MLB Playoffs 2019: Updated LCS Bracket Results, Highlights and Reaction
The Washington Nationals earned a full week of rest before the 2019 World Series by sweeping St. Louis in the National League Championship Series.
Dave Martinez's side used seven first-inning runs to clinch its first NL pennant with a 7-4 win Tuesday night.
The NL Wild Card Game winner must wait a few days to find out its Fall Classic opponent, as Houston leads New York 2-1 in the American League Championship Series.
Gerrit Cole powered the Astros to a 4-1 triumph in Game 3, and they must now rely on other hurlers to step up to either clinch the series at Yankee Stadium, or head home with an advantage.
If the Nationals match up with the Astros, we could be in for some tremendous pitching showdowns.
In the NLCS, Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin combined for a 1.35 ERA and 40 strikeouts over 26.2 innings, per MLB Stats:
Five Washington hitters contributed RBI in the opening frame of Game 4 to provide Corbin with some comfort on the mound.
Juan Soto's double to left field and Trea Turner's two-run single highlighted the seven-run rally that put the game out of reach for the struggling St. Louis offense.
As Adam Eaton told MASN's Mark Zuckerman, Washington's goal was to get off to a fast start.
"We always want to start fast," the outfielder said. "Especially when you're up 3-0. You want to start fast. It doesn't always happen like that, of course. But we wanted to try to get on them early. You can say it all you want, but to actually put it into fruition is different."
Jose Martinez, who had the most NLCS hits for the Cardinals, produced a two-run double in the fifth to cut the Washington lead to three, but that was as close as the visitors got.
Daniel Hudson finished off the NLCS for Washington. He was part of a bullpen that gave up a single hit in four innings after Corbin departed.
Washington's bullpen gave up one earned run in four games, and it received plenty of praise from manager Dave Martinez, per MASN's Byron Kerr.
"The boys did well," he said. "Patrick got out of some jams, and then our bullpen. I can't say enough about Rainey, Doo, Huddy (and) what they did today. Huge game for the both of them, but they've done that through this whole playoffs."
The Nationals outscored the Cardinals 20-6 and only one St. Louis starting pitcher lasted seven innings.
After the disappointing end to their season, the Cardinals players admitted they were outclassed by their opponent, per MLB.com's Anne Rogers.
"[The Nationals] beat us to the punch every step of the way," pitcher Adam Wainwright said. "Their lineup was tough. Their pitchers were tough. Their defense was great. Timely hits. There's really nothing that we can say we beat them at. They did a great job."
The ALCS is shaping up to be a much more competitive series after the Astros answered the Yankees' Game 1 win with back-to-back victories.
Houston also earned a first-inning advantage Tuesday, with Jose Altuve's home run handing Cole a lead before he took the hill. Josh Reddick followed that up with a second-inning solo shot.
Cole's 11-game double-digit strikeout streak came to an end in Game 3, but he was still dominant by shutting out the Yankees over seven innings.
Houston catcher Martin Maldonado noted how tough the Yankees lineup is to set down on strikes, per MLB,com's Brian McTaggart.
"Just because he didn't strike out 15 guys doesn't mean he didn't have a good game," he said. "He had an unbelievable game, made really, really good pitches when he needed to. That's a tough lineup to strike out."
As MLB Stats pointed out, the right-handed hurler is 19-1 with a 1.86 ERA and 265 strikeouts since May 22:
During that span, the Astros have lost three of Cole's starts, but only one of them has been charged to the impending free agent.
Gleyber Torres' eighth-inning blast to right field helped the Yankees avoid a shutout. In three ALCS games, the 22-year-old has five hits, two home runs and six RBI.
The Yankees could have scored more runs, but they failed to capitalize with five runners on base in the first two innings.
"We did a good job of getting some guys on base early in the game, making him throw pitches," Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "He was on the ropes a couple of times and he was able to get out of it. That's what the best pitchers do. Unfortunately, we weren't able to come through with that big hit tonight."
Aaron Boone's team lost back-to-back home games twice in the regular season, with both occurring in the opening week.
If the Yankees fail to rebound in Wednesday's Game 4, the Astros will be on the brink of their second World Series in three seasons.Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.
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