Michael Cox  |  Wed 10th Oct   | MLB

Baseball’s best month started with 10 teams all vying for the same goal; win the World Series. But now that goal is well within reach for just four teams. With the conclusion of the divisional rounds, the Brewers, Dodgers, Astros and Red Sox, will do battle and attempt to seal their trip to the Fall Classic.

Red Sox survive wild 9th inning, eliminate Yankees

It certainly wasn’t easy, and no Boston fan was relaxed, but the Red Sox finished the job and eliminated the rival Yankees in four games by a score of 4-3.

One day after giving New York their worst postseason loss in franchise history, Boston jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. Heading into the 9th inning up 4-1, and right after an 8th inning appearance by ace Chris Sale, All Star closer Craig Kimbrel came in to shut the door. But a couple walks, a base hit, sacrifice fly, and even a hit-by-pitch brought the Yankees to within one. Finally, with men on 1st and 2nd base, Kimbrel got Gleyber Torres to ground out, a close play that actually had to be confirmed by instant replay.

The Red Sox now advance to the ALCS to take on the defending champion Astros. The last league championship series Boston made was in 2013, where they would go on to win the World Series. First pitch for Game 1 is 8:09 P.M. EST at Fenway Park.

ALCS & NLCS Set

Both league championship series are set, with the Dodgers and Brewers in the National League and the Astros and Red Sox in the American League. All four teams held home field advantage in the previous round. It is the first time since 2007 where all the teams with a better record in the divisional round went on to advance.

Los Angeles and Milwaukee get the next round rolling on Friday night. The Dodgers are throwing their ace Clayton Kershaw on the hill, while the Brewers remain undecided. Game 2 is Saturday afternoon, which will lead into Game 1 of Astros-Red Sox.  No starting pitchers have been decided in either of those games. Game 2 of the ALCS is Sunday night.

Astros third baseman Alex Bregman made some comments earlier this week about the level of disrespect toward Houston. This was in regards to all of their games versus Cleveland being played in the afternoon, while the Yankees and Red Sox played in primetime. However Bregman can now rest easy, with the two games with confirmed start times will be played in the evenings, in primetime television.

Rays extend Kevin Cash

One can make the argument that no non-playoff team had a better year than the Rays. The Rays seem to agree, rewarding their manager Kevin Cash with a multiyear extension. He is now signed through 2024 with a club option for 2025.

Cash led Tampa Bay to 90 wins, their best finish since 2013 under then-manager Joe Maddon. It was the second straight year the Rays improved by double-digit wins.  Cash had just one year remaining on his deal before signing the extension.

The great job Cash did for the Rays this year was apparent to anyone who follows baseball. Tampa Bay was forced into using a total of 54 players, 31 pitchers, and 23 rookies this season, all club records. They gained national attention for frequently using a group of relievers to pitch for an entire game rather than the conventional starter. The Rays have also spent less money on their roster than any team in the last four years, the amount of time Cash has been in charge.

Cash spoke with the Tampa Bay Times following the extension:

“Obviously my family and I are thrilled and incredibly humbled, I don’t know if surprised is the right word, or flattered that they were willing to give me that long of a deal.”

However, despite spending less than everyone else, Cash has managed to go a respectable 318-300, the 18th best winning percentage during that time (.491).

Moving Along

Thanks to no series going longer than four games, baseball will have to wait until Friday. The Dodgers will be in Milwaukee against the Brewers for a 7:09 P.M. CT first pitch from Miller Park. On the American League side, the Astros are in Boston against the Red Sox. Game 1 from Fenway Park is 8:09 EST on Saturday.

Michael Cox