For an impartial observer, Friday was one heck of a night of postseason baseball. You couldn’t have asked for a more gripping, pressure-packed pair of games. In the ALCS, the Astros pulled off a stunning ninth-inning comeback on Jose Altuve’s three-run homer in the top of the ninth, a game that also featured a benches-clearing fracas in the bottom of the eighth, as Houston won its third in a row to pull one victory away from its third straight World Series. The once unstoppable Rangers, after starting their postseason win seven straight wins, have run into a buzzsaw and will have to win two games on the road to advance. (Luckily for them, road teams are 5-0 in this series.)
Last night’s NLCS game was equally dramatic, with the Diamondbacks rallying back late from a three-run deficit, shocking Craig Kimbrel and the Phillies with three in the eighth to take charge of the game and tie the series. Light-hitting outfielder Alek Thomas tied the game with a clutch two-run blast before Gabriel Moreno’s RBI single put Arizona ahead. The Phillies, like the Rangers, once seemed to be in total control of their series with two easy wins in Philadelphia, but things have soured for them and now it’s anybody’s NLCS to win.
NLCS Game 5, 8:07 PM, TBS (series tied, 2-2)
RHP Zack Wheeler (PHI) vs. RHP Zac Gallen (ARI)
Whoever wins tonight’s contest will be one victory away from a World Series, and each team will have its best starter on the bump in a rematch of Game 1. Wheeler got the upper hand in the first battle, delivering six strong innings with just two runs allowed while Gallen was tagged for five runs in five frames. Gallen had been pretty good in his two postseason starts before that one, but not to the level of Wheeler, who has a 2.37 in three playoff outings this October, all of them quality starts.
This is the last game of the series in Arizona before the scene shifts back to Philly on Monday. The Phillies are a perfect 6-0 at home in the playoffs this year, so it would behoove the Diamondbacks to pull this one out so they don’t have to win two on the road.