'MLB Playoffs 2023: Kershaw Fails as Rangers, Astros, and Phillies Dominate Division Series Opener'
Texas, Houston, Philadelphia, and Arizona start strong in their Division Series. Justin Verlander pitches a shutout, Yordan Alvarez homers twice.
The Division Series in Major League Baseball is off to an exciting start, with the teams from Texas, Houston, Philadelphia, and Arizona all making strong showings in their best-of-five matchups. Let's take a closer look at the action from each game.
In the American League Division Series opener, the Houston Astros, the defending World Series champions, secured a 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins. Pitcher Justin Verlander delivered an impressive performance, pitching six shutout innings, while Yordan Alvarez hit two home runs to contribute to the Astros' win. The series will continue with Game 2 on Sunday night in Houston, with Framber Valdez set to take the mound for the Astros against Pablo López of the Twins.
Meanwhile, in Baltimore, the Texas Rangers managed to hold on to a 3-2 lead against the Orioles in a hard-fought game. Andrew Heaney and Dane Dunning played crucial roles in helping the Rangers maintain their advantage until the sixth inning, when their bullpen stepped up to secure the win. Josh Jung's home run and stellar play at third base also played a significant part in Texas' victory. The Rangers are now 3-0 in the playoffs, all on the road. Game 2 will take place on Sunday at Camden Yards, with Jordan Montgomery starting for the Rangers and Grayson Rodriguez pitching for the Orioles.
Over in Atlanta, the Philadelphia Phillies blanked the 104-win Braves with a 3-0 victory in Game 1. Bryce Harper's home run and strong pitching performances from Ranger Suárez and the Phillies' bullpen stifled the Braves' potent offense. The Phillies are looking to repeat their success from the 2022 playoffs, where they upset the Braves on their way to the World Series. Game 2 of the series will be held on Monday night in Atlanta.
In Los Angeles, the Arizona Diamondbacks dominated the Dodgers with an 11-2 victory in their NL Division Series opener. Gabriel Moreno's three-run homer in the first inning set the tone for the Diamondbacks' strong performance. Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, and Tommy Pham also contributed with home runs, while pitcher Zac Gallen delivered a solid performance. The Dodgers' ace Clayton Kershaw had a rough outing, giving up six runs and recording just one out. Game 2 of the series will take place on Monday night in LA, with Gallen starting for the Diamondbacks and Bobby Miller pitching for the Dodgers.
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Astros are currently the betting favorites to win the World Series, with odds of +340. The Braves and Phillies follow closely behind, with odds of +450 and +480, respectively.
In a surprising turn of events, Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' ace, had a quick exit from Game 1 of the NL Division Series. He gave up six runs and only recorded one out, marking the shortest start of his 16-year career. This unexpected performance left Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts disappointed, as he had anticipated Kershaw to pitch around 85 pitches.
Max Scherzer, another notable pitcher, was left off the Texas Rangers' AL Division Series roster due to shoulder problems. Scherzer hasn't pitched since September 12 and will have to hope that the Rangers advance further in the playoffs for him to have a chance to pitch.
Former Astros star Carlos Correa had a solid performance for the Twins, but their struggles with runners in scoring position continued. They went 1 for 12 in Game 1 against the Astros, following a 1 for 10 performance in the Wild Card Series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In Philadelphia, Calum Scott's song "Dancing On My Own" has become an unexpected playoff anthem for the Phillies. The British singer, who received a jersey from the team last season as a thank you for his contribution to the postseason soundtrack, has expressed his excitement and willingness to attend the World Series parade if the Phillies win it all.
Rookie Evan Carter has been a valuable asset for the Texas Rangers, delivering an RBI double in Game 1 against the Orioles. At just 21 years old, Carter has already made history as the youngest player with four extra-base hits in his first three postseason games. His impressive performance has been a significant factor in the Rangers' success.
To catch all the playoff action, tune in to TBS for the NLDS and Fox and FS1 for the ALDS.
The postseason schedule is as follows: Division Series from October 7-14, League Championship Series from October 15-24, and the World Series from October 27-November 4.
Stay tuned for more thrilling baseball action as the Division Series continues to unfold.