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Philadelphia will face the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS, while the Houston Astros play their in-state rival Texas Rangers in the ALCS.
Four teams are left fighting for that World Series trophy. Now everybody can take a break for a couple of days before the playoffs resume Sunday night.
Nick Castellanos became the first player to hit multiple homers in consecutive postseason games, and the Philadelphia Phillies eliminated the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year with a 3-1 victory Thursday night in Game 4 of their NL Division Series.
Trea Turner singled twice, doubled and hit a solo homer in the fifth inning for a 2-1 lead as the defending NL champions make another run at their first World Series title since 2008.
They advance to an all-wild card NL Championship Series and will play the Arizona Diamondbacks, making their first trip since 2007 after a surprising sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Game 1 is Monday night in Philadelphia.
“We feel good, there’s no question about it,” Castellanos said.
The best-of-seven ALCS starts first, when Houston hosts rival Texas on Sunday night in a Lone Star State showdown. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander is scheduled to pitch for the defending World Series champion Astros.
None of baseball's eight playoff series so far have gone the distance. There have been six sweeps and two best-of-five Division Series that ended in four games.
The Astros are the current betting favorites to win the World Series at +180, followed by the Phillies (+195), Rangers (+290) and Diamondbacks (+500), according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
After getting five days off, the top four playoff seeds went a combined 2-6 on their home fields to start the division round.
Two of them were eliminated in three-game sweeps: the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers. Atlanta, which led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season, was bounced in four games by Philadelphia.
“We thought we did everything possible during the delay, recreated things the best we could. And we can do everything right and all that and you start a series, and you know what, your offense doesn’t get traction. I mean, it could happen anytime,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I don’t know that we could have done anything any better or been more thorough in what we did with our time off to get us ready to play.”
But clearly, the time off did those clubs little good. Which begs the question: Is it time to say goodbye to the bye?
“It’s not ideal,” Snitker said. “I’m not going to say that’s an excuse for us. I look at the Astros. It didn’t bother them. They kind of kept hitting on all cylinders.
“I never liked two days off as a team or whatever. I think one day is plenty,” he added. “But you know what? It's what it is, and we've got to figure it out.”
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TBS will broadcast the NLCS. Fox and FS1 will carry the ALCS.
League Championship Series: Oct. 15-24
World Series: Oct. 27-Nov. 4
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