MLB

MLB Playoffs 2023: Astros, Diamondbacks Advance To LCS, Phillies One Win Away

Oct 12, 2023, 2:50 PM

MLB Astros Diamondbacks LCS...

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 11: The Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate in the pool after beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 in Game Three of the Division Series at Chase Field on October 11, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

(AP) – For the seventh consecutive season, the Houston Astros have advanced to the AL Championship Series.

The surprising Arizona Diamondbacks are in the NLCS for the first time in 16 years.

One more win by the Philadelphia Phillies, and baseball’s final four would be set.

José Abreu homered for the third time in two games, a two-run rocket in the fourth inning that launched the Astros to a 3-2 win that eliminated the strikeout-prone Minnesota Twins in Game 4 of their Division Series on Wednesday night.

Houston will host in-state rival Texas in Game 1 of the ALCS on Sunday, with three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander scheduled to pitch for the defending World Series champion Astros in his 36th career postseason start.

“They know us, and we know them,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said, “and it’s going to be a heck of a series.”

In Phoenix, Geraldo Perdomo hit the first of Arizona’s record-setting four solo homers in the third inning, and the Diamondbacks swept the 100-win Los Angeles Dodgers out of the playoffs with a 4-2 victory in Game 3 of their NL Division Series.

The D-backs return to the NL Championship Series for the first time since 2007, where they’ll face either the Phillies or Braves.

Arizona — the No. 6 seed after squeezing into the NL playoff bracket with an 84-78 record — has won all five of its games during the postseason.

In Philadelphia, Bryce Harper answered Orlando Arcia’s mockery with a mammoth three-run homer and a solo shot, glaring at the shortstop on each trot around the bases, and the Phillies routed the Atlanta Braves 10-2 for a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five NL Division Series.

Nick Castellanos homered twice as Philadelphia rebounded from its disappointing loss at Atlanta on Monday night. Trea Turner and Brandon Marsh also went deep.

Winning pitcher Aaron Nola and four relievers combined to push the 104-win Braves to the brink of elimination.

That leaves only one playoff game scheduled for Thursday night, when the Phillies can advance to the NL Championship Series for a second straight season with a win. Ranger Suárez pitches for Philadelphia against 20-game winner Spencer Strider.

A decisive Game 5 would be Saturday in Atlanta.

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EMOTIONAL MOMENT

The four sons of Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the Dodgers, in honor of their mom Nicole Hazen, who died from brain cancer in 2022.

Hazen’s four sons are Charlie (17), John (16), Teddy (15) and Sam (13).

BYE, BYE?

After getting five days off, the top four playoff seeds went a combined 2-6 on their home fields to start the best-of-five division round.

Two of them were eliminated in three-game sweeps: the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Clearly, the time off did them little good. Which begs the question: Is it time to say goodbye to the bye?

PHILLY SPECIAL

Should the Phillies win the World Series, save a spot at the end of the Broad Street parade route for Calum Scott.

The British singer with the pop hit about loneliness and heartbreak insists he’s coming to Philly and wearing the jersey the team sent him last season as a thank you for his part in making “ Dancing On My Own ” a staple of the postseason soundtrack at Citizens Bank Park.

Scott is as amazed as anyone the song has improbably bloomed into a playoff anthem for the Phillies, who won the National League pennant last year before losing to Houston in the World Series.

“They win the World Series, I’m there, man,” Scott said. “I think at that point, you’ll have to hold me back.”

READY-MADE ROOKIE

Evan Carter is 6 for 14 (.429) with three doubles, one home run and three RBIs in five playoff games for Texas — all wins. The outfielder has walked six times and has a .619 on-base percentage and .857 slugging percentage.

At 21 years, 40 days old, he became the youngest player to reach base 12 or more times in his first four postseason games. He is the second-youngest to achieve the feat in any four-game span in the postseason behind Freddie Lindstrom, who was 18 years, 319 days old in 1924.

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MLB Playoffs 2023: Astros, Diamondbacks Advance To LCS, Phillies One Win Away