MLB

MLB playoffs 2021: Ninth-inning heartbreak for Giants as Dodgers progress to NLCS

By Sports Desk October 15, 2021

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their spot in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) for the fifth time in six seasons after a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants in the winner-takes-all showdown.

The Giants suffered ninth-inning heartbreak in Game 5 of the Division Series decider after Cody Bellinger drove in the go-ahead run, while the MLB playoff concluded in contentious fashion on Thursday.

Dodgers ace Max Scherzer – in his 432nd career appearance – got his first professional save for the Dodgers after former NL MVP Bellinger continued his bright postseason by driving in Justin Turner for the decisive run in the ninth.

The Dodgers, who became the first team in MLB playoff history to have their relievers pitch 8.0-plus innings with 12 or more strikeouts and no walks in a game, will now face the Atlanta Braves in the best-of-seven NLCS, starting on Saturday.

After five scoreless innings, the game came to life in the sixth with Corey Seager landing an RBI double from starting pitcher Logan Webb to drive Mookie Betts home to give the Dodgers the lead.

Betts finished the game with four hits, becoming the first player in Dodgers history to achieve the feat in a winner-takes-all playoff contest.

But the Giants responded immediately with Darin Ruf crushing a solo homer to level the game up at the bottom of the sixth inning.

Giants ace Webb finished with seven strikeouts across seven innings, while Julio Urias came on in the third inning, tossing down five K's across four innings.

At the top of the ninth inning with two runners on, Bellinger hit Camilo Doval low into right centerfield with an RBI single.

Bellinger delivered the game-winning RBI in a serious-clinching victory for the fifth time in his career – the most by any player in MLB postseason history, according to Stats Perform.

The game ended on a controversial call for Wilmer Flores' check swing from Scherzer's slider called a swing and third strike to end the Giants' campaign following their remarkable 107-55 regular season.

 

Red Sox at Astros

The opening game of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) takes place on Friday as the Houston Astros host the Boston Red Sox. Framber Valdez and Chris Sale will start on the mound for the respective sides.

Related items

  • Australia out to prove Gabba remains a fortress as Cummins era starts with Ashes battle Australia out to prove Gabba remains a fortress as Cummins era starts with Ashes battle

    Australia will be expected to ensure normal service is resumed in the heat of an Ashes battle at the Gabba when they start a new era on Wednesday.

    The Tim Paine sexting scandal presented Pat Cummins with the opportunity to become the first fast bowler to captain the Australia Test side.

    Cummins was appointed less than a fortnight before his side start their defence of the urn against fierce rivals England, with Steve Smith his assistant as Paine takes an indefinite mental health break from cricket. 

    The paceman has long since been talked of as a potential successor to Paine and gets his chance earlier than expected.

    Cummins was already on a high from playing his part in Australia's maiden T20 World Cup triumph in Dubai last month and should thrive on the extra responsibility of being skipper.

    Australia have not played a Test since they were consigned to a 2-1 home defeat to India in January and although England have had plenty of action in the longest format this year, poor weather in Brisbane has badly hampered their preparations.

    Stats Perform picks out some of the storylines, sprinkled with some Opta data, from an Australia perspective before one of the great sporting rivalries gets under way again.

     

    Cummins to get Australia going?

    Cummins has led Australia's pace attack on many occasions and was the pick of the bowlers in a 2-2 Ashes series draw in England two years ago, taking 29 wickets at average of 19.62.

    Since the start of 2018, no bowler has claimed more scalps in the longest format than the 28-year-old's 128 - which have come at 19.9 apiece.

    Cummins, the number one Test bowler in the world, will no doubt be licking his lips at the prospect of ripping into what has been a fragile England batting line-up.

    Josh Hazlewood will also pose a huge threat and Mitchell Starc will be out to silence critics such as Shane Warne, while Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser show Australia's strength in depth in the pace ranks.

    Gabba no longer a fortress?

    Australia had not lost a Test at the Gabba for 33 years until India's famous victory in January.

    Joe Root fanned the flames last month by stating the hostile Brisbane venue is no longer such a "stronghold" for Australia.

    It has most certainly not been a happy hunting ground for England, who have only won four of 21 Tests at the stage for the curtain-raiser for the series. The tourists' last Test win at the Gabba came in November 1986.

    England have not won a Test in Australia since January 2011, losing nine and drawing one of their previous 10 contests, and they will be braced for a barrage of pace when they start their quest to regain the urn this week.

    England must find an answer to Smith and Labuschagne 

    The England bowlers had seen more than enough of Smith by the end of the 2019 series.

    He racked up 774 runs at an average of 110.57 from seven innings, reaching three figures on three occasions and scoring a sublime 211 at Old Trafford.

    The former skipper broke his own record for number of runs in a Test series in the 21st century. Only the great Don Bradman (19) and Jack Hobbs (12) have more Ashes centuries than Smith's 11.

    Marnus Labuschagne was also outstanding in England two years ago, averaging 50.42. He has been a revelation at number three and will have a big role to play.

    Australia in safe hands with Carey?

    Alex Carey will take the gloves and make his Test debut at the Gabba in the absence of Paine.

    Carey has plenty of experience at the age of 30 and has 83 international white-ball experiences under his belt.

    He comes into his Test bow on the back of making a timely century for South Australia against Queensland in the Sheffield Shield and has a chance to cement his spot in the side.

  • Freiburg make Bundesliga history in 6-0 first-half mauling of Gladbach Freiburg make Bundesliga history in 6-0 first-half mauling of Gladbach

    Freiburg made Bundesliga history as they put sorry hosts Borussia Monchengladbach to the sword with a ruthless first-half display, moving 6-0 ahead at the break on Sunday.

    Struggling Gladbach were humiliated by high-flying Freiburg, who became the first team in the German top flight to score five goals away from home inside 25 minutes of a match.

    Freiburg had lost their previous two games, but Maximilian Eggestein and Kevin Schade put them two goals up with only five minutes gone.

    Philipp Lienhart, Nicolas Hofler and Lucas Holer got in on the act before Nico Schlotterbeck put rampant Freiburg 6-0 up at half-time.

    Stefan Lainer and Alassane Plea were substituted in the first half of a horror for the Foals, with boss Adi Hutter's job surely hanging by a thread.

    Gladbach had previously been the only side to score five goals in the opening 25 minutes of a match, that coming at home to Braunschweig in October 1984.

  • England skipper Root says Ashes series will define his captaincy England skipper Root says Ashes series will define his captaincy

    Joe Root has predicted the upcoming Ashes series against Australia will "define" his reign as England captain.

    Root will go up against new Australia skipper Pat Cummins in the five-Test series, and he acknowledges results against the old enemy have been the yardstick for judging England captains in the past.

    The 30-year-old's only other series in the role in Australia resulted in a 4-0 defeat four years ago, but Root sees this as an opportunity for himself and his team-mates to make an impact.

    Speaking ahead of the first Test which starts on Wednesday in Brisbane, Root told reporters: "Of course it will define my captaincy – I'm not naive enough to think that it won't – but what a great opportunity.

    "If you look how hard it's been for English captains and English teams [to win in Australia] over the years, it has been something which doesn't happen very often.

    "I'm very excited about it and can't wait for the series to get going."

    Root is the top-ranked Test batsman in world cricket, ahead of Australia's Steve Smith and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.

    In 2021, Root has scored 1,455 Test runs in 12 matches at an average of 66.13, over 500 runs more than India's Rohit Sharma in second place.

    He is also set to overtake Alastair Cook as the player to have won the most caps while captain of England during the series.

     

    "You look at some of the players, some of the individuals, some of the performances guys have put in," Root added. "The senior guys have done it time and time again and the junior guys have shown glimpses of what they can do and their potential.

    "What better stage to really grab a series and make an announcement on the international stage. I'm an Ashes player and I want to live in the history of this great rivalry. That carrot is there for everyone."

    Australia have already named their side for the first Test at the Gabba, including Travis Head and Mitchell Starc.

    The Australians have won seven of their last eight men's Test series against England on home soil, not losing a single match in three of their last four series hosting the Ashes.

    Root said England were not yet in a position to name their team but did suggest that spin would be important, hinting that Jack Leach could feature.

    "We've got all the options on the table right now. We're not going to name a team just yet. We'll have to see a closer forecast and how that pitch changes over the next couple of days," Root said.

    "But I do think it is a good place to bowl spin. If you speak to some of the great spin bowlers from Australia, they've always enjoyed bowling here.

    "It's something we'll weigh up, but we're not in a position to make a call on that right now."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.