In the American League Championship Series, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees battle to get the upper hand as their super-series shifts to New York, while in the National League Championship Series, the Washington Nationals look to finish off the St. Louis Cardinals and make the first World Series in franchise history. Together, it’s a postseason doubleheader to get excited about.
What’s on tap
4:08 p.m. ET: Astros at Yankees, ALCS Game 3
8:05 p.m. ET: Cardinals at Nationals, NLCS Game 4
The most important thing of the day: Certainly the Cardinals trying to stave off elimination is critical. But we can’t wait to see the historically hot Gerrit Cole on the Yankee Stadium mound with the volume turned up to postseason levels. And while it’s a tall task, if the Yankees were to win Game 3, they would get a huge boost for the rest of the series.
The view from inside the ballparks
NEW YORK — Both the Yankees and Astros got something they needed in Houston. The Yankees finally notched an ALCS victory at a hostile Minute Maid Park in Game 1, and the Astros delivered a dramatic, ballpark-shaking win in Game 2 to even the score. As the series shifts to the Bronx, the Astros send a seemingly unstoppable Cole to the mound, while the Yankees counter with an ace of their own in Luis Severino. So who will get what they need in Game 3? — Matt Marrone
WASHINGTON — The Nationals are getting something from everybody while the Cardinals aren’t getting anything from anyone in this series. Of course, this is baseball and we all know things can change in a hurry — but after listening to Nationals Park rock while the home team poured it on in Game 3, the vibe that this NLCS won’t make it back to St. Louis is getting louder and louder. — Dan Mullen
A stat to impress your friends: The Nationals have a chance to become the fourth team to sweep the NLCS since it went to a best-of-seven format in 1985. Only one of the previous three teams to sweep (the 1995 Braves) went on to win the World Series. (The teams that swept and lost the World Series: 2007 Rockies, 2015 Mets.)
The Yankees would love to take two out of three at the Stadium, then head back to Houston up 3-2 with two chances to punch a ticket to the World Series. That could very well happen, but with Cole on the mound this evening, that might mean needing to win Games 4 and 5. Astros 5, Yankees 2. — Marrone
Cole is just that good right now, but given the way the Yankees drive up pitch counts, Houston is going to need some good bullpen work again, as they did in Game 2. Astros 3, Yankees 1 — Bradford Doolittle
It’s going to be mentally tough for the Cardinals to dig deep and recover from their 3-0 deficit — oh, with Patrick Corbin, one of the top 10 starters in the league — on the mound for the Nats. Only the 2004 Red Sox have bounced back from a 3-0 series deficit. Washington finishes off the sweep. Nationals 6, Cardinals 4 — David Schoenfield
The Cardinals managed to keep the first two games close, but it really hasn’t felt like they’ve had a chance at any point during the series and I see no real reason that would change with Corbin taking the mound and D.C. sure to be LOUD with the Nats having a chance of sweeping into the World Series. Nationals 6, Cardinals 2, followed by a champagne celebration. — Mullen
About last night
Stud of the night: Another NLCS game, another great start by the Nationals, ho-hum. So we’re going with Howie Kendrick, who capped the Nats’ huge four-run third inning with his first of three doubles, tying an LCS record. Kendrick’s three RBIs brought his total for the postseason to nine, tied with New York’s Gleyber Torres for tops in October.
Dud of the night: With the problems the Cardinals have had scoring in the NLCS, they could ill afford Marcell Ozuna‘s miscue that helped put St. Louis in a hole it couldn’t escape. Ozuna wasn’t charged with an error, but the ball clanked off his glove as he tried to make a sliding catch on Anthony Rendon‘s double in the third that made it 2-0 Washington. Two batters later, it was 4-0 — and that was that.
Highlight of the night:
Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick all hit RBIs in the third inning to total four runs against the Cardinals in Game 3.
Off the diamond
Social media says:
— MLB (@MLB) October 15, 2019
Quote of note: “It’s incredible to play here. I mean, it’s a blast. This is the big stage. This is a big stadium. It’s rowdy from the first pitch on. It will bring some adrenaline out of you. It doesn’t take a lot of time to get ready for these games because you show up to the ballpark, there’s a buzz immediately.” — Astros manager AJ Hinch on playoff games at Yankee Stadium
Best of the playoffs so far …
Our running postseason MVP: There are a lot of ways to break down Cole’s dominance so far: a 0.57 ERA and 0.57 WHIP, 25 strikeouts, three walks and six hits allowed in 15⅔ innings, including eight stifling innings in Game 5 against the Rays. Then there’s this: Cole joins Mike Mussina in the 1997 ALCS as the only pitchers with at least 25 strikeouts and one or fewer runs allowed in a series in postseason history.
The play of this October: We’re going to cheat and make this plays: the back-to-back home runs by the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto off the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the National League Division Series. Kershaw in the wake of Soto’s tying bomb could end up as the lasting image of these playoffs.
Game of the postseason so far: Nationals-Dodgers, Game 5 of the NLDS. The Dodgers’ ambushing Stephen Strasburg, Strasburg settling down and keeping the Nats in it, Walker Buehler‘s mastery, Kershaw’s big strikeout before his eighth-inning implosion, Howie Kendrick‘s 10th-inning grand slam, questions for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. There’s a lot to unpack here, and this was a true postseason classic.