NEW YORK: Defending champion Atlanta and the Los Angeles Dodgers were pushed to the brink of elimination from the Major League Baseball playoffs after road losses on Friday. Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper blasted home runs to power the Phillies over Atlanta 9-1 while Trent Grisham’s solo homer for San Diego was the difference in a 2-1 triumph over the Dodgers. “It was a big turning point,” said Grisham of his fourth-inning blast. “You feel how important it is to the city and your teammates and to be able to do it is really important to me.”
The Padres and Phillies each seized a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five National League division series matchup and can advance with another home triumph Saturday. “We’re excited about that opportunity,” Harper said. “We can’t wait. Excited to be back home. We want to be able to do this for the next two weeks.” San Diego has not reached the NL championship series since 1998 while the Phillies, in their first postseason appearance since 2011, haven’t gone that far since 2010.
In an American League game postponed from Thursday by rain, Oscar Gonzalez drove in one 10th-inning run and scored another to lift visiting Cleveland over the New York Yankees 4-2 and level their series 1-1 with games the next two days in Cleveland. “We’re excited to go back home to our fans,” Guardians slugger Josh Naylor said. “We’re going to bring the same energy we bring every day.”
At San Diego, Juan Soto doubled in the first inning and scored on Jake Cronenworth’s single up the middle to put the Padres ahead and Grisham’s homer made it 2-0. The Dodgers, chasing their second World Series crown in three seasons, answered in the fifth when Trayce Thompson singled, took third on an Austin Barnes double and scored on a Mookie Betts sacrifice fly. But the Dodgers couldn’t push across an equalizer, as winning pitcher Blake Snell struck out six and four Padres relievers struck out six more LA batters over 3 2/3 innings.
At Philadelphia, Bryson Stott smacked a run-scoring double in the fourth and Hoskins followed two batters later with a three-run homer to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead. “You’ve got to be on the fast ball there,” Hoskins said. “I was just lucky enough to get one up high and in the middle. After that, I don’t know if my feet touched the ground.” JT Realmuto singled next and Harper then smashed a two-run homer to put Philadelphia ahead 6-0. “I was just fired up, ready to go on pitch one,” Harper said. “I know he likes his heater so I was ready for it.”
Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson doubled in the sixth and scored on a Michael Harris single but the Phillies answered in the seventh on a run-scoring single by Harper and a two-run single by Nick Castellanos. “It was just a good night overall offensively,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We just kept adding on.” The Braves are trying to become the first MLB repeat champion since the New York Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000.
Guardians beat Yankees
At New York, 10th-inning leadoff hitter Jose Ramirez turned a bloop hit to short left field into a double and took third on a throwing error by Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson. Gonzalez followed by lofting a bloop single over first base to score Ramirez and give the Guardians a 3-2 edge. Naylor followed with a double to the centerfield wall that scored Gonzalez to produce the final margin.
“Just put the ball in play, hit something solid,” Naylor said of Cleveland’s strategy. “Our game plan was just to get runners on base and move them.” Donaldson got a one-out walk for New York in the 10th but Oswaldo Cabrera struck out and Isiah Kiner-Falefa grounded out to end the game. Giancarlo Stanton had put the Yankees ahead with a two-run homer in the first. But the Guardians answered in the fourth on Andres Gimenez’s run-scoring single and tired it on Amed Rosario’s solo homer in the fifth. – AFP