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RECAP: Nats, Cards Force Game 5, Rays Stun Astros, Yankees Advance to ALCS After Sweep — It’s All Here

Yadier Molina, Willy Adames and Gleyber Torres (Bill Menzel/ Latino Sports)

Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive — St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals Push Game 5, Tampa Bay Rays Hold Onto Hope As They Force Game 4.

 

Molina, Ozuna Fuel St. Louis to Force Game 5

Four teams going into Monday were on the brink of elimination. Three survived and one said goodbye to the 2019 Postseason.

The biggest resurgence of the day came from the Gateway City, as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves with a walk-off sac fly from Puerto Rican native Yadier Molina.

St. Louis fought tooth-and-nail to keep their season alive against the Atlanta Braves as Molina’s walk-off win gave the Cardinals the 5-4 win they needed to send the series back to Atlanta.

It all came down to the 10th inning with runners on the corners for Molina. With Kolten Wong 90-feet away from home plate, Molina swung at the first pitch he saw, sending the baseball deep enough for Wong to tag from third and score the winning run for the Cardinals.

Despite a few atypical defensive struggles in Game 4,  Molina used his at-bats to retaliate his frustrations for his poor defensive plays.

“I was ready to hit the fastball,”  Molina described his game-winning at-bat, “I was lucky enough he missed it right down the middle.”

Molina charged the Cardinals offense before his 10th inning heroics, when he tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning with an RBI single to right field that scored Paul Goldschmidt.

“It’s what this guy lives for, this is exactly what Yadier Molina lives for, this is what he trains for,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt on his All-Star catcher’s walk off sac fly. “Clearly he’s going to have a lot of personal accomplishments, rightfully so, I’m sure they mean something to him. Yadier Molina is about winning and winning championships. Period.”

Molina was not the only Cardinal that lifted the team into Game 5, Marcell Ozuna hit two home runs in Mondays matchup. The first in the first inning, going back-to-back with Goldschmidt, then another sent another moonshot to right field in the bottom of the fourth to give the St. Louis a 3-1 lead.

“I just feel good in that moment,” Ozuna said after going 2-for-5 in Game 4. “I was just ready for that moment, especially with my team hustling and do a good job, I’m ready for it.”

Rays Escape Elimination By Weighing Down Greinke and Astros Bullpen at the Trop

The Tampa Bay Rays stung Zack Greinke and the Houston Astros in three straight innings by taking the six-time All-Star deep with single dingers in the second, third and fourth inning to save themselves from elimination in a 10-3 win at Tropicana Field.

Kevin Kiermaier, Ji-Man Choi, Brandon Lowe unleashed their power early to let Grienke and the Astros know they weren’t going to give the Astros the green light to punch their ticket to the American League Championship Series.

Charlie Morton set a flatline for the Rays’ postseason hopes when he gave up a solo home run to one of the most dominant players in the game, Jose Altuve, in the top of the first inning. However, Kiermaier changed that with a swing of the bat in the bottom of the second inning, giving the Rays a 3-1 boost that fueled their 10-run marathon that ultimately saved their season.

In front of a crowd of 42,203, a 2019 record for the Rays, Santiago, D.R. native Willy Adames added to the power surge by hitting his first postseason home run in the sixth inning off Wade Miley.  After adding to the boat load of insurance runs, the 24-year-old shortstop trotted around third base with a large grin that shed light on the Rays playoff hopes. “One of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” Adames said in a postgame interview. “Especially cuz now we have the win, we force a game four, so it was exciting. My mom and dad, they’re here, so it was special for me.”

Greinke survived only 3.2 innings before being fished out the game for Venezuelan native Hector Rondon.

Nats Wild Night in DC Forces Dodgers Back Home to Face Game 5

If you look close enough, you would believe that the Washington Nationals sprinkled some magic into their 6-1 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the same magic that was used in both the Rays and Cardinals victories Monday night.

Similar to the Rays, despite falling behind early in the game when three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer gave up a solo home run to Justin Turner in the first inning, the Nationals found it within their lineup to battle through and put up the runs they needed to prolong their season.

In a Cardinals win where Yadier Molina set the tone for the game by tying the game and producing the game-winning hit, National League RBI leader Anthony Rendon tied the game and powered the game-leading hit in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead, a lead they never succumbed to in a game where they faced elimination.

In the only city his major league career has ever known, Ryan Zimmerman might as well get himself into the presidential race because of his ability to show-up for a city and team that faces adversity in October time and time again. Zimmerman extended the Nationals lead with a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning off of Pedro Baéz.

Max Scherzer was … well, Max Scherzer. There’s no other way to describe his dominance in Game 4, locking down batters after giving up a first inning home run. He wounded up in jams but did not let the pressure overshadow his Cy Young abilities when he walked into the dugout fired-up after zero damage was done in the seventh inning where the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out.

“We’re a bunch of viejos, we’re old guys. Old guys can still do it,” Scherzer said sitting next to Zimmerman in their postgame interview.

The series shifts back to Los Angeles where both teams will battle for a spot in the National League Championship Series.

Bronx Bombers > Bomba Squad

Yankees Sweep Twins to Advance to American League Championship Series

As champagne sprayed across the Target Field visitors locker room, a team that has defied many odds throughout the 2019 season became the first team to punch their ticket to the American League Championship Series after defeating the Minnesota Twins 5-1 Monday night.

The ALDS does not present an M.V.P. award to a player but it’s certain that the series M.V.P. was 22-year-old Gleyber Torres, who not once faltered under the bright lights of October baseball, but instead fed off of it.

Torres launched a 376-foot home run over the left field wall to give the Yankees an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, his first postseason home run in his young career. “Personally, I’m happy.” Torres said after the game drenched in champagne. “It doesn’t matter if I hit a home run or a double, that is an opportunity to help my team. I just put the ball in play. I know guys behind me do a really good job. So I’m just happy to get opportunity.”

Not only did the young Venezuelan All-Star go 3-for-4 on the night, he made Gold Glove-like defensive plays to halt the Twins’ chances of scoring more than one run in Game 4.

With support from teammates on both sides of the plate, Luis Severino did not cave when he found himself in a nightmare position with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the second inning. Somehow, someway Severino managed to get Miguel Sanó to pop out to DJ LeMahieu (called out by the infield fly rule), have Marvin Gonzalez chase a slider down in the dirt and catch Jake Cave looking at strike three to terminate the ultimate threat.

Severino served four innings of scoreless baseball, only giving up four hits and striking out four, not allowing the Twins offense to cross the plate once before Aaron Boone entrusted his bullpen to hold onto the lead and send the Yankees to the ALCS.

“They made so many big plays in big spots because I really thought the Twins brought it tonight,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after reaching his first ALCS as a manager. “They made it difficult. They had traffic, it seemed like all night. Our guys just kept making big pitches when they needed to and big defensive plays.”

The Yankees showed no signs of fear when facing a Twins team that reflected a terrorizing aura going into the American League Division Series.

A team that doesn’t fear, is a team to fear.

With the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays going into Game 4, the Yankees will have to patiently wait to view their next opponent to battle it out for the American League Pennant.

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