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Tuesday ALCS/NLCS thread

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Where the Astros are down in a hole, and Clayton Kershaw was scratched against the Braves in Game Two.

League Championship - Houston Astros v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Two
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Manuel Margot takes a tumble over the railing, but he still held onto the ball.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Clear your Tuesday evening from 6 pm on, because there is league championship baseball to be played tonight!

Tonight’s schedule:

NLCS: Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers, Game 2 (Braves lead, 1-0)

6:05 PM, FS1

At the start of the playoffs people might have made a lot of how a 16-team format was going to produce weird results (and it still has been weird), but with the NL’s best offense (Braves) squaring off against the best pitching (Dodgers) in the NLCS, the two teams left standing do not look like statistical outliers. And until last night, both had absolutely squished the postseason competition, rolling to a combined 10-0 October record.

Last night’s matchup between LA’s Walker Buehler and Atlanta’s Max Fried, the anointed ace of an injury-riddled Braves rotation, proved a heck of a pitchers’ duel, a tense 1-1 tie going into the 9th inning. Then the Braves erupted for four runs on an Austin Riley solo dinger, a two-run blast from Ozzie Albies, and an RBI single by Marcell Ozuna.

The winner of Game 1 of any best-of-seven series has historically gone on to victory 64% of the time. Los Angeles expected to have a formidable weapon playing stopper in veteran lefty Clayton Kershaw, who went 6-2 this season with a 2.16 ERA. Kershaw has a 0.43 career ERA against the Braves in the postseason, and he’s allowed three runs in 14 innings this postseason. Kershaw, though, was scratched earlier today because of back spasms, with Tony Gonsolin (2-2, 2.31 ERA this season) taking his place. Countering Gonsolin is rookie right-hander Ian Anderson, who debuted with the club in late August and pitched to a 1.95 ERA in six starts. Atlanta’s rotation was struck by injuries this season, but they were rescued by the emergence of key prospects down the stretch. They’ll look to do that one more time Tuesday night.

ALCS: Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays, Game 3 (Rays lead, 2-0)

8:40 PM, TBS

Too bad, so sad: so far the Astros offense, which steamrolled Minnesota and Oakland in their first two series this postseason, has been squelched by Tampa Bay pitching. They put up just one run in Game 1, on a Jose Altuve solo home run. And last night, in Game 2, 36-year-old former teammate Charlie Morton blanked them over five innings en route to a 4-2 Rays victory. Tampa Bay outfielder Manuel Margot did it all for his team in the win, clocking a 3-run homer in the first inning, then killing a brewing Houston rally with an insane tumble over the right-field wall to retire George Springer on a pop foul.

Tonight, with their season in jeopardy, the Astros turn to Jose Urquidy, who’s taking the rotation spot of an ailing Zack Greinke. Urquidy went 1-1 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts this season, but hasn’t been great in the postseason, allowing four solo home runs in 4 ⅓ innings last week against Oakland. So far, Rays manager Kevin Cash has looked like a mastermind, and he continues to play do-si-do with the roster tonight, giving the start to Ryan Yarbrough, a lefty who’s been appearing more recently out of the ‘pen. In his sole postseason appearance so far, Yarbrough pitched five innings against the Yankees, allowing two runs on six hits in an eventual loss.