Kyle Schwarber said "these are the moments that you are never going to forget" after hitting a record-making homer in the Boston Red Sox's 12-3 rout of the Houston Astros in Game 3 of their American League Championship Series.

Schwarber hit another grand slam for the Red Sox, who now lead the Astros 2-1, making them the first MLB team to hit three slams in a single series having hit two in Game 2.

The Red Sox are the first team to have three slams in the postseason since the 1998 Atlanta Braves.

J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers achieved slams in the second game, while Schwarber cleared the bases in the second inning on Monday in Boston and he revelled in a moment of glory.

"These are the moments that you are never going to forget as a player," Schwarber said. 

"This is what we live for. We live to be in the postseason. When you get that first taste, that first experience, you want to keep coming. You want more. 

"It's an addictive feeling, and especially where it's just rocking the whole time and it's rowdy.

"That gave me a headache, and I loved it. I loved every second of it."

 

Asked if a slam was on his mind as he stepped up to the plate, Schwarber replied: "You are trying to get at least one, and not going up there thinking home run. 

"That could turn into a pop-up or something like that, so just trying to not be late. You know a heater is coming there, and just go from there."

The Boston Red Sox made more history as they crushed the Houston Astros 12-3 for a 2-1 lead in the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Kyle Schwarber hit another grand slam for the red-hot Red Sox, who are the first MLB team to smash three slams in a playoff series on their way to a Game 3 win on Monday.

The Red Sox hit two grand slams in their Game 2 demolition of the Astros. According to Stats Perform, Boston are the first team in major league history to have three slams within the first two innings over a two-game span.

After J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers celebrated slams against the Astros in the second game, Schwarber cleared the bases in the second inning in Boston.

Martinez and Devers each homered again, while Christian Arroyo also went deep at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox raced out to another 9-0 lead through three innings before Kyle Tucker's three-run homer got the battered Astros on the board on the road.

Eduardo Rodriguez, who gave up five hits and struck out seven, had retired the first six batters prior to Tucker's bomb.

Martinez and Devers extended the Red Sox's lead in the sixth and eighth inning as the latter became the first ever MLB player to hit for the home run cycle (solo, two-run, three-run and grand slam) over his fist four home runs of a single postseason, per Stats Perform.

The Red Sox got to Jose Urquidy, who allowed six runs and a homer on five hits – walking two – over 1.2 rough innings.

Game 4 is back at Fenway Park on Tuesday

 

Braves at Dodgers

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers are back on home turf as they host the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), trailing 2-0.

The San Francisco Giants want to exercise Buster Posey's $22million club option, with the National League (NL) West champions stressing the star will be a 2022 centrepiece if he wants to be.

Posey starred for the Giants this MLB season, helping the team to a franchise-record 107 wins and their first NL West crown since 2012 before falling to rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

The three-time World Series champion, who opted out of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign, was among a number of Giants players to enjoy a rejuvenation this term.

Posey boasted his best SLG (.499) and OPS (.889) since the Giants were crowned world champions in 2012, while the 34-year-old's 18 home runs were his most since his 19-homer campaign six years ago.

As the dust settles on San Francisco's season, the Giants remain committed to the 2012 NL MVP and seven-time All-Star as long as he wants to continue playing.

"He is in our estimation the best catcher in baseball this year," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told reporters on Monday.

"Obviously want to have conversations with Buster and continue to have internal conversations about that, but having him on this team next year is a high priority."

Zaidi added: "You can talk about his value both in how he played down the stretch and how much we missed him when he went down. Really, really important part of this team.

"The qualifying offer decision we'll have to think more about and I'm sure we'll have some conversations with his representation as we did during the year. He's happy here, I think he feels really appreciated. And we appreciate him.

"He's been one of the best hitters in baseball over the last couple of years. He's a big part of this team and we'll certainly hope that those are productive dialogues."

 

Ronald Acuna Jr feels around "70 per cent fit" in his recovery from a long-term knee injury but is happy to continue playing the role of cheerleader for the Atlanta Braves for the time being.

The 23-year-old was ruled out for the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained in July when attempting an outfield catch against the Miami Marlins.

Acuna was in MVP contention at the time of his injury with a .283 batting average, 24 home runs, 52 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.

While the two-time All-Star has been unable to help the Braves on the field, he has been present in the stands for Games 1 and 2 of his side's National League Championship Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series after coming through in the bottom of the ninth inning for the second consecutive night on Sunday, Eddie Rosario's two-out single securing a 5-4 win in Game 2.

Watching on from the clubhouse has been a frustrating experience for Acuna but, just three months on from surgery on his damaged ACL, he will not rush his return to action.

"Honestly, this is one the hardest moments of my career, to be here at the stadium and not be able to join my team-mates out there," he said through an interpreter. 

"There's nothing you can do about that. So for me, it's just about being here and continuing to give support as if I was playing.

"I feel good, but in the same sense, I feel as good as I did about two months ago. It's kind of been a gradual process. 

"But if I had to put a percentage on it, I'd say I'm about 70 per cent. But that's just my personal opinion as far as I'm feeling. 

"But as far as the return and where I'm actually at, I leave those decisions up to the doctors and trainers.

"I don't have a date in mind. It's a knee. The knee is a big focal point in terms of structure and stability for any athlete. So I'm going to take my time with it for sure."

The Atlanta Braves came through in the bottom of the ninth inning for the second consecutive night as Eddie Rosario's two-out single secured a 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS). 

After winning 18 fewer games than reigning World Series champions the Dodgers during the regular season, the Braves took a 2-0 lead in the NLCS with two wins at home by the slimmest of margins. 

Rosario hit the first pitch from Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen back up the middle, driving home Dansby Swanson from second with the winning run on Sunday.

It was the fourth hit of the night for Rosario, making him the fifth player in postseason history to record at least four hits in a game, including a walkoff. 

The dramatic finish was appropriate for a game that was tight throughout. 

The Dodgers wasted no time getting their offence started, as Mookie Betts singled to lead off the game and Corey Seager followed with a home run. 

A man who performed most of his October heroics for the Dodgers had an answer, though, as Joc Pederson hit yet another postseason home run – his 12th – to tie it up in the fourth. 

The Dodgers jumped back on top in the seventh when Chris Taylor dumped a sinking fly ball in front of onrushing Atlanta centerfielder Guillermo Heredia, who had just entered the game as part of a double switch. 

Even worse for the Braves, the ball got by Heredia, allowing an additional run to score as the Dodgers went up 4-2. 

Some aggressive base-running levelled up the game in the eighth, as Rosario manufactured a run by tagging up on a Freddie Freeman fly out to left field, then came around to score with an acrobatic slide after Ozzie Albies singled. 

Atlanta's Game 1 hero, Austin Riley, then drove a double to the wall in deep left centre to score Albies and make it 4-4. 

After the Braves held the Dodgers scoreless in the top of the ninth, Atlanta's offence came through once again in the end. 

Game 3 is in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

 

Astros at Red Sox

The American League Championship Series (ALCS), tied 1-1, shifts to Fenway Park on Monday as the Houston Astros send Jose Urquidy to the mound against Eduardo Rodriguez and the Boston Red Sox. 

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora says his side's "humble approach" led to their historic multiple grand slam Game 2 performance as they won 9-5 over the Houston Astros.

The Red Sox levelled the American League Championship Series (ALCS) after J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers delivered grand slams in the first two innings.

Boston became the first team in postseason history with multiple grand slams in a game, while there are only five other occasions when a side has hit grand slams in the opening two innings across any majors game, mostly recently in 1984.

Enrique Hernandez also homered in the fourth inning, continuing his excellent run of recent form, setting records for most XBH (nine), hits (15) and total bases (34) across a five-game postseason span.

In seven games, Hernandez has also already tied the Red Sox record for most home runs (five) in a single postseason.

"I think when we have this humble approach that we're not trying to do too much, then big things happen," Cora said at the post-game news conference.

"And J.D., that was great to see [him] going the other way. Raffy, not trying to do too much and hitting the grand slam. It's a very good approach right now. We're not getting greedy.

"Like I said a few days ago, it's not about hitting 30 home runs or driving [in] 100 runs. It's about winning four games against the Astros. So now we got one, and now we go to Fenway."

Cora also hailed starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who improved his record to 8-1 in postseason games for the Red Sox when he plays, including 5-0 when he starts.

Eovaldi lasted five-and-one-third innings, giving up three runs on five hits, one walk and three strikeouts.

"He's been a horse for us, he's been amazing and he went out there and did an amazing job," Cora said.

Cora, whose Red Sox are 5-2 this postseason, was delighted his side would take the series to Boston after splitting the opening two games in Houston.

Max Muncy says missing the National League Championship Series (NLCS) is "one of the worst things" he's experienced after the Los Angeles Dodgers confirmed the injured first baseman's absence.

The Dodgers released their 26-man roster for the NLCS on Saturday prior to the 3-2 walk-off loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 with Muncy left off after dislocating his left elbow in the side's regular season finale on October 3.

Dodgers general manager Dave Roberts said earlier this week there was a "small chance" Muncy would return for the NLCS.

Muncy led the Dodgers for home runs and RBIs across the regular season, hitting at .249. The 31-year-old two-time All-Star hit 36 home runs and 94 RBIs.

"Not playing has been one of the worst things I've ever had to experience," Muncy told reporters.

"It’s one of those things that it’s still really painful and you try and get through it and trying to see where we’re at. I’ve had better days."

Muncy is still wearing a large arm brace, while the Dodgers nor the player have revealed if he has resumed any baseball activities over the past fortnight.

He remains hopeful that he could play in the World Series, which is due to start on October 26, should the Dodgers qualify.

"I’m hoping it’s very realistic," Muncy said. "We’re talking to some doctors and trying to figure out exactly what the next steps will be."

The Boston Red Sox made history as the first team ever to hit multiple grand slams in a postseason game as they defeated the Houston Astros 9-5 to level the American League Championship Series (ALCS) at 1-1.

J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers delivered the grand slams within the first two innings as the Red Sox, who have won 13 consecutive postseason games when scoring first, opened up an 8-0 lead.

Astros rookie right-hander Luis Garcia saw Martinez homer over right field for the first inning grand slam before he left the game with right knee discomfort after 33 pitches.

Garcia was replaced by Jake Odorizzi but with bases loaded and one out, Devers made it 8-0 with his grand slam.

Enrique Hernandez continued his hot postseason form with a solo home run in the fourth inning, which was his third homer of the ALCS. Hernandez has 15 hits in his past five games, which is the most ever in a five-game span in play-offs history.

The Astros rallied with three runs in the fourth inning, before solo home runs in the ninth inning from Yuli Gurriel – who finished the game with three RBIs and two hits – and Jason Castro.

Austin Riley recorded his first career walk-off hit as the Atlanta Braves claimed Game 1 of the National League Champoinship Series (NLCS) 3-2 over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Riley, who homered in the fourth inning to level the game at 2-2, hit a line drive to left field from Blake Treinen to drive in Ozzie Albies, who had already stolen to second base, for the winning run.

The victory was the Braves' 11th postseason walk-off win, leaving the Dodgers to rue Chris Turner's indecision from Cody Bellinger's hit in the ninth inning allowing a rundown. Atlanta only had six hits for the game, along with 14 strikeouts but found a way.

 

Dodgers at Braves

The Dodgers will look to bounce back from Game 1 defeat in the NLCS at the Braves on Sunday with Max Scherzer returning to the mound for the World Series champions.

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker compared Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to NFL greats Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski after the star pair helped take down the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Altuve and Correa each homered for the Astros, who rallied to top the Red Sox 5-4 in Friday's ALCS opener at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The Astros wiped out a 3-1 deficit behind Altuve's two-run homer in the sixth inning – his 20th postseason home run as he became the fourth player to achieve the feat.

Correa then completed the comeback in the seventh with his 18th playoff homer – tied for seven-most all-time, while he recorded his 55th postseason RBI, the most among active players.

Baker hailed Altuve and Correa after the Astros drew first blood in the best-of-seven matchup, likening them to Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstars Brady and Gronkowski.

"It's kind of like Tom Brady and [Rob] Gronkowski," Baker said, with Brady and Gronkowski enjoying great success together with the New England Patriots and now the Buccaneers.

"They know how they think. They know probably what they eat for dinner, what they like and what their kids like."

Altuve became the fastest player (68) to reach 20 playoff home runs.

The World Series winner has now scored 11 runs in Houston's five playoff games this season. According to Stats Perform, that is tied with Carlos Beltran (2004) for the most runs in any five-game span in a single postseason.

"He is just so dangerous," Correa said of Altuve. "His track record in the playoffs is insane, and he just inspires me. He inspires me without saying much."

"When I walk into that clubhouse in spring training and I see this guy that has won MVPs, Silver Sluggers, batting titles, Gold Gloves, Hank Aaron Awards," added Correa. "Every single award you can imagine, he has won it, and then he shows up to spring training wanting to work on different things to get even better."

Correa celebrated his fourth career go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later of playoff games, the most in postseason history.

"He is amazing. He likes this kind of game," Altuve said of Correa. "He wants to go out there and hit big homers. It seems like he expects to go out there and do it, so if you're expecting something, eventually you're going to make it happen, and that's him."

Correa's heroics prompted the Astros star to drop his bat and point to his wrist after homering against the Red Sox.

"It's to my team-mates," Correa explained. "When the playoffs start, they always tell me 'it's your time now to go out there, hit homers.' They told me to hit the watch, when I hit the homer.

"I did it in Chicago [in the ALDS] the first time on my own, and today they told me 'if you hit a homer, hit them with the, it's your time'."

Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve lifted the Houston Astros to a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Correa and Altuve homered as the rallying Astros drew first blood in the best-of-seven series at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Friday.

The Red Sox, who stunned the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Division Series (ALDS), led 3-1 early on the road – Kike Hernandez the architect with a solo shot in the third inning.

But the Astros wiped out the deficit behind Altuve and 6.1 scoreless innings from their bullpen.

Altuve levelled the game with a two-run homer in the sixth inning – his 20th postseason homer as he became the fourth player to achieve the feat.

The Astros star also became the fastest player (68) to reach 20 playoff home runs. Altuve has now scored 11 runs in Houston's five playoff games this season. According to Stats Perform, that is tied with Carlos Beltran (2004) for the most runs in any five-game span in a single postseason.

Correa then completed the comeback in the seventh with his 18th postseason homer – tied for seventh-most all-time, while he recorded his 55th playoff RBI, the most among active players.

It saw Correa celebrate his fourth career go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later of playoff games, the most in postseason history.

Hernandez – the fourth player to have multiple four-plus hit games in the same postseason, after Albert Pujols (2011), Robin Yount (1982) and George Brett (1985), homered again for the Red Sox in the ninth but it was not enough to prevent the Astros from winning.

Game 2 is back at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.

 

Dodgers at Braves

World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers will open their National League Championship Series (NLCS) at the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says Max Scherzer was his "ace in the hole" after using him in the ninth inning for his first career save in Thursday's 2-1 series-deciding win over the San Francisco Giants.

Scherzer slammed the door on the Giants to clinch a 3-2 National League Division Series victory for the Dodgers after Cody Bellinger's RBI single for Justin Turner to score the go-ahead run in the ninth inning.

The 37-year-old right-hander, who had started Game 3 for 10 strikeouts across seven innings, was handed the ball to save the game on this occasion after warming up in the bullpen. It was Scherzer's first career save in his 432nd appearance.

"It was seeing the flow and how the game was going to play out, knowing we have an ace in the hole and trying to find the ultimate leverage spot to use him," Roberts told reporters after the game. "How the game played out, it made a lot of sense."

Roberts had used five pitchers before Scherzer's introduction, starting Corey Knebel before Julio Urias took over in the third inning, tossing down five strikeouts across four innings.

The game was tied at 1-1 leading into the ninth inning when Bellinger, who has had a season to forget, drove in Turner.

Bellinger, the 2019 National League MVP, hit at .165 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs during the regular season, but he has batted at .294 with three RBIs in the postseason.

"Even for me, it's like going into that at-bat prior where he punched, he saw close to 10 punches, he grinded and competed, that last at-bat there was fight in there," Roberts said about Bellinger.

"It wasn't about mechanics, it was about a fight. It was me versus you. Cody versus [Giants pitcher] Camilo Doval.

"He got a huge hit. Like I said, Cody has grown a lot from adversity. For him to come up with the big hit, I'm very happy for him."

The result means the Dodgers have reached the National League Championship Series, where they will face the Atlanta Braves. The Dodgers are through to this stage for the fifth time in six seasons.

LA had to overcome the Giants, who boasted the best majors regular season record at 107-55, but Roberts said they were not content with that.

"I think what great ball clubs have the ability to do, is understand the gravity of a moment and a series in this case," he said. "Give everything you have to that series, which we did.

"It was a huge series but we also understand our job is not done. Now our focus turns to the Braves."

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.

Jorge Soler's availability for the National League Championship Series (NLCS) remains unclear but the Atlanta Braves are preparing to be without him.

Soler, who won the 2016 World Series with the Chicago Cubs, was pulled from the Braves' line-up for Game 4 of the National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Milwaukee Brewers following a positive COVID-19 test.

The 29-year-old will miss at least five days before the joint COVID-19 committee can clear him.

Atlanta are due to open their NLCS matchup against either the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Francisco Giants on Saturday.

Soler moved to the Braves from the Kansas City Royals in July and has hit a combined .223 with 27 homers and 70 RBIs during the regular season.

The Braves are awaiting Soler's clearance having been removed from their 26-man roster, however, manager Brian Snitker is preparing to be without him for the whole best-of-seven NLCS.

"We've got to approach it like I don't know if he'll be here for the NLCS," Snitker told reporters on Thursday.

"That's how we have to approach it. Until he shows up and is cleared and does everything that MLB needs him to do, we're going to look like it's like he's not going to be here."

Soler was the 2019 American League (AL) home run leader with the Royals and delivered 14 home runs and 33 RBIs in 55 games following his move to the Braves.

"I don't know that this team has been dependent, as we've shown, on one guy all year, quite honestly," Snitker added. "The guys keep playing the game.

"Would you like to have him? Yeah. If we don't, so be it. Just go out and win however else we can."

St. Louis Cardinals have parted company with manager Mike Shildt owing to "philosophical differences", president of baseball operations John Mozeliak has announced.

Shildt guided the Cardinals to three straight playoff appearances in his four seasons in charge and was named National League (NL) Manager of the Year in 2019.

The Cardinals earned the second NL Wild Card spot this season after an impressive run of form, though they lost 3-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers last week on a walk-off home run.

Shildt still had another year to run on his contract, but Mozeliak revealed on Thursday that the 53-year-old has been relieved of his duties.

"We decided internally it would be best to separate now," Mozeliak said at a news conference. 

"We have determined that we have a philosophical difference in the direction of our Major League club. 

"Where we felt the team was going, we were struggling to get on the same page."

Shildt, who replaced Mike Matheny in July 2018 after 14 years working in other positions, departs the Cardinals with a record of 252-199.

Walker Buehler was hailed by his team-mate Mookie Betts and manager Dave Roberts after playing a crucial role in the Los Angeles Dodgers' win over the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants had the chance to book their spot in the NL Championship Series (NLCS) on Tuesday, but they were instead blown away by the Dodgers.

Buehler, coming in off three days' rest for the first time, was at his best, giving up just one run on three hits while striking out four batters in 4.1 innings.

Betts and Will Smith both homered in a convincing 7-2 win that sets up a winner-takes-all finale at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Thursday.

"I just know when our backs are against the wall that we have a guy named Walker Buehler that ends up getting us out of it," Betts told reporters. 

"He did it again today, but we got one more game. Julio [Urias] has to bring us home."

Roberts added: "I told [Buehler] after he came out, I was like, this is something now, you've checked a box.

"You've pitched in big games, elimination games, Game 163, and all this other kind of stuff, but never pitched on short rest. And a box was checked, and you came out ahead."

Buehler himself lauded the spirit and grit the Dodgers showed to level the series at 2-2 and keep their hopes alive.

"Tonight's a great example of 26 guys coming together and figuring out a way to survive," he said.

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