MLB playoff updates: Yankees beat Rays to stay alive and force decisive Game 5 – Yahoo Sports

During MLB’s busy league division series, we’ll keep you updated on results, must-see moments and what’s next in each matchup.

What happened? You didn’t think the New York Yankees would go away quietly, did you?

With their backs against the wall, the Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-1 in Game 4 of the American League Division Series to even things up and force a decisive Game 5 on Friday. 

Leading the way was a familiar postseason hero. Shortstop Gleyber Torres, who entered hitting .329 with four home runs over his first 19 career postseason games, added another big home run. And we mean BIG in every sense of the word. 

His sixth-inning two-run homer run not only extended New York’s lead to three runs, it nearly cleared the Western Metal Supply Co. Building down the left field line at Petco Park. 

It was also significant in terms of Yankees’ history. Torres is now even with Mickey Mantle for most postseason home runs before age 24. 

Prior to Torres’ blast, the game was more about timely hitting and clutch pitching. Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery set the tone by successfully walking the tightrope. The 27-year-old left-hander limited the Rays to one run on three hits and three walks over four innings. 

Fortunately for the Yankees, their hot and cold bullpen was hot tonight. Chad Green, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman combined to throw five scoreless innings to secure the win. 

New York never trailed after plating two runs against Rays opener Ryan Thompson in the second inning. Luke Voit, who led MLB with 22 home runs during the regular season, opened the scoring with his first homer of the postseason. Later in the frame, Brett Gardner raced home on DJ LeMahieu‘s sacrifice fly. 

The Rays got their first run on Brandon Lowe‘s RBI groundout in the second inning.  

Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees celebrates with Gio Urshela after hitting a two-run home run in the sixth inning during Game 4 of the ALDS. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees celebrates with Gio Urshela after hitting a two-run home run in the sixth inning during Game 4 of the ALDS. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees celebrates with Gio Urshela after hitting a two-run home run in the sixth inning during Game 4 of the ALDS. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

What’s next? We’ve gone as far as we can go. Game 5 of the ALDS will take place Friday at Petco Park in San Diego. The time of the game will depend on the outcome of Dodgers-Padres Game 3. If the Dodgers win and end the series, the game will start at 7:10 p.m. ET. If the Padres win to extend that series, Rays-Yankees Game 5 would begin at 6:10 p.m. ET.

For the Yankees, it’s a chance to clinch their third ALCS appearance in the last four seasons. A win for the Rays would propel them to just their second ALCS in franchise history. The first came in 2008 when they reached and lost the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies

The Yankees will go with Game 1 starter and ace Gerrit Cole. The Rays, meanwhile, surprised Thursday night by announcing that Game 2 starter Tyler Glasnow will get the ball to begin Game 5. Cole will be on short rest, but Glasnow will be on even shorter rest — an indication the Rays may employ a sort of bullpen game.

You see this? Luke Voit is one strong human being.

What happened? The Atlanta Braves are headed back to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2001. 

After losing eight previous division series in the last 19 years, the Braves completed a sweep of the Miami Marlins on Thursday with a 7-0 win that now has them one round away from returning to the World Series.

Their Game 3 win was typical Braves — their powerful offense relentlessly pushed runs across the board while their pitchers kept their opponents from doing the same. 

The Braves are headed to the NLCS for the first time since 2001 after sweeping the Marlins. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)The Braves are headed to the NLCS for the first time since 2001 after sweeping the Marlins. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Braves are headed to the NLCS for the first time since 2001 after sweeping the Marlins. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Incredibly, the Braves have only allowed opposing teams to score in one of their five postseason wins this season. They blanked the Cincinnati Reds in both games in the wild-card round and only let the Marlins score in Game 1 of this series.

It’s even more incredible when you consider the Braves rolled into the playoffs as an offense-first team. They were just hoping to have enough pitching, but thus far, it’s basically been lights out.

The Marlins scored in three innings of Game 1, but otherwise, the Braves have held their opponents scoreless in 44 innings this postseason.  

For a team that entered the postseason without its ace Mike Soroka and veteran arms like Cole Hamels and Felix Hernandez, the Braves have had to lean on rookies and unheralded youngsters to advance through the postseason bracket.

In Game 3 it was Kyle Wright, who entered with a 5.21 ERA this season but threw six scoreless innings while striking out seven. The Braves offense, meanwhile, did what it does.

There were no homers in Game 3, but they strung together hits to score four runs in the third, another in the fourth and two more in the fifth. The middle of their order — No. 2 hitter Freddie Freeman to No. 5 hitter Ozzie Albies — had seven hits, three RBIs and four runs scored. 

It wasn’t glamorous, but efficient. The type of performance that will make them a daunting opponent in the next round.

What’s next? The Braves advance to face the winner of the Dodgers/Padres series, in which the Dodgers have a 2-0 lead going into Thursday’s game. The Braves would likely prefer to face the Padres, who are like the Braves in that their starting pitching leaves something to be desired but their lineup is fun and dynamic. Odds are it will be the Dodgers, who present a number of matchup problems (for anybody, not just the Braves). At least the Braves will have time to rest their pitchers for the next round.

As for the Marlins, what’s next is hopefully more of what we saw in 2020. As this year’s surprise team in the LDS round, they’ve taken a large step forward in 2020 — the biggest step so far under the Derek Jeter regime. The Marlins showed some of their young talent is starting to develop and could be a stronger contender in the future with a couple more pieces. That they made it this far after being the first team shut down by COVID-19 makes the whole thing even more commendable.

You see this? Travis d’Arnaud had a big hit in every game of this series. He’s the Game 3 installment.

ALDS Game 4: Houston Astros 11, Oakland A’s 6

What happened? For the fourth straight season, the Houston Astros are headed to the American League Championship Series after soundly defeating the Oakland A’s 11-6 in Game 4 of the ALDS.

Houston’s lineup stayed hot in the clinching win, launching four home runs. Michael Brantley accounted for those of homers. Carlos Correa’s three-run blast in the fourth inning put the Astros ahead for good, while Jose Altuve’s two-run seventh inning homer was the icing on the cake.

The Astros will be the first team in MLB history to reach the LCS after finishing the regular season with a losing record. After finishing 29-31, the Astros have gone 5-1 in the postseason. They’ve eliminated two division championship teams — the Twins and A’s.

What’s next? Another trip to the ALCS, where the Astros will meet either the New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays currently that series 2-1.

The ALCS is scheduled to begin on Sunday, meaning the Astros will have three days to prepare. That could be good news Zack Greinke, who started Game 4 after being scratched earlier the series with in his pitching arm. At the very least, Lance McCullers and Framber Valdez will be available to pitch Games 1 and 2 again on regular rest.

As for the A’s, they’ll have an entire offseason to ponder what went wrong. After dethroning Houston in the AL West, they were unable to keep up offensively in this series.

Houston did not play the Yankees or Rays during the regular season due to MLB’s limited travel schedule. However, they do have recent history with both in the postseason. In fact, the Astros eliminated both in the 2019 postseason, taking out the Rays in five games during the ALDS and the Yankees in six games during the ALCS.

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