three walks the rest of the way.
Dodgers outslug D-backs
1. All's well that ends well, and Clayton Kershaw ultimately picked up the win in Game 1, tossing 6 1/3 innings. Still, as has been the case for the lefty all too often in October, there were some significant bumps in the road. Kershaw surrendered a solo homer to A.J. Pollock in the second inning, another to J.D. Martinez in the sixth, and then two more in the seventh -- back-to-back shots by Ketel Marte and Jeff Mathis.
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It was just the second time in his career -- but also the second this year -- in which Kershaw allowed four homers in a game. He became the ninth pitcher to do it in a postseason game, but the first against an NL opponent. Current teammate Yu Darvish was the last, in Game 2 of the 2016 ALDS for the Rangers against the Blue Jays. Kershaw still became the first of those nine pitchers to pick up an official victory.
2. Marte's homer was a frozen rope into the seats down the left-field line. With an exit velocity of 110.9 mph, it was the hardest homer of Marte's career and tied the Brewers' Domingo Santana (June 2) for the hardest hit against Kershaw since Statcast™ debuted in 2015.
3. Kershaw can handle the bat a little bit, too, as he showed in the fifth inning, when he dug out a low curveball from Zack Godley and dunked it into center field for a single. That now makes six consecutive postseason series for Kershaw in which he has recorded exactly one hit, going back to the 2013 NLCS, with the lefty going 6-for-19 (.316) in that span.
Kershaw's sixth career postseason knock also broke a tie with Orel Hershiser and Johnny Podres for the Dodgers' all-time lead among pitchers.
4. D-backs starter Taijuan Walker had a night he'd like to forget as soon as possible, lasting one inning while allowing four runs on 48 pitches. All four Dodger runs scored before Walker recorded an out, making him just the seventh starting pitcher in postseason history to allow four runs before recording his first out. The last had been A.J. Burnett for the Yankees in Game 5 of the 2009 ALCS against the Angels.
5. Justin Turner ripped a three-run homer in the first inning, an RBI single in the fourth and another RBI single in the eighth. That made him just the third Dodgers player to drive in five runs in a postseason game, joining Pedro Guerrero in Game 6 of the 1981 World Series and Davey Lopes in Game 1 of the '78 World Series, both against the Yankees. It also was the fifth time a third baseman has notched at least three hits and five RBIs in a postseason game -- first since the Astros' Morgan Ensberg did it in the 2005 NLDS.