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The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Oakland Athletics by a score of 5-1. Starting pitcher Charlie Morton got the win, throwing five innings and striking out four batters.
The Rays offense hit four homers in the winner-take-all contest, with Yandy Diaz hitting two on the night. Avisail Garcia and Tommy Pham added homers later on to give Tampa Bay, a comfortable lead.
Tampa Bay will travel to Houston to take on the Astros in a best-of-five ALDS starting on Friday. Houston will host Game 1 and 2, before both teams go back to Florida for Game 3 and, if necessary, Game 4. If the series reaches a Game 5, then the deciding game will be in Houston.
Houston has the distinction of being the odds on favorite to win the American League and the World Series.
When you look at the club it is not hard to see why they are the favorites as the lineup features potential AL MVP Alex Bregman and slugging rookie OF Yordan Alvarez.
But what will win Houston a title is the three-headed monster they have leading their rotation. Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, and Zack Greinke will wreak havoc on opposing lineups and allow Houston’s high-powered offense to overwhelm teams.
Even though they won 103 games, the Yankees will have to travel through Houston to get back to the World Series for the first time since 2009.
The Yankees’ bullpen will be the star of this series as their opponent, the Minnesota Twins have a lineup that set the all-time mark for most homers by a team with 303 in a season, breaking last year’s record set by the Yankees.
If New York’s bullpen falters, the Twins could pull off the upset, something silly to say when considering that Minnesota won 101 games in 2019.
The Twins stunned the baseball world by winning the AL Central after most pundits dismissed their chances before the season.
With a lineup centered around slugging DH Nelson Cruz, the Twins can score runs in bunches and they’ll have to do that to defeat the Yankees, especially since they are starting the series in the Bronx for Games 1 and 2.
For Tampa Bay to cause a stir and win the American League, they’ll need to continue to show the same game plan they displayed in the Wild Card Game with terrific pitching and power hitting.
Starting on the road in Houston to face Verlander, Cole and Greinke will be a tough task to overcome. Expect Houston to sweep the Rays in dominant fashion.
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In dramatic fashion, the Washington Nationals scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the 8th inning to clip the visiting Milwaukee Brewers 4-3. Stephen Strasburg got the win in relief for the Nationals, throwing three innings while striking out four hitters.
Young slugging outfielder Juan Soto got the game-winning hit off Brewers closer Josh Hader. The winning run came across when Milwaukee right fielder Trent Grisham misplayed the single and allowed the run to score.
Washington heads to the west coast to face the Los Angeles Dodgers where the first two games of the NLDS will take place. The Nationals will host Game 3 and Game 4, if necessary. The two teams head back to Dodger Stadium if there needs to be a Game 5.
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Los Angeles, coming off their seventh straight NL West title, have home-field throughout the National League side of the October tournament.
Young ace Walker Buehler will pitch Game 1 in a surprising decision as manager Dave Roberts leaves all-time legend Clayton Kershaw to go in Game 2.
The Dodgers play very well at home and the visiting Nationals, coming off the incredible late-inning win, already burned Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in the Wild Card Game, will have to scramble with a mediocre bullpen that won’t hold these Los Angeles bats.
Perhaps the most fun lineup in the playoffs belongs to the Atlanta Braves. With Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr., the Braves can frustrate an entire pitching staff over a short series.
The Braves pitching staff is certainly the question mark for the team heading into their divisional series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Braves did have a few injuries that kept players out of the final week of the season, so watch closely if players like Freeman and Acuna Jr. struggle at the plate.
The Braves should take care of St. Louis in four games, but if they go five and the Cards march out Jack Flaherty for the second time in the series, all bets are off.
The Nationals will start Patrick Corbin in the first game of the NLDS versus the Dodgers and the lefty knows a thing or two about Los Angeles after spending most of his early career in Arizona.
The problem for the Nats is what happens when their starters come out of the game as the bullpen is a collection of misfit toys discarded by other franchises. That said, with Corbin, Scherzer, and Strasburg all starting games in this series, it could get interesting if Washington can get back to the nation’s capital tied at one game apiece.
This entire series with the Braves is dependent on the arm of their ace, Jack Flaherty. The young right-hander posted the lowest ERA in all of baseball in the second half (0.91) and single-handedly steered the Cardinals to a division title down the stretch.
If the Braves have to face Flaherty twice, especially in a Game 5 scenario, then give me the Cardinals in an upset. Regardless, St. Louis might be the better team in this series with the Braves due to Atlanta’s injury-filled lineup.
Bookmakers are giving Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers the lowest odds to return to the World Series and it is hard not to see how this rematch of the 2017 World Series won’t take place at the end of October.
What will certainly make Houston the favorite in the World Series should they reach the final round is that they will hold the home-field advantage which is incredibly advantageous.
In a seven-game series, the Dodgers would most likely start Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw against Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in Game 1 and 2. Those matchups would happen again in Game 5 and 6 if needed.
Those four games will determine the outcome of the series and if you are an Astros fan, you have to be thrilled to have those two pitching sledgehammers on the mound twice in a World Series.
The odds for the World Series Winner are provided by DraftKings.
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