A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton has homered in all four of the team’s postseason games this year. He connected two straight days at Cleveland as New York swept the wild-card series, and has homered in each of the first two games against Tampa Bay at neutral site Petco Park in San Diego.
The oft-injured Stanton hit four homers in 23 games during the regular season. He had three home runs in 18 games last year.
The two-time NL home run champion is from the Los Angeles area and says ”that SoCal air” is helping the ball fly. He hit a grand slam in the opener against Tampa Bay, then connected in his first two at-bats in Game 2 of the AL Division Series. Still, the Rays won 7-5 to even the best-of-five set.
Stanton became the first Yankees player to homer in four consecutive playoff games in the same postseason – and joined Juan Gonzalez as the only players in big league history with five homers in the first four games of a postseason. The 2017 NL MVP is the first major leaguer whose first five hits in a postseason were all homers.
HOME ON THE RANGE
Clayton Kershaw finally gets to pitch in a major league game near his Texas home after 13 seasons and three NL Cy Young Awards with the Los Angeles Dodgers – except there won’t be a full flock of family and fans in the stands, and the stadium isn’t the same one he used to go to as a kid.
Kershaw starts against the San Diego Padres as the Dodgers try to take a 2-0 lead in their NL Division Series at the Texas Rangers’ new stadium, which is less than 25 miles from where he grew up, went to high school and still lives.
”It’s definitely different to be in Dallas and have to stay in a hotel,” Kershaw said.
The Dodgers have played four regular-season series in Arlington since Kershaw’s big league debut in 2008. None of those 10 games matched up with Kershaw’s turn in the rotation, including in late August this season.
Kershaw said he used to get to go to a handful of games each year with some friends who had tickets on the second level right above the third base visitors’ dugout at the old ballpark. While he never got to pitch there, he said it was special just being part of games on the field where he used to watch his favorite players.
He wears No. 22 because of former Rangers first baseman Will Clark.
If the Dodgers advance to the NL Championship Series or World Series, fans will be allowed at those games.
”It’s even more reason to make it to the next round, so people can come and watch,” he said.
Some family members will be permitted at the game, but not a full complement.
Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. keeps collecting hits against the Marlins — some with his bat, others with his body.
The 22-year-old outfielder became the youngest player in postseason history to hit a leadoff home run when he connected Tuesday as the Braves beat Miami 9-5 in Game 1. He also hit a key single during a late rally.
In between, Acuna was drilled in the left hip by a 98 mph fastball from Sandy Alcantara. That got the sides barking at each other, given the history between Acuna and the Marlins.
In 2018, when Acuna was a rookie and on a big homer-hitting streak, Miami’s Jose Urena nailed him with a fastball on his first pitch. He’s become a Marlins target over the years.
”I looked over to their bench and said, `It’s been five times,”’ Acuna said through a translator. ”At this point I think we’ve grown accustomed to it.”
Alcantara insisted he didn’t intend to hit Acuna and that Miami’s game plan is simply to pitch inside to him. But the Marlins starter didn’t stop there.
”If he’s ready to fight, I’m ready to fight, too,” Alcantara said.
Miami right-hander Pablo Lopez makes his postseason debut when he starts Game 2. Ian Anderson pitches for the Braves, having allowed two hits and struck out nine in six scoreless innings against Cincinnati in the wild-card series.
ONE MORE TO CONNECT FOUR
George Springer and the Houston Astros can sweep rival Oakland and reach their fourth consecutive AL Championship Series.
The 2017 World Series MVP homered twice Tuesday as the Astros topped the Athletics 5-2 for a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five Division Series. Springer’s 17 postseason homers tied Nelson Cruz and Jim Thome for most through a player’s first 54 postseason games. Five have come at Dodger Stadium, where the Astros won Game 7 of the 2017 World Series.
After batting first in the initial two games, Houston becomes the home team in Game 3 of the neutral-site matchup. With veteran right-hander Zack Greinke ailing, manager Dusty Baker will give the ball to Jose Urquidy. He started Game 2 in the first round at Minnesota, allowing one run and two hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Greinke hasn’t pitched in the series because of a sore arm, and the team was awaiting test results. ”It’s pretty evident the last three, four starts that he wasn’t himself,” Baker said.
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