Updated: Oct. 10
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Jacob deGrom (13 Ks) of the Mets and Clayton Kershaw (11 Ks) of the Dodgers made history Friday in their NLDS Game 1 battle, becoming the first pitchers in a postseason game to strike out at least 11 batters each. deGrom outdueled Kershaw in leading the Mets to a 3-1 victory. Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy belted a solo home run in the fourth inning to give the Mets a 1-0 lead, before David Wright plated the eventual game-winning run by knocking in two with a bases-loaded single in the top of the seventh.
In Friday's other NLDS Game 1, St. Louis Cardinals starter John Lackey opened the series on home turf in impressive fashion, by throwing five innings of no-hit baseball on his way to 7 1/3 innings of two-hit ball. The bullpen sealed the 4-0 shutout win against the division rival Chicago Cubs, with reliever Trevor Rosenthal closing out the game in the ninth with three called strikeouts. In a valiant effort of his own, Cubs starter Jon Lester also went 7 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on five hits with nine strikeouts. The Cardinals received all the offense they would need in the first inning, when Matt Holliday drove in Stephen Piscotty, who had doubled. Piscotty also added a two-run homer in the eighth.
Free Baseball in TO
In Game 2 of their ALDS, the Texas Rangers needed 14 innings to get past the hometown Toronto Blue Jays, 6-4, to take a commanding two-game lead in the best-of-five series. Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor scored the game-winning run when Hanser Alberto, Adrian Beltre's replacement at third base, singled to center field in the top of the 14th. Texas starter Cole Hamels allowed four runs, of which only two were earned, and struck out six batters without any walks. The Jays' Josh Donaldson hit a home run in his return to the lineup after leaving Game 1 early following a collision at second base. The teams resume their series in Texas on Sunday.
The defending American League champion Royals evened their ALDS against the upstart Houston Astros with a 5-4 win Friday in Kansas City. Ben Zobrist drove in Alcides Escobar with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning, after Escobar led off the inning with a triple. The Royals' win was the first by a home team this postseason, and it wasn't easy. The Royals had to claw back from 3-0 and 4-2 deficits. The series now shifts to Houston for Game 3 on Sunday.
Hanser Alberto, a 22-year-old rookie subbing for superstar leader Adrian Beltre, had had a rough game, making a costly error in the second inning and coming up empty in four previous at-bats before his single to center in the 14th inning gave the Rangers a win in Game 2.
"After I made the error, I knew I had to keep my head up," he said. "But we fight until the last out. It doesn't matter."
The Other Rookie
Tommy Pham, a 27-year-old outfielder who had hit .325 in 152 games over two seasons in Triple-A Memphis before coming up in July, crushed a slider 431 feet into the left-field stands in the eighth inning to cement the Cardinals' win.
"You talk about young players, that sometimes you wonder how they're going to respond when you put 'em on a stage like this, but not with Tommy," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "You know he's going to be there. He's been looking forward to this for a long time, and tonight he did a great job with it."
Colby Rasmus is thriving on the postseason stage. He doubled and homered to extend his streak of postseason games with an extra-base hit to six, tying an MLB record for most at the beginning of a postseason career. He's hitting .444 (8-for-18) with three home runs, six RBIs and a double this postseason.
"I'm just playing. I'm not thinking about no records or none of that stuff," he told the Houston Chronicle. "Just loving the game right now and trying to help these boys win a ballgame."
David Wright, in his first postseason in nine years, ripped a two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded in the seventh to put the Mets ahead of the Dodgers, 3-0, in Game 1. Wright, who missed 115 games this season due to an injured back, didn't take his opportunity for granted, wrapping a 98 mph fastball up the middle.
"You rewind a couple months and I was a spectator here ... To come full circle and enjoy that as a baseball player, that meant a lot. That was cool, that was fun, and that was about as sweet as I thought it was going to be."
The Royals were beginning to feel how other clubs felt against them last year before Eric Hosmer, looking for a fastball, somehow got his bat barrel on a slider that was estimated at nine inches off the plate and served a soft liner to left field to key a game-tying rally in the sixth inning. Mike Moustakas joked that Hosmer's rear end was in Kansas City's dugout when he connected.
"At that point, it's not as much about form as function," pitcher Chris Young observed.
"I love him,'' Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham said of teammate John Lackey. "I call him OG because he has that relentless attitude out there. He's fearless. He's an original gangster.''
Chicago Cubs @ St. Louis Cardinals; 5:30 p.m. ET; TV: TBS
Starters: Kyle Hendricks vs. Jaime Garcia
New York Mets @ Los Angeles Dodgers; 9 p.m. ET; TV: TBS
Starters: Noah Syndergaard vs. Zack Greinke
The Trivia Answer
Follow us @MLB_Players and to catch our postseason social media series, titled #WinOrGoHome #ItsBlackandWhite, featuring some up-close photos courtesy of Getty Sports.