It was a good night for the home teams Wednesday as the Yankees continued to dominate at Yankee Stadium and the Cubs kept their hopes of a repeat alive by avoiding an National League Championship Series sweep at Wrigley Field.Behind a splendid start from right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and plenty of
It was a good night for the home teams Wednesday as the Yankees continued to dominate at Yankee Stadium and the Cubs kept their hopes of a repeat alive by avoiding an National League Championship Series sweep at Wrigley Field.
Behind a splendid start from right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and plenty of run support, the Yankees moved to 6-0 at home this postseason with a 5-0 win in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series presented by Camping World. They took a 3-2 series lead and have now won 19 of their last 22 games in the Bronx, although advancing to the World Series will require winning either Game 6 or 7 at Minute Maid Park.
While clubs ahead 3-2 in best-of-seven series have gone on to win 37 of 55 times since 1985, those taking that advantage out on the road are a more modest 14-13. Still, New York could join the 1978 Yankees, '81 Dodgers, '85 Cardinals and '96 Yankees as the only clubs to win four straight games in a best-of-seven postseason series immediately after being down 2-0.
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Later in the evening, the Cubs won their fifth straight potential elimination game over the past two postseasons and dealt the Dodgers their first loss in these playoffs, pulling out a 3-2 victory in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World.
While they still trail in the series, 3-1, the Cubs at least avoided a sweep. Of the previous 36 teams to fall behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven postseason series, only seven made it to a Game 5. Of those, just three have made it to a Game 6, including the 2004 Red Sox, who became the only team to erase a 3-0 series deficit while overcoming the Yankees in the ALCS.
Here are some other notable facts and figures from Wednesday's postseason action:
Rely on the long ball
• Cubs catcher Willson Contreras opened the NLCS scoring in a big way in the second inning, connecting on an Alex Wood fastball with a 110.6 mph exit velocity according to Statcast™. The ball, which slammed off the scoreboard behind the left-field bleachers, had a projected distance of 491 feet. That set a new postseason record for a homer since Statcast™ debuted in 2015, and including the regular season, it tied for the seventh-longest round-tripper during that span. It was the second-longest for a Cubs player, behind only Kristopher Bryant's 495-footer, which also hit the scoreboard, on Sept. 6, 2015.
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• Javier Baez added a home run of his own later in the inning, snapping a streak of 20 hitless at-bats to begin this postseason. That left him shy of matching Dal Maxvill's record of 22 hitless at-bats in the 1968 World Series for the Cardinals.
• Baez went deep again in the fifth, extending the Cubs' lead to 3-1 and making him the fifth Cubs player to have a multi-homer postseason game. Aramis Ramirez, Alex Gonzalez and Eric Karros all accomplished that feat for Chicago during the 2003 playoffs, while Gary Matthews did it in 1984.
Baez is the first player in that exclusive group to homer at least twice in a potential elimination game for the Cubs.
• Baez is the 11th second baseman to have a multi-homer postseason game (13th occurrence) and second this year, with Houston's Jose Altuve having gone deep three times in Game 1 of the AL Division Series presented by Doosan.
Arrieta delivers again
Jacob Arrieta was terrific for the Cubs, twirling 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball and allowing just three hits to the Dodgers with his team's proverbial back against the wall. With the win, Arrieta improved to 3-0 in potential postseason elimination games. He tossed a shutout against the Pirates in the 2015 NL Wild Card Game and beat the Indians on the road in Game 6 of last year's World Series.
Arrieta joins Curt Schilling (four), Josh Beckett, John Smoltz and Justin Verlander as the only pitchers with at least three career victories in potential postseason elimination games for their clubs. Arrieta also joined Kerry Wood as the only pitchers to allow one run or fewer in two different elimination starts for the Cubs.
• Arrieta became the first starting pitcher this postseason to record an out in the sixth inning against the Dodgers. His nine strikeouts also were a 2017 postseason high against the Dodgers, as well as for the Cubs. Arrieta now has four of the eight postseason starts in Cubs history with at least nine strikeouts, while no other pitcher has more than one.
Arrieta is the third active pitcher with at least four postseason starts of nine or more strikeouts, joining Verlander (seven) and Clayton Kershaw (five).
Wade in deep
Cubs closer Wade Davis allowed a home run to Justin Turner but still finished off the final two innings for the save. Davis also worked two innings for the save that clinched the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile against the Nationals, and he also notched a pair of two-inning saves for the Royals during the 2015 postseason. Before that, Mariano Rivera for the '09 Yankees was the last pitcher to go multiple frames for a save twice in a single postseason. No Cubs pitcher had ever done it.
Davis also joined Rivera (2001) as the only pitchers to notch multiple saves of at least two innings in elimination games in the same postseason.
It was a gutsy performance by Davis, who began the ninth with a higher pitch count (34) than he ran up in any regular-season appearance this year, ultimately finishing with 48. That, along with the 44 pitches he threw in NLDS Game 5 at Washington, are his two highest totals since he moved to the bullpen full-time in 2014.
• No team has ever been swept in a seven-game series while holding a lead in all four contests, and thanks to Davis, the Cubs avoided becoming the first. Chicago held a lead in each of its three losses in this series.
• Despite the victory, Cubs hitters have just one hit in their last 30 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Chicago went 0-for-2 in those situations Wednesday.
Odds and ends
• The Dodgers' Wood went 7-1 with a 2.24 ERA through 13 starts on the road this season. He completed at least six innings in 11 of those outings, but lasted just 4 2/3 innings against the Cubs in Game 4. He was charged with all three of Chicago's runs in his first career playoff start. All four of his previous October appearances had come in relief.
• Turner's eighth-inning homer gave him 11 RBIs through seven playoff games. He trails only Dusty Baker (13 RBIs in 1977) and Davey Lopes (12 in '78) for the Dodgers' record in a single postseason.
• Turner's 2-for-2 night raised his career postseason batting average to .378, the highest of any player with at least 100 career postseason plate appearances. Turner's .495 lifetime on-base percentage (first) and 1.154 OPS (third) in the playoffs also rank among the very best in that group of qualified players.
• The Dodgers' bullpen has not allowed a run in 21 consecutive innings this postseason, dating back to Game 2 of the NLDS against Arizona. In fact, Los Angeles relievers have allowed just one baserunner to advance as far as third base in that span.
The terrific Tanaka
• Tanaka held Houston to just three hits and one walk while striking out eight over seven scoreless innings. He also held the Indians scoreless over seven frames and struck out seven in Game 3 of the AL Division Series presented by Doosan, as New York won, 1-0, to stay alive. That makes Tanaka the third pitcher in Yankees history to author multiple starts of at least seven scoreless innings in one postseason. Roger Clemens (2000) and Hall of Famer Whitey Ford (1960) are the others, with Clemens also striking out at least seven in both games.
• Tanaka is just the fifth pitcher to make multiple starts of at least seven scoreless and no more than three hits allowed in a single postseason, joining the Tigers' Kenny Rogers (2006), the D-backs' Randy Johnson ('01), Clemens ('00) and the Padres' Kevin Brown (1998).
• Tanaka's 1.44 career postseason ERA as a starter ranks third all-time among Yankees with at least four playoff starts, behind only Monte Pearson (1.01 from 1936-39) and Spud Chandler (1.16 from 1941-43).
• Tanaka's 0.90 ERA (two earned runs in 20 innings pitched) in the 2017 postseason is the second-lowest ERA in a single postseason in Yanks history (minimum 19 innings pitched), behind only Waite Hoyt's 0.00 ERA (27 innings) in 1921. Orlando Hernandez's 1.20 ERA (four earned runs in 30 innings) in the '99 postseason is third, followed by Herb Pennock's 1.23 (three earned runs in 22 innings) in '26 and Carl Mays' 1.73 (five earned runs in 26 innings) in '21.
• Tanaka improved to 7-1 with a 0.96 ERA over his past eight starts at Yankee Stadium.
The Baby Bombers are definitely back
• Aaron Judge had only two extra-base hits while striking out 20 times in the first 39 plate appearances of his first postseason. Since then, the rookie slugger has four extra-base hits (two home runs and two doubles) in Games 3-5 of the ALCS.
• Gary Sanchez drove in a pair of runs with a 110.2-mph RBI single off Astros starter Dallas Keuchel and a 110.7-mph home run off reliever Brad Peacock. That makes him just the second player to record as many as two base hits with exit velocities of 110 mph or higher in a postseason game since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. Toronto's Josh Donaldson was the other in Game 3 of the 2015 ALDS.
• Sanchez joined Judge and Greg Bird as Yankees with three homers this postseason. Prior to this year, only three Yanks players age 25 or younger had gone deep at least three times in a single postseason throughout franchise history. Lou Gehrig homered four times in 1928, Charlie Keller three times in '39 and Mickey Mantle three times in '56.
• Judge's strikeout in the first inning was his 23rd of the postseason, breaking a tie with Pat Burrell (2010) for the second most by any player in a single year. He later added his 24th. Alfonso Soriano set the record with 26 for the '03 Yankees.
New York finally figures out Keuchel
• Keuchel entered with a 0.70 ERA in his four career postseason starts, which ranked as the best of all-time (minimum four starts). After allowing four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, Keuchel now ranks 19th on that list with a 1.78 ERA in five postseason starts.
• Keuchel's two doubles allowed on Wednesday were as many extra-base hits as he allowed in his last 59 batters faced against New York dating back to July 25, 2016. Entering Game 5, Keuchel had not allowed an earned run to the Yankees in 14 consecutive innings (including the regular season and postseason) dating back to July 25, 2016.
The Yanks' four earned runs against Keuchel are more than half as many as they'd managed against the left-hander (seven) in his eight previous starts against them in the regular season and postseason combined, a stretch that spanned 57 2/3 innings.
• In striking out eight Wednesday, Keuchel became the first pitcher to ever record at least seven strikeouts in each of his first five career postseason starts. Bob Gibson and Roy Halladay each recorded seven-plus strikeouts in four of their first five postseason starts.
• Keuchel's 18 strikeouts are the most a pitcher has tallied in consecutive postseason outings against the Yankees since Josh Beckett recorded 19 in Games 3 and 6 of the 2003 World Series for the Marlins.
• Houston took only its seventh shutout loss of the season and first since since Aug. 17 against the D-backs.
• The Astros' offense has come to a screeching halt in the ALCS after scoring 24 runs and batting a robust .333/.402/.571 with eight homers and 18 total extra-base hits in four ALDS games against the Red Sox. In five games against the Yanks, Houston has scored nine runs while posting a .147/.234/.213 line with just one homer and eight extra-base knocks.
• This is only the second time all year that the Astros have gone three straight games without hitting a home run. The other occurrence was a five-game stretch from Sept. 12-16.
• Altuve, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel have gone a combined 14-for-54 (.259) with a home run, five doubles, seven runs batted in and five runs scored in Games 1 through 5 of the ALCS. But the rest of Houston's supporting cast (Carlos Beltran, Alex Bregman, Marwin Gonzalez, Brian McCann, Josh Reddick and George Springer) have gone 7-for-89 (.079) with one RBI.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSimonMLB.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.