Indians lead ALDS 2-0; Dodgers, Cubs lead NLDS 1-0

Cleveland Indians' Yan Gomes, center, is mobbed by teammates after the Indians defeated the New York Yankees 9-8 in 13 innings in Game 2 of a baseball American League Division Series, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

CLEVELAND (AP) — They’ve won this season in almost every way imaginable: comebacks, walk-offs, blowouts, nail-biters.

No. 104 for the Cleveland Indians topped them all.

Yan Gomes singled home Austin Jackson from second base with none out in the 13th inning as Cleveland rallied from five runs down to stun the New York Yankees 9-8 on Friday and snatch a 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series.

Despite an atrocious start by ace Corey Kluber and losing slugger Edwin Encarnacion with a severely sprained ankle in the first, the Indians, with some help from a call that went their way, continued a charmed season growing more and more special by the day.

“The tendency of this team is to never give up,” Kluber said. “Even when we were down 8-3, we didn’t believe the game was over. We never feel like we’re out of a game.”

Jackson drew a leadoff walk in the 13th from Dellin Betances and stole second. Gomes went to a full count before pulling his bouncer just inside the third-base bag, easily scoring Jackson and touching off another one of those wild celebrations inside Progressive Field, where the Indians have been so good while running away with their division and winning 22 straight.

As Jackson sprinted home, Cleveland’s players poured out of the dugout and mobbed Gomes at the conclusion of a wild, 5-hour, 8-minute thriller that featured 14 pitchers and a call that may haunt Yankees manager Joe Girardi for months.

“We just were supposed to win,” said Indians outfielder Jay Bruce, who hit a game-tying homer in the eighth. “No words, honestly. I’m speechless.”

Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam in the sixth to rally Cleveland, which will try for a sweep in Game 3 Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Carlos Carrasco will start for the Indians against Masahiro Tanaka, who will try to extend New York’s season.

The Yankees had their chances late, but they stranded the go-ahead run at third in the ninth and 10th — and had pinch-runner Ronald Torreyes picked off second in the 11th by Gomes from the behind the plate.

Josh Tomlin, who had been scheduled to start later in the series, pitched two perfect innings for the win as Francona ran out of relievers in a game started by his best pitcher.

Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer off Kluber and Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird hit two-run shots for the Yankees, who may have caught a bad break before Lindor’s homer.

New York’s Aaron Judge went 0 for 3 and is hitless in seven at-bats in the series with five strikeouts.

The Yankees lost consecutive games for the first time since they were swept at home in a three-game series by the Indians from Aug. 28-30. Now, they need to sweep three in a row from Cleveland.

Down 8-3, facing New York’s vaunted bullpen, the Indians came back.

New York starter CC Sabathia was lifted with one on and one out in the sixth for Chad Green, another one of the Yankees’ flame-throwers who got an out before Gomes doubled. Green came inside and Lonnie Chisenhall was awarded first by plate umpire Dan Iassogna on a hit by pitch.

TV replays showed the ball slightly change direction — it appeared to hit the knob of Chisenhall’s bat.

Girardi said there wasn’t enough evidence within 30 seconds to justify a challenge. He said the team later saw a slow-motion replay suggesting he should’ve contested the call, but it was too late.

“There was nothing that told us he was not hit by the pitch,” Girardi said.

New York catcher Gary Sanchez said he heard something, but wasn’t sure what. Sanchez caught the pitch on a fly — it would’ve been strike three if it had been ruled a foul tip — and immediately pointed to the Yankees dugout, indicating they should consider challenging the call.

Girardi nodded and held up a finger, asking for time to make a decision.

“I didn’t think it hit him, because he never reacted,” Sanchez said through a translator. “He stood there. But it’s just stuff that happens in the game.”

Lindor then stepped in and hit a towering shot off the inside of the right-field foul pole to make it 8-7. Before he left the batter’s box, Lindor gave his shot some help.

“As soon as I hit it, I knew it had a chance of going out,” Lindor said. “Then after a couple of steps, I was like, ‘No, don’t go foul, please. Just stay fair.’ I started blowing on it a little bit. As soon as it went out, it was just a lot of emotions.

As Lindor rounded the bases with Cleveland’s first postseason slam since Jim Thome in 1999, Progressive Field shook the way it did last November when Rajai Davis hit a two-run homer in eighth inning of Game 7 off Aroldis Chapman, then with the Cubs and now closing for the Yankees.

Bruce, who has done everything since coming over in an August trade, led off the eighth with his homer to left off reliever David Robertson, who pitched 3 1-3 scoreless innings and earned the win in the wild-card game over Minnesota.

Five innings later, the Indians finally broke the tie. They matched the longest postseason game in Cleveland history — Tony Pena’s homer in the 13th beat Boston in Game 1 of the 1995 ALDS.

Kluber wasn’t himself. Not even close.

The right-hander, who led the AL in wins, ERA and intimidation, didn’t get out of the third inning as Francona pulled him after allowing Hicks’ three-run homer.

It was the shortest outing this season for Kluber, and as he slowly walked off the mound, Cleveland’s stunned crowd gave him a polite ovation and several teammates approached him to offer consolation.

“I threw too many balls,” Kluber said. “And when I’d throw strikes, they were right over the plate.”

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks throws against the Washington Nationals in the first inning of Game 1 of baseball’s National League Division Series, at Nationals Park, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kyle Hendricks goes about things completely differently than Stephen Strasburg does on the mound.

The kid from Dartmouth relies on a fastball that on a good day reaches 88 mph — about 10 mph slower than Strasburg’s — and a deceptive changeup. Instead of power, he gets by on precision, guile and smarts.

Hendricks outpitched Strasburg in Game 1 of the NL Division Series, giving up only two hits in seven innings to help the Chicago Cubs open defense of their first World Series title in 108 years by beating the Washington Nationals 3-0 on Friday night.

“That’s why we call him Professor,” Chicago second baseman Javier Baez said about Hendricks. “He knows what he’s doing.”

Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo produced RBI singles with two outs in the sixth inning for the first two hits off an otherwise-dominant Strasburg. Rizzo added a run-scoring double in the eighth off Ryan Madson.

Carl Edwards Jr. threw a perfect inning and Wade Davis finished the two-hitter for a save.

Unlike No. 1 overall draft pick Strasburg, Hendricks went in the eighth round. Unlike Strasburg, Hendricks has never been an All-Star. Unlike Strasburg, who already has signed a $175 million, seven-year deal that begins next season, Hendricks earned less than $800,000 in 2017.

But this was Hendricks’ time to shine.

“He was tricking us tonight,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said, “and seems like those kind of guys give us more trouble than guys who throw hard.”

The slender righty, who led the NL in ERA last season, gave up a single in the first and another in the second — and that was it for the Nationals.

He walked three batters and struck out six.

“He knows the scouting report,” said Jon Lester, who starts Game 2 on Saturday for Chicago against fellow lefty Gio Gonzalez. “He knows where guys’ weaknesses are.”

Harper — wearing shoes with “Pray for Las Vegas” written on the side following the recent mass shooting in his hometown — was 1 for 4 as he tries to regain his timing after returning last week from a 42-game injury absence. Otherwise, Washington’s elite hitters — Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and Jayson Werth — were a combined 0 for 17 with three walks.

“Definitely, your confidence builds,” Hendricks said, “when you start seeing those swings.”

The fact that Hendricks approached 90 mph as often as he did was an aberration he and teammates attributed to adrenaline, but one that helped, of course.

He also knew he needed to be really good, because of what Strasburg was doing.

Strasburg didn’t allow a hit until there were two outs in the sixth. Baez reached on Rendon’s error at third base to start the inning and was sacrificed to second by Hendricks. One out later, Bryant drove in the first run with a single to right-center and went to second when Harper’s throw missed the cutoff man.

Bryant, Rizzo said, managed to “get the monkey off the back in the dugout for all of us.”

Rizzo followed by singling to right in front of a diving Harper to make it 2-0.

With a heavy beard and a lot of sweat on a muggy, 77-degree night, Strasburg dialed up his fastball to 98 mph and mixed in an unhittable changeup. To cheers of “Let’s go, Strasburg!” from many in a sellout crowd of 43,898, he struck out 10 to set a playoff record for the Expos-Nationals franchise.

Strasburg wound up allowing just those two unearned runs in seven innings, with three hits and one walk.

“You’re aware of it,” Hendricks said about Strasburg. “You know how well he’s throwing on the other side.”

Hendricks threw well, too.

“It was,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said, “a masterpiece.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner watches his three-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of Game 1 of a baseball National League Division Series in Los Angeles, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw still hasn’t figured out how to dominate in October. This time, he couldn’t even keep the ball in the yard.

Justin Turner and the Los Angeles Dodgers made sure it hardly mattered in a strong postseason opener.

Turner homered and drove in five runs, Kershaw won despite giving up four long balls and the Dodgers roared to a 9-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night in Game 1 of their NL Division Series.

Turner hit a three-run homer and Yasiel Puig added an RBI double before Los Angeles made its first out against starter Taijuan Walker, who lasted just one inning in his playoff debut. Turner, the red-bearded slugger with postseason poise, added an RBI single in the fourth and another in the eighth to tie the Dodgers record for most RBIs in a postseason game.

With his teammates providing such a generous cushion, Kershaw could afford to allow a few big flies in the first victory of his checkered postseason career at Dodger Stadium. He improved to 5-7 in the playoffs.

“Yeah, he gave up four solo homers, but who cares?” asked Turner, batting .397 with 17 RBIs in his last 17 postseason games. “When you have a lead like that, it’s about attacking guys, not giving up free bases and pounding the zone. So I thought he was spectacular for us tonight.”

Kershaw yielded back-to-back homers into the short left-field porch by light-hitting Ketel Marte and Jeff Mathis on his final two pitches in the seventh, making him the first pitcher in team history and the eighth in baseball history to give up four home runs in a postseason game.

LA’s big lead was down to 7-4 when the three-time Cy Young Award winner left, but the suspense didn’t last: Turner and the 104-win Dodgers added two more runs in the eighth, capping a 12-hit performance.

“It just wasn’t coming out as good as I would have liked it to that last inning,” said Kershaw, who gave up five hits in 6 1/3 innings. “So they hit some good pitches. Not really. I just didn’t have much left. I don’t know. Hopefully, when you give up hits, maybe one or two would stay in the ballpark, but tonight it didn’t seem like that was going to happen. Obviously a frustrating way to end it, but thankfully we had a big lead.”

Game 2 is Saturday night, with Rich Hill facing Robbie Ray and the Diamondbacks in a matchup of left-handers.

Puig and Corey Seager both tripled and drove in two runs for the Dodgers, who finished 11 games ahead of Arizona to earn their fifth consecutive NL West crown.

A.J. Pollock and J.D. Martinez also homered off Kershaw, but Arizona’s euphoria from its wild-card victory over Colorado was erased during a rough first inning in Chavez Ravine. Los Angeles’ first five batters reached base, punctuated by Turner’s shot and Puig’s line-drive double that scored rookie Cody Bellinger.

Arizona ended a five-year playoff absence Wednesday with a rollicking 11-8 victory over the Rockies that was described by manager Torey Lovullo as “one of the most emotional days I’ve had in my career.”

But that tough game bit the Diamondbacks in Los Angeles when Walker needed 48 pitches to get out of the first inning. Playing from behind all night, Arizona couldn’t catch up.

“Well, we have been very resilient,” Lovullo said. “We’ve had some tough losses, and this is playoff baseball. We know that we’re built for moments like this. We’ve been battle-tested all year long. It’s one game. It was a tough day for us.”

Ray was supposed to start this series opener, but was pressed into relief against the Rockies when ace Zack Greinke faltered — and Walker couldn’t come through in his place.

“I just felt like they had a really good game plan against me,” Walker said. “They were sitting on the fastball most of the time.”

Zack Godley pitched five innings of relief, but Turner, Puig and Seager added RBIs in the fourth for a 7-1 lead.

Kershaw struck out seven, but the ace left-hander’s frequent inability to match his regular-season brilliance in October remains a constant presence. He struggled with the long ball again after serving up a career-high 23 homers during the regular season, but still earned his fifth career postseason victory — one shy of the franchise record — in 15 starts.

Pollock made his postseason debut with two extra-base hits in the wild-card game, and he added a homer in the third inning for Arizona’s first hit off Kershaw.

But Seager hit an RBI triple in the eighth, and Turner drove him home.

“We gave them a run for their money there towards the middle, end of the game,” Martinez said. “They had to execute, and they had to put up a couple more runs. So you tip your hat to them, (but) I feel a lot more confident the way we battled back in that game.”

The Diamondbacks still won’t lack for confidence against the mighty Dodgers. Arizona beat its division rivals six straight times down the regular-season stretch, and were one of two teams with a winning record against Los Angeles this season.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.