The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros clinched their respective MLB play-off series on Monday.
The Dodgers completed a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Division Series (NLDS) with a 3-1 win.
The Astros ended the Boston Red Sox's season, claiming a 5-4 win in game four of the American League Division Series (ALDS).
Meanwhile, the New York Yankees stayed alive in their ALDS against the Cleveland Indians, squaring the series at 2-2 with a 7-3 victory.
The Chicago Cubs edged ahead of the Washington Nationals 2-1 in their NLDS, courtesy of a 2-1 win.
DODGERS NEEDED BELLINGER TO REGAIN FORM
Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger was one of the best stories in baseball this season, hitting 39 home runs. But he has been struggling at the plate the past month, with only one home run since September 16. He entered game three only one-for-10 in the postseason, with six strikeouts. In short, Bellinger was overdue.
An RBI groundout in the first inning was nice. But the solo home run to left center off Zack Greinke in the fifth inning was what the Dodgers have been waiting to see.
The Dodgers have power hitters up and down their lineup – six players hit more than 20 home runs this year – but they need Bellinger hitting the way he did earlier this season.
VERLANDER IN RELIEF AS SALE DOMINATES FOR ALL BUT ONE PITCH
The Astros called on Justin Verlander in the fifth inning hoping for great results in his first career relief outing. On the first batter he faced with an inherited runner on first, Verlander allowed a two-run homer to Andrew Benintendi, surrendering the lead and putting the Astros' postseason life at risk.
After the HR, he tossed 2.2 scoreless innings but that one pitch nearly cost the Astros the game.
On the flip side, Chris Sale was called on in relief and was fantastic for all but two batters. Through four innings he allowed just two hits and no runs. He had his best stuff and was cruising.
The Red Sox just took him out two batters too late. Sale surrendered a game-tying home run to Alex Bregman in the eighth and a single to Evan Gattis, whose pinch-runner Cameron Maybin came around to score on Josh Reddick's single.
Hoping for a similar outing as game one, Indians starter Trevor Bauer flopped on three days' rest Monday, lasting just 1.2 innings. Bauer's curveball, which was nearly unhittable in game one, was torched by Todd Frazier and Aaron Hicks for the first two RBI hits of the game.
Cleveland committed the fewest errors in the AL this season but a fielding error and a passed ball were in part to blame for the two-out rally in the second inning which resulted in four straight hits off Bauer and four runs (zero earned). The Indians finished with an uncharacteristic four errors on the night.
NATIONALS AT CUBS
Jake Arrieta says the hamstring injury that has bothered him the past month is a non-issue. His ERA is a full run better at Wrigley Field than on the road (2.90 versus 3.87). He will face Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark (13-11, 4.57 ERA) with the Cubs 2-1 up.