4-homer finale caps Red Sox’s 4th title since ’04

LOS ANGELES — The Boston Red Sox dominated all season, played through pain when necessary and came through when it mattered most, making Chris Sale’s appearance Sunday for the final three outs of a championship the most fitting of final acts.

Sale, a starter who epitomized all of the Red Sox’s best traits, came out of the bullpen and struck out the Dodgers in order in the ninth inning of Game 5 in the World Series to give Boston its fourth World Series title since 2004 with a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Red Sox set up Sale’s final bow by first pounding the Dodgers into submission. World Series MVP Steve Pearce hit two home runs Sunday, while Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez each hit one. The victory was tidy, thorough and never in doubt, providing even more symbolism.

“Best feeling in my life,” said Pearce, who started the season with the Toronto Blue Jays and was dealt to Boston just before the non-waiver trade deadline. “This is what you grow up wishing, that you could be a part of something like this. With that special group of guys out there, to celebrate with them, that was awesome.”

Much as they did while rolling to a major-league-best 108 regular-season victories, the Red Sox also dominated the postseason. Boston lost just once in the World Series, and the Dodgers needed 18 innings and 7 hours, 20 minutes to take Game 3.

The Red Sox went 11-3 overall in the 2018 postseason and were an impressive 7-1 in road games while earning the ninth World Series championship in franchise history, tied for third most all-time with the Athletics franchise (Philadelphia, Kansas City, Oakland). Only the St. Louis Cardinals (11) and the New York Yankees (27) have more.

The Red Sox also became the third franchise to win a World Series in four consecutive appearances, along with the Cardinals and Yankees.

Boston starter David Price, who pounded his chest upon leaving the field after the seventh, went seven-plus innings, giving up a run on three hits and two walks. He struck out five.

Price won his third consecutive postseason start, two in this World Series alone, after not earning a victory in any of his previous 11 playoff starts.

“My confidence was never altered,” Price said. “I always had belief in myself and my abilities. To be able to come through on this stage and in October for myself and my teammates, I know I can do it now. And it’s always a good feeling to have. It’s just good to know.”

Joe Kelly struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth inning, and Sale did the same in the ninth, fanning Manny Machado to end it.

Pearce’s bat put a charge in the Red Sox for the second consecutive game when he hit a two-run home run to center field in the first inning off Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw. He went deep to left in the eighth inning off Pedro Baez. Pearce also hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning of Game 4 on Saturday as the Red Sox rallied for a 9-6 victory.

Betts, the likely American League MVP, was just 4-for-19 in the World Series heading into Game 5, but his sixth-inning home run off Kershaw gave Boston a 3-1 lead. Martinez added to that cushion with a home run off Kershaw to left-center in the seventh.

Kershaw, who now has the choice to opt out of his Dodgers contract, was left with yet another postseason disappointment. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has generally been dominating in the regular season, but he fell to 9-10 with a 4.32 ERA in 30 postseason appearances (24 starts).

“Disappointed … yeah, just disappointed,” said Kershaw, who expects to make a decision on his contract within the next three days. “There’s only one team that can win and we know that, but it just hurts worse when you make it all the way and get second place.”

Kershaw gave up four runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts Sunday, finishing this World Series with an 0-2 record and a 7.36 ERA. David Freese hit a leadoff home run in the first inning for the Dodgers, who finished with just three hits in Game 5.

Los Angeles lost in the World Series for the second year in a row, having dropped the 2017 Fall Classic to the Houston Astros in seven games.

“What (the Red Sox) did was well deserved,” said Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen, who gave up game-tying home runs in the eighth inning of both Games 3 and 4. “They are one of the best teams in history. How they played this year, that’s not a fluke that they won 108 games. We did our best, man. We gave all we got. It’s definitely disappointing, it definitely stinks, but you have to keep your head up, work out in the offseason and try to get better.”

The Red Sox not only went 7-0 in the postseason when facing a left-handed starter, but they were 10-0 when they scored the first run of the game.

Boston manager Alex Cora became just the fifth person to win the World Series in his first season as a major league skipper. Bob Brenly with the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, Ralph Houk with the 1961 Yankees, Eddie Dyer with the 1946 Cardinals and Bucky Harris with the 1924 Washington Senators also accomplished the feat.

“First of all, (the Red Sox) gave me a chance,” said Cora, who was on the coaching staff of last year’s champion Astros. “They saw me as a capable manager and they gave me a chance. It’s funny because when they announced (the hiring), we were flying to L.A. last year between the (AL) Championship Series and the World Series, and ironically enough, we win it here, so it goes full circle.”

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The Red Sox look to take the Series tonight in L.A. Can Kershaw and the Dodgers stay alive?

It sounded like a howitzer. The sound of cork and cowhide echoed off the lumber from Yasiel Puig’s bat as Dodger Stadium roared and shook like an aftershock. Puig’s bomb capped off a four-run sixth inning that felt insurmountable with Rich Hill carving up the Red Sox potent lineup. But then Mitch Moreland teed off Ryan Madson in the top of the seventh, a three-run laser that pulled the Red Sox within one. The next inning Steve Pearce took a Kenley Jensen pitch and hit a solo shot into the Chavez Ravine night sky that tied that game at four. The Red Sox would take the lead on a Rafael Devers RBI single in the ninth and put the game away on Pearce’s bases-clearing double four batters later, all part of a Boston five-run ninth inning.

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After dominating the first two games of the series, it seemed like Boston was on the brink of losing control in Game 4 after Puig’s home run. But the Red Sox did what they’ve done all year long, wear down pitching staffs and come up with timely hits, scoring all nine of their runs after the sixth inning.

The Dodgers were 54-0 when leading by four-runs this season, the only team in baseball to not blow such a lead— until last night. They are just the second team in the last 10 World Series to blow a four-run lead. The only other team? How about the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 against the Houston Astros? Baseball, you’re too cruel.

World Series Game 5: Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers
Time: Sunday, Oct. 28 at 8:15 p.m. ET

TV: FOX

Pitching Matchup: David Price vs. Clayton Kershaw

Three Things to Watch

1. Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher of his generation, and a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Fame player, and one of the greatest Dodgers of all-time. Those are all facts. Here is another fact — Kershaw has not been a very good pitcher in the postseason, and many of his starts have cost his team vital October victories. Fact.

Another fact is that Kershaw’s contract allows for him to opt out at the end of this season — which could be tonight if the Red Sox have their way. If Kershaw decides to walk, he will leave $70 million on the table in the final two years of his deal to play somewhere other than Dodger Stadium for the rest of his career. While I think it’s unlikely Kershaw ever leaves L.A., it is still a distinct possibility, and if he does leave, what will his legacy as a Dodger be?

Again, he has an inevitable date in Cooperstown five years to the minute after he hangs up his cleats, whenever that is. But does Kershaw become the Dan Marino of MLB or this generation’s Barry Bonds? One of the all-time greats to never win one?

That debate is typically a discussion that doesn’t allow for much nuance and the team’s those great players play for are hardly ever criticized as heavily. For Kershaw, the debate may be different. He has had so many opportunities to replicate his regular season dominance in the postseason, making 23 playoff starts in his career but posting a 4.29 ERA in those games, almost two full points higher than his career regular season ERA (2.39).

Tonight, Kershaw makes his 24th career postseason start, the fifth in the World Series, where his ERA balloons to 5.49. He’ll face a Red Sox team coming off the highest of highs from last night’s Game 4 comeback, looking to seal the deal. If Kershaw can deliver a typical regular season Kershaw-like start tonight, with his team facing elimination at home, he can at least re-write one chapter in a narrative that has plagued him for the last decade, whether he decides to stay in L.A. or not.

2. David Price

In a very surprising move, Sox manager Alex Cora has opted to throw lefty David Price in tonight’s Game 5. Price has already started once in this series, in Game 2, and was terrific, giving up just two earned runs in six innings, striking out five. His second straight quality start in the postseason after dominating the Astros in Game 5 of the ALCS.

Price, like Kershaw, has been historically below average in the playoffs compared to his typical all-star like regular seasons, with a career ERA of 4.87 in 22 postseason games (13 starts). But another solid outing tonight, especially on short rest, capped off with a World Series title, would re-write the storybook for Price’s career.

This isn’t the first time that Cora has deployed Price unconventionally in this series. Cora tabbed the lanky lefty to pitch two-thirds of the ninth inning as a reliever in the marathon that was Game 3. Price faced three batters and gave up a walk and a hit each.

While the move to pitch Price tonight is certainly going to raise a brow or two, Cora came into this series patching together his pitching staff and is running out of options. Rick Porcello is a no-go after starting Game 3. Nathan Eovaldi, who was likely to start Game 4, instead pitched six brilliant innings of relief during Game 3, leaving Cora with one option for last night’s Game 4, Eduardo Rodriguez.

The only alternative to Price is starting Chris Sale, who would be pitching on full rest. But the way Cora sees it, if the Red Sox can’t win it all tonight with Price and the bullpen, they still would hold a three-games-to-two lead as the series headed back to Boston for Game 6 and a possible Game 7. Sale would pitch Game 6 with two days of extra rest with the night off tonight and the travel day tomorrow. That is probably the best idea considering the noticeable velocity drop and lack of control that Sale has demonstrated the last month or so.

3. Dodgers’ Bullpen Woes

Dave Roberts needs a hug. Outside of Game 3 when he utilized eight different relief pitchers perfectly, every single pitching change he has made in this series has backfired — especially the choice to pitch Ryan Madson, like, at all.

Madson came into last night’s Game 4 having allowed all five of the runners he inherited in this series to score. So when Roberts called on the 38-year-old right-hander to face the left-handed Mitch Moreland with two-on and one out in the seventh, the collective “Oh, no” at Dodger Stadium was tangible through the TV. Madson started Moreland off with an 85MPH changeup up in the zone, and Moreland finished off Madson by knocking the snot out of that changeup — about 20 rows deep. Puig, playing right field, didn’t move. His gloved hand interlocked with the other behind his head said it all. Madson has now allowed all seven inherited runners to score.

But it gets worse for Roberts and the Dodgers bullpen. Kenley Jensen, the Dodgers closer who didn’t pitch in either of the first two games in Boston, has given up two game-tying solo home runs in the eighth inning of back-to-back games. L.A. cannot win this series unless Jensen is mowing down batters. Jensen simply has not been himself for good chunks of this season as he deals with heart complications. If Roberts doesn’t trust Jensen in the late innings tonight, look for him to go with Pedro Baez, who has been unhittable all postseason.

Final Analysis

The Dodgers gameplay is simple: Clayton Kershaw has to be great. Easy, right? Their bullpen is an overused, unreliable, mess running on fumes. Dodgers relievers surrendered all nine Red Sox runs in the final two innings last night. So how can Roberts trust any of them in high leverage situations when no one outside of Baez has proven they can deliver? Boston will be aggressive against Kershaw, hoping to drive him from the game in the early innings in order to feast on more of the Dodgers bullpen. Unless L.A. can flip the script and tag Price in the early goings, I like the Sox to win their ninth World Series title tonight in Tinseltown.

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Preview: Red Sox at Dodgers

The Boston Red Sox took the first two games of the World Series at home in impressive fashion and are hoping to ride the wave of momentum all the way across the country. The Red Sox will try to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven set when they visit the Los Angeles Dodgers for Game 3 on Friday.

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“We played two good games,” Boston manager Alex Cora told reporters. “(Wednesday’s 4-2 victory was) a tough one. They pitched well. We put some good at-bats. We pitched extremely well. David (Price) was amazing. And then the bullpen did what they’ve been doing during October and now we’re up 2-0.” Cora is using starting pitchers in the late innings to help bridge the gap to closer Craig Kimbrel and got a scoreless inning out of right-hander Nathan Eovaldi in each of the first two games, leaving right-hander Rick Porcello available to start Game 3 opposite Dodgers phenom Walker Buehler. Los Angeles’ hitters struck out a total of 20 times in the first two games and the bullpen failed to come through when it mattered. “We’ve got to find a way to win a baseball game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters. “I think coming in here I thought we played these guys pretty straight up. Obviously, we come out of here going home down 2-0. But they made pitches when they needed to. And when we stressed them, they made the pitch. And then when it flipped, they got the hit, and we didn’t.”

TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, FOX

PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (1-0, 4.22 ERA) vs. Dodgers RH Walker Buehler (0-1, 5.40)

Porcello was roughed up a bit in his American League Championship Series start at Houston on Oct. 17, surrendering four runs on seven hits – two homers – in four innings. The New Jersey native allowed one run in a total of 6 2/3 innings over his first three postseason appearances (one start). Porcello is 22-8 with a 4.11 ERA in 41 career interleague games and could end up being of help with the bat after going 3-for-7 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs during the regular season.

Buehler was knocked around a bit in his first two postseason starts but stepped up in Game 7 of the NLCS and struck out seven while allowing one run over 4 2/3 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. The 24-year-old Vanderbilt product held hitters to a .193 batting average during the regular season while striking out 151 in 137 1/3 innings. Buehler, who is facing Boston for the first time, posted a 1.93 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) at Dodger Stadium during the regular season.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Red Sox are 17-for-41 with 31 RBIs with runners in scoring position and two outs during the postseason.

2. Dodgers 1B/3B David Freese is 5-for-8 in his last three games.

3. The last team to come back from a 2-0 deficit to win the World Series was the 1996 New York Yankees.

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Preview: Dodgers at Red Sox

David Price recorded his first career playoff victory as a starting pitcher in his 12th attempt and now looks to make it two in a row when the Boston Red Sox host the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday for Game 2 of the World Series. The left-hander set aside his longstanding postseason struggles with six scoreless innings in the American League Championship Series-clinching win over Houston.

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Price, who will be trying to help Boston take a 2-0 series lead, was bombarded with questions and routinely ridiculed for his October issues and admitted Tuesday that he feels a lot less pressure now that he is 1-9 as a starter. “It’s definitely a weight lifted off of me, for sure,” Price said during his press conference. “Not like food tastes better or anything like that. But it was time. And I’m definitely glad that the time came and we moved past it. And I look forward to doing the same thing (Wednesday).” The Red Sox recorded an 8-4 win in Game 1 as Andrew Benintendi had four hits and Eduardo Nunez belted a pinch-hit, three-run homer, while Manny Machado drove in three runs for the Dodgers. “Our guys, like you’ve seen all year, are going to fight,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said in his postgame press conference. “And we don’t expect (the Red Sox) to give us anything. So we expect it to be a hard-fought series.”

TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, FOX

PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-1, 4.40 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH David Price (1-1, 5.11)

Ryu never has pitched in Fenway Park and took some time to study the playing field dimensions on Monday. “When I was in Korea, I only saw Fenway Park through TV, and same like here in the States,” the South Korean said through a translator during his press conference. “It took me this long to actually get here to the Fenway Park. And my initial reaction to the Green Monster is, it’s very tall. I don’t think there is going to be much difference between a left-handed pitcher and a right-handed pitcher because the dimension is still going to stay the same regardless.” The 31-year-old Ryu is 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA in six career postseason starts.

While Price is happy to have a winning start on his postseason resume, Red Sox manager Alex Cora insists the 33-year-old is going about his business in his typical fashion. “Nothing has changed,” Cora said during a press conference. “He talked about it, obviously, after the clincher, that he doesn’t have to answer questions, but he knows that his next start is a big start. (Wednesday) is going to be a big one. So we count on him.” Price is 3-9 with a 5.04 ERA in 20 career postseason appearances (12 starts), with the first two wins coming as a reliever.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Red Sox are 8-0 this postseason when scoring first.

2. Benintendi joined Wally Moses (Game 4, 1946) and Jacoby Ellsbury (Game 3, 2007) as the only Boston players with four hits in a World Series game.

3. Los Angeles DH Matt Kemp became the 36th player to homer in his first World Series at-bat.

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Preview: Dodgers at Red Sox

The Los Angeles Dodgers are back in the World Series for the second straight season and the Boston Red Sox won a franchise-record 108 games this year. The powerful teams begin pursuit of a championship when the Red Sox host the Dodgers on Tuesday in Game 1 of the Fall Classic at Fenway Park.

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Boston is searching for its fourth World Series crown in 15 years while the Dodgers are attempting to end a title drought that dates to 1988. Left-handers Chris Sale (Red Sox) and Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles) square off in the opener of the best-of-7 series in which Boston is viewed as favorites. “I like the underdog role,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said at Monday’s press conference. “I do know that everyone in our clubhouse doesn’t see it as icing on the cake. It’s been our goal since last year to win a World Series. So it’s a good club over there but we still like our guys, and it’s going to be a good one.” The Red Sox rolled through the defending World Series champion Houston Astros in five games in the American League Championship Series while Los Angeles prevailed in seven games over the Milwaukee Brewers on the National League side.

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TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, FOX

PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw (2-1, 2.37 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH Chris Sale (1-0, 3.48)

Kershaw will be pitching at Fenway Park for the first time during a stellar career that includes three NL Cy Young Awards. “I don’t really think about that stuff,” Kershaw said during a press conference. “I appreciate the history and everything that goes along with Fenway Park. … Check this one off as far as pitching (Tuesday), but I don’t really think about the history part of it too much, honestly.” The 30-year-old Kershaw has experienced mixed results in the postseason and stands 9-8 with a 4.09 ERA in 28 career appearances (22 starts).

Sale will be pitching for the first time in 10 days and said he is fully healthy now after his mysterious stomach ailment that led to him being hospitalized and missing a start in the ALCS. “There’s no holding back now, I think,” Sale said during a press conference while sidestepping questions about the stomach. “My job’s been the same since the first day I got here. You hand me the ball when you want me to throw it, and take it out of my hand when you want me to stop.” The 29-year-old Sale is 1-2 with a 5.85 ERA in five career postseason appearances (three starts).

WALK-OFFS

1. Two left-handers will again match up in Wednesday’s Game 2 as Roberts tabbed Hyun-Jin Ryu to start and Red Sox manager Alex Cora chose David Price.

2. RF Mookie Betts continues to work out at second base as Boston looks to get DH J.D. Martinez into the lineup in an outfield spot when the series moves to Dodger Stadium for Games 3-5.

3. Matt Kemp will serve as Los Angeles DH with the opener being in an AL ballpark.

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World Series Game 7 Recap

George Springer powered the Houston Astros to the franchise’s first World Series championship, crushing a two-run home run in the second inning Wednesday that gave his club a commanding lead on the way to a 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7.

In a World Series that saw back-and-forth battles nearly every game, only the Astros got off and running in Game 7, and the Dodgers never recovered from Houston’s five-run outburst in the opening two innings.

The Astros won their first title in just their second World Series appearance, after falling short in 2005. The Dodgers have six titles but remain without a championship since 1988.

Springer, who was named the World Series MVP, tied a record for most home runs in one World Series with five, joining the New York Yankees’ Reggie Jackson (1977) and the Philadelphia Phillies’ Chase Utley (2009). He also became the first player to hit home runs in four consecutive games of the same World Series.

The blast also gave Springer a record eight extra-base hits in a single World Series. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Willie Stargell (1979) previously held the record with seven.

Springer’s home run Wednesday chased Dodgers starter Yu Darvish after just 1 2/3 innings, as the Astros were productive inside of those five outs by the right-hander. Darvish gave up five runs (four earned) on three hits and a walk.

Darvish (0-2) recorded just 10 outs during his two World Series starts in Games 3 and 7.

The Astros got things going early when Springer doubled to lead off the game. He scored when first baseman Cody Bellinger could not hit Darvish on a throw to first base after a ground ball from Alex Bregman. The Astros made it 2-0 when Bregman stole third and scored on a groundout by Jose Altuve.

Just before Springer delivered his two-run blast, the Astros made it 3-0 when starting pitcher Lance McCullers grounded out to bring home a run. Springer then lifted a 3-2 fastball into the seats in center field.

Bellinger’s rough day was only starting with the errant throw. He also struck out in his first two at-bats to extend his consecutive strikeout streak to six plate appearances. He added a third strikeout to give him a record 29 whiffs in this postseason alone, breaking the record that the Yankees’ Aaron Judge held for all of 11 days.

McCullers delivered a scoreless 2 1/3 innings to open the game, but he was far from sharp, hitting four Dodgers batters, including Justin Turner twice. He was supported by four relievers out of the beleaguered Astros bullpen, although one of those relievers pressed into service was starter Charlie Morton.

The Astros’ bullpen entered with a 7.29 ERA after the first six games but had its day in Game 7, giving up just one run on three hits over the final 6 2/3 innings. Morton (1-0) earned the victory, giving up just one run on two hits with a walk and four strikeouts over the final four innings.

Pinch hitter Andre Ethier drove in the Dodgers’ only run on a sixth-inning single off Morton. It was Ethier’s Dodgers’ record 51st appearance in a postseason game.

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MLB World Series Preview

The Los Angeles Dodgers took game number one over the Houston Astroes. Twenty-four hours later and we are back at it again for game two of the World Series. Select your fantasy draft picks from the MLB World Series Cross Sports Game. Finish off your remaining selections with some NBA action. A total of four games to choose from. Check out the Astros versus Dodgers preview along with with the NBA games below and join the action for cash prize!!!   >>>Click here to join the game<<<

Hoston Astros vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Justin Verlander is 4-0 during his stellar postseason run and looks to continue the success when the Houston Astros visit the Los Angeles Dodgers for Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday (8:09 p.m. ET on FOX). Verlander will aim to help Houston knot the series after Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner guided the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory in Game 1. Kershaw allowed one run and three hits with 11 strikeouts over seven innings while Turner belted a tiebreaking two-run homer (his fourth of the postseason) in Tuesday’s victory.

Verlander was acquired from Detroit by the Astros to fortify their rotation, and now he’s a symbol of a franchise looking for its first World Series title in the wake of a damaging hurricane that ravaged Houston in August.

PITCHING MATCHUP

Astros RH Justin Verlander (4-0, 1.46 ERA) vs. Dodgers LH Rich Hill (0-0, 3.00)

Verlander has a stellar 11-5 postseason record, but none of those victories occurred in the World Series, where he went 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in three career starts for the Tigers. The 34-year-old’s arrival in Houston changed the complexion of the rotation, providing the team with a second ace alongside Dallas Keuchel as well as raising the stature of the organization.

Hill is 1-2 with a 3.96 ERA in six career postseason starts and is making his World Series debut. The 37-year-old is trying to keep the moment in perspective after his major-league career appeared to be finished in the summer of 2015, when he signed with the independent Long Island Ducks, but 26 of his 50 career regular-season victories have come since that stint.

San Antonio Spurs vs Miami Heat

The San Antonio Spurs have not yet needed MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, who remains out while dealing with right quadriceps tendinopathy. The Spurs will try to stay undefeated when they kick off a four-game road trip by visiting the Miami Heat, who will be missing one of their stars as well, on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET on ESPN).

San Antonio is relying more on LaMarcus Aldridge with Leonard out, and the veteran power forward is responding by averaging 24.3 points and 9.3 rebounds. Aldridge is also helping out on the defensive end and provided the highlight of Monday’s 101-97 win over the Raptors with a chase-down block of Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry as the Spurs held their third consecutive opponent under 100 points to start the season. Aldridge could have some extra room to work with down low on Wednesday with Heat center Hassan Whiteside expected to miss his third straight game with a bone bruise on his left knee.

Indiana Pacers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Paul George faces his former organization for the first time since his acrimonious departure when the Oklahoma City Thunder host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET on FSN Indiana & FSN Oklahoma). George was a four-time All-Star in his seven seasons with the Pacers but requested a trade during the summer and now is teammates with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony in Oklahoma City. Indiana acquired guard Victor Oladipo and post player Domantas Sabonis in the deal, and the former is thriving with back-to-back 28-point efforts – including 11-of-16 shooting in Tuesday’s 130-107 rout of Minnesota. The Pacers will be without center Myles Turner (concussion/neck) for the fourth straight game.

Memphis Grizzlies vs Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks are the lone remaining winless team in the Western Conference and have the misfortune of going up against one of the few teams that remains undefeated when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday in the first of a back-to-back, home-and-home set (8:30 p.m. ET on FS Southeast (Memphis) & FS Southwest (Dallas)). The Mavericks are being outscored by an average of 14.3 points and were crushed 133-103 at home by the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Monday.

Dallas, which travels to Memphis on Thursday for the start of a stretch with six of nine on the road, allowed 40 points in the first quarter and 68 in the second half on Monday. The Grizzlies showed off their defensive might by holding the explosive Houston Rockets to 14 fourth-quarter points in a 98-90 win on Monday and entered play Tuesday second in the NBA in opponent’s field-goal percentage at 39.6.

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MLB World Series Preview

The Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers will duke it out for baseball most valuable prize. It’s time for the World Series and it all starts tonight. Select your fantasy draft picks from the MLB World Series Cross Sports Game. Finish off your remaining selections with some NBA action. A total of three games to choose from. Check out the Astros versus Dodgers preview along with with the NBA games below and join the action for cash prize!!!   >>>Click here to join the game<<<

Houston Astros vs Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988, while the Houston Astros have never been crowned champions in their 56-season history. The teams begin their attempts to end their respective droughts when Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw pitches against Houston’s Dallas Keuchel in Game 1 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium (8:09 p.m. ET on FOX).

The Dodgers are in the World Series for the first time since their memorable 1988 slaying of the Oakland Athletics, a series best known for limping Kirk Gibson’s decisive Game 1 homer. The Astros lost to the Chicago White Sox in the 2005 World Series and this season’s 101-win squad knocked out the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees to reach the Series. The Dodgers, who won 104 regular-season games, rolled through the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs with standout third baseman Justin Turner excelling by going 12-for-31 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in the eight games.

PITCHING MATCHUP:

Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (2-1, 2.60 ERA) vs. Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 3.63 ERA)

Keuchel has struck out 25 in 17 1/3 innings over three starts this October and is a solid 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA in six career postseason appearances (five starts). The 29-year-old former Cy Young Award winner scanned the Dodgers’ lineup and had no trouble anointing it as the best he’ll face all season.

Kershaw has served up six homers in three starts this postseason but his career ledger has improved to 6-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 21 appearances (17 starts). The 29-year-old three-time Cy Young winner is 3-2 with a 2.38 ERA in eight career starts against the Astros and has experienced struggles with Astros star second baseman Jose Altuve (6-for-15, four doubles).

New York Knicks vs Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics finally earned their first win and then got three days off to figure out how to keep their emotions in check and move forward without Gordon Hayward. Kyrie Irving will be a little lighter in the wallet by the time the Celtics try to even their record against the visiting New York Knicks on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET on MSG (New York) & NBCSN Boston).  Irving had an altercation with a fan in the tunnel at halftime in Philadelphia and used a profanity, earning himself a $25,000 fine from the league. The Knicks have a young team and are still looking for their first win after squandering a 21-point lead in a 111-107 loss to the Detroit Pistons in the home opener on Saturday.

Indiana Pacers vs Minnesota Timberwolves

Andrew Wiggins is fresh off a dramatic game-winning shot and the 22-year-old shooting guard seeks to post his fourth consecutive 20-point outing to open the campaign when the Minnesota Timberwolves host the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET on FSN Indiana & FSN Minnesota-Plus). Wiggins banked in a last-second shot from more than 30 feet out to give the Timberwolves a 115-113 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. Wiggins, who is averaging 24.7 points, recently signed a five-year, $148 million extension and was prepared to take the decisive shot. Indiana is rebuilding after trading star forward Paul George to Oklahoma City. They are receiving strong play from guard Victor Oladipo (22.3 average), who was acquired in the trade. The Pacers will be without starting center Myles Turner (concussion, neck) for the third straight game.

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Posted in MLB, NBA

MLB Post-Season Team-by-Team Outlook

After six months and a calendar of 162 games, we are ready for the major baseball series. FanPicks will cover all the daily fantasy baseball post-season games. What are you waiting for? Reserve your spot for the upcoming wild cards matchups between the Twins and the Yankees, and the Rockies versus the D-Backs on the National side. It’s starting Tuesday Night. Here’s an outlook of every team who made it in.

Minnesota Twins

The surprise team of the year. They are young, dynamic, dashing and barely have enough output from their starting pitchers to qualify in the playoffs. They are the potential cinderella’s of the post-season story.

New York Yankees

A dangerous formation. Undoubtedly the most formidable big bats staff in the playoffs. The catch is that they have to take the lead in the first five innings. Aaron Judge will need the support of his teammates. Jacoby Ellsbury had a good end of the season, which is reassuring.

Boston Red Sox

For the first time in their history, the Red Sox have won the title of their section two years in a row. They did it without much power, which is far removed from their usual identity. The pitchers held the fort throughout the season, but the relief proved less effective after Joe Kelly’s injury.

Cleveland Indians

They are even more formidable than last year as they pushed the world series in seven games in the absence of starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. This year, they are healthy and Trevor Bauer is among the elite. The Indians have a depth that few teams can boast, both on the mound and on the attack.

Houston Astros

The Astros have a devastating attack made up of young people who are hungry for a championship ring. Carlos Correa is finally back a 100 percent healthy. Getting Justin Verlander in the rotation was the missing piece they needed.

Colorado Rockies

The Colorado pitching staff is largely underestimated, led by a gang of young starters (German Marquez, Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela).

Arizona Diamondbacks

Among the teams drafted, the D-Backs are maybe the one that has the best chance of going all the way. JD Martinez came in to support Paul Goldschmidt after his acquisition of the Detroit Tigers. And Zach Greinke is no longer alone. Robby Ray and Patrick Corbin, the latter with a good second half of the season, give depth to the mound.

Washington Nationals

A strong team on paper, but with a lot of question marks. Is Bryce Harper ready? What about Max Scherzer? The lack of control of Gio Gonzalez on the big occasion is not very reassuring, especially against the Chicago Cubs, whose attack has been the best of the National League since the break.

Chicago Cubs

The World Series champions are back in series. Quietly entering in the playoff picture, they have been consistent since early July with an attack that produced as expected. They have several challenges on the mound though. Another trip to the world series is not out of the question.

Los Angeles Dodgers

How can a team that plays for, 800 for more than a month can have a sequence of 1-15 thereafter? The Dodgers are an enigma and even with a season-end of 8-2, doubts remain. Who will support Kershaw? Seager, Bellinger and Turner can not do it alone.

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Posted in MLB

MLB World Series Game 7 Recap

CHICAGO CUBS WIN!!!

Going to extra innings was merely a minor inconvenience for a team that waited 108 years to win the World Series (Join FanPicks). It took a while, but for the first time in more than a century, the Chicago Cubs are the last team standing. The Cubs scored two runs in the top of the 10th inning, then held on to beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7 Wednesday night at Progressive Field in a wild seventh game of the World Series. They’ve captured their first championship since 1908, as Series MVP Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero came through with run-scoring hits in the 10th.

The Game 7 loser is now the major league team with the longest World Series drought. Cleveland last won the World Series in 1948. The Indians took a three-games-to-one lead with a 7-2 win in Game 4 at Wrigley Field, but the Cubs won the last three games of the series, outscoring Cleveland 20-13 in that span. The Cubs are only the seventh team in history to win a World Series after being down 3-1. They are the first team to win Games 6 and 7 on the road since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates did it in Baltimore. Cleveland had the home-field advantage in the series but lost three of the four games played at Progressive Field. Cleveland’s last visit to the World Series also ended with an extra-inning loss in Game 7. The 1997 Florida Marlins topped the Indians 3-2 in 11 innings.

10th Inning Highlights

On Wednesday, with the score tied at 6, and after a 17-minute rain delay, Kyle Schwarber led off the top of the 10th inning with a single off Bryan Shaw (0-1). Albert Almora pinch-ran for Schwarber. Kris Bryant flied out to deep center field, allowing Almora to move to second. The Indians then intentionally walked Anthony Rizzo. Zobrist lined a double into the left field corner, scoring Almora and moving Rizzo to third. The Indians intentionally walked Addison Russell, but Montero foiled that strategy as well by stroking a single to left field to make it 8-6.

Cleveland, refusing to go quietly, scored a run in the bottom of the 10th. With two outs and nobody on base, Brandon Guyer singled off Carl Edwards Jr. and then took second on defensive indifference. Rajai Davis lined a single to center, scoring Guyer to make it 8-7. Mike Montgomery relieved Edwards and retired Michael Martinez on groundout to third base, ending the game and starting the celebration in Chicago.

Posted in MLB

MLB World Series Game 7

Cubs vs Indians (3-3)

A longstanding drought will end for either the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night while the other team will be flooded with heartbreak. The visiting Cubs forced a decisive World Series Game 7 with Tuesday’s 9-3 victory. They are aiming to win their first pennant since 1908 while the Indians are trying to break a rut that dates back to 1948 (Enter Contest).

Chicago recovered from a 3-1 deficit to win the last two games but has yet to solve Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, who is looking to become the first starting pitcher since Detroit’s Mickey Lolich in 1968 to record three victories in a single World Series. Chicago shortstop Addison Russell (age 22) is coming off his own sterling performance as he became the second youngest player to hit a grand slam (behind New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle) and matched the Series record of six RBIs. He joins Yankees Bobby Richardson (1960), Hideki Matsui (2009) and former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols (2011) among that select group of 6 RBIs in a World Series.

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant went 4-for-5 in Game 6 and homered for the second straight game while first baseman Anthony Rizzo also had a homer among three hits. Kyle Schwarber is batting .333 for the Cubs in the World Series despite missing the previous six-plus months due to knee surgery. Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, who grew up in the Chicago area, had three hits and a homer in two of the past three games.

PITCHING MATCHUP

Cubs RH Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 1.31 ERA) vs. Indians RH Corey Kluber (4-1, 0.89)

Hendricks, who won 16 regular-season games, took a no-decision in Game 3 of the World Series when he allowed six hits and two walks in 4 1/3 scoreless innings. The 26-year-old is ecstatic to have the opportunity to help the Cubs end their 108-year title drought.

Kluber has struck out 15 in 12 innings during the World Series while allowing just one run in his two victories. He has repeatedly had his best stuff during the postseason despite regularly pitching on short rest and manager Terry Francona has been impressed that the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner has remained sharp.

The one-sided affair in Game 6 allows the Indians to have stellar left-hander Andrew Miller (0.53 ERA, 29 strikeouts in 17 postseason innings in 2016) and right-handed closer Cody Allen (22 strikeouts in 11 2/3 scoreless innings in 2016) rested for Game 7 while Cubs left-handed closer Aroldis Chapman pitched 1 1/3 innings on Tuesday despite the margin.

Posted in MLB

MLB World Series Game 6

Cubs vs Indians (Indians lead 3-2)

The World Series Game 6 could be decided by the team that gets a lead early and turns things over to the bullpen. The Chicago Cubs finally became that team with the early lead and the dominant reliever in Game 5 and play another elimination game when they visit the Cleveland Indians for Game 6 on Tuesday (Enter Contests). The Cubs, who trail 3-2 in the series, asked Aroldis Chapman to record eight outs in a one-run game Sunday and were rewarded when he allowed one hit and struck out four. The Indians, who used left-hander Andrew Miller for multiple innings since the start of the postseason, are keeping things loose while following the lead of manager Terry Francona.

Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is batting .421 in the World Series and hit safely in four of five games, going 0-for-3 in the Arrieta-started Game 2. Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber is expected to return to the lineup as DH. Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks would start a potential Game 7 against the Indians ace Corey Kluber, who pitched Games 1 and 4.

PITCHING MATCHUP

 Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (1-1, 3.78 ERA) vs. Indians RH Josh Tomlin (2-0, 1.76)

Arrieta took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in Game 2 at Cleveland and ended up with the win, his first of the postseason. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner had a little trouble controlling his arsenal with three walks, but struck out six.

Tomlin surrendered two hits in 4 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 3 and was yanked by Francona at the first hint of trouble in a game the Indians went on to win 1-0. The 32-year-old Texan allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last eight appearances going back to the regular season and yielded one home run in that span. Tomlin is going on three days’ rest in Game 6 but only threw 58 pitches in Game 3.

Posted in MLB

MLB World Series Game 5 Recap

Indians vs Cubs (Indians lead 3-2)

Aroldis Chapman usually never works much more than an inning as Chicago Cubs closer. With a win-or-be-eliminated situation in the World Series Game 5, Cubs manager prepared Chapman to be ready to enter the game earlier if needed to. Chapman worked a season-high 2 2/3 innings in relief to preserve a one-run lead as the Chicago Cubs stayed alive in the World Series Game 5 with a 3-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Chapman struck out four, including Jose Ramirez for the final out to secure his fourth postseason save. He threw 42 pitches to 10 hitters and secured Chicago’s first World Series win at Wrigley Field since Game 6 of the World Series on Oct. 8, 1945 against Detroit. The Cubs now trail 3-2 as the World Series shifts back to Cleveland for Game 6 on Tuesday (Enter Contests). Game 7, if necessary, would be played Wednesday in Cleveland.

Game Highlights

Chicago denied the Indians’ bid to clinch their first World Series championship since 1948. Cubs’ starter Jon Lester improved to 3-1 in the postseason (1-1 in the World Series) after allowing two runs over six innings. He threw 90 pitches with 42 coming in his final two innings. Indians starter Trevor Bauer (0-2 in the series and the postseason) gave up three runs in a four-inning outing.

Jose Ramirez gave the Indians a 1-0 lead by hitting a two-out home run to left on an 0-1 pitch. It was his first home run of the postseason. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant matched it in the fourth with a leadoff home run to left, his second of the postseason, as the Cubs started to rough up Bauer in what turned into a three-run fourth. Cleveland cut a 3-1 deficit in half in the sixth off Lester as Francisco Lindor’s two-out base hit to center scored Rajai Davis.

In the seventh, Mike Napoli reached on a leadoff single off reliever Carl Edwards Jr. and advanced to second on a passed ball. The Cubs then turned to Chapman, who closed the inning without any scoring. Chapman struck out Yan Gomes to open the eighth but was out of position when first baseman Anthony Rizzo stopped a Rajai Davis grounder down the line but had no one to throw it to. Davis, the potential tying run, then stole second with one out and third with two gone. However, Chapman ended the threat by striking out Lindor looking.

Despite the loss, the Indians return to Cleveland with two chances to clinch the World Series. The last time the Indians clinched the World Series at home was in 1920 against Brooklyn Dodgers.

Posted in MLB