MLB postseason: Dodgers, Phillies, Yankees, ‘Stros take early Division Series leads

Yanks
The New York Yankees look to improve to a 2-0 lead over Cleveland on Thursday.

 

(AP) – Nick Castellanos and the Philadelphia Phillies can put the defending World Series champion Braves on the brink of elimination. Same for the Dodgers against the rival Padres.

Meanwhile, the Mariners and Guardians get a day to shake off tough losses to the Astros and Yankees, respectively.

The best-of-five National League Division Series pitting Phillies vs. Braves and Padres vs. Dodgers are set for their second games Wednesday, while the American League clubs get a day off.

Castellanos carried a big load with his bat in a 7-6 Game 1 victory Tuesday over Atlanta. But despite driving in three runs, his glovework was what really had people talking.

Frequently maligned as part of a subpar defensive outfield, Castellanos sprawled out for a potentially game-saving catch in the ninth inning, snuffing out Atlanta’s rally from a six-run deficit.

The grab helped lock up the Phillies’ third straight win to open this postseason — an unexpected run months after they fired manager Joe Girardi and replaced him with Rob Thomson.

Here’s what else to know about the MLB playoffs today:

TODAY’S SCHEDULE (All times ET)

NLDS Game 2: Philadelphia at Atlanta, 4:35 p.m., FOX

NLDS Game 2: San Diego at Los Angeles, 8:37 p.m., FS1

BRAVE NEW OCTOBER

Dansby Swanson and the Braves haven’t rediscovered last year’s World Series magic. They’re hoping it’ll show against Game 2 Phillies starter Zack Wheeler.

Atlanta didn’t look like a defending champion Tuesday. The Braves stranded nine runners in their Game 1 loss, an aggravating day that had the usually cool-headed Swanson slamming his bat and helmet to the ground midgame.

They showed signs of life late, when Matt Olson’s three-run homer cut the deficit to one in the ninth inning. They’ll ask Game 2 starter Kyle Wright to carry over that momentum — something he did well while leading the majors with 21 wins this season.

CLOSED OUT

The Dodgers can take a 2-0 series lead over San Diego with a win Wednesday. They’ll send three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to the mound against Padres ace Yu Darvish.

If Kershaw and the Dodgers win a second World Series in three years, it may be without eight-time All-Star Craig Kimbrel in the bullpen. And that’s by choice.

Kimbrel was left off Los Angeles’ NLDS roster, a decision manager Dave Roberts made two weeks after demoting Kimbrel out of the closer’s role.

Kimbrel was 6-7 with 22 saves and was booed at times in his first season in Los Angeles as the replacement for Kenley Jansen. Kimbrel leads active pitchers with 394 career saves and has never blown a postseason chance in 23 appearances, although he has a subpar 4.13 ERA in those games.

Chris Martin pitched the ninth inning in LA’s 5-3 win Tuesday night, converting his first postseason save in 15 career appearances.

NO JOSHING

Yankees slugger Josh Donaldson is catching heat from fans even after a satisfying Game 1 win in New York.

The 36-year-old was embarrassingly thrown out on the bases after prematurely going into a home run trot on a ball that bounced off the top of the wall during New York’s 4-1 victory Tuesday. Donaldson didn’t run hard, and he didn’t answer questions about it from reporters after the game, either.

It was hardly the first time Donaldson’s lack of hustle became an issue for the Yankees this year. Boone pulled him aside after an incident Sept. 5 and told him, “Let’s not let that happen.”

FREAKED OUT

Relief pitchers David Robertson of the Phillies and Phil Maton of the Astros were left off their clubs’ Division Series rosters after freak injuries.

Robertson, 37-year-old in a resurgent season for the Phils, injured his right calf jumping to celebrate Bryce Harper’s home run in a clinching Game 2 victory over St. Louis during the wild-card round. He’s not with the team in Atlanta, instead going back to Philadelphia for a PRP injection.

“He’s devastated,” Thomson said. “He really wanted to pitch in the series. And he knows how big a part he is to this club. And he’s very disappointed.”

Maton says he broke his right pinkie finger when he punched a locker in frustration after Houston’s regular-season finale. He’s out for the remainder of the postseason. He called the outburst “shortsighted and ultimately selfish.”

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