By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and the Los Angeles Dodgers avoided elimination on Tuesday night, winning handily over the San Francisco Giants to force a decisive Game 5 on Thursday night. Walker Buehler was solid working on three days of rest, while Mookie Betts and Will Smith homered to account for the bulk of L.A.’s offense. The defending World Series champions will look to return to the NLCS tomorrow on the road. Julio Urias will make the start for Los Angeles, while San Francisco will counter with Logan Webb.
Awaiting the winner of the Dodgers and Giants are the Atlanta Braves, who thrillingly defeated the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night. Entering the bottom of the eighth inning tied, the Brewers had arguably baseball’s best reliever, Josh Hader, on the mound. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman didn’t seem to care. The veteran slugger sent the first pitch of his at-bat into the bleachers for a go-ahead, eventual game-winning home run. It was a massive home run that will send the Braves to the NLCS.
Boston sent the Tampa Bay Rays home with a walk-off sacrifice fly in Monday night’s thrilling Game 4. The Red Sox jumped to an early five-run lead, but the Rays managed to tie the game in the eighth inning, setting the stage for Kike Hernandez’s dramatics. It’s been a remarkable season for Boston, who finished 2020 with one of the worst records in baseball and entered the 2021 season with little reason to expect anything more than a fourth-place finish in the American League East. After defeating the Yankees in the Wild Card round and Tampa Bay in the ALDS, Boston is four wins away from the World Series.
Standing in Boston’s path is Houston, as the Astros moved on to the ALCS following a demolition of the Chicago White Sox in Tuesday’s Game 4. Jose Altuve was the spark for Houston’s offense, racking up three hits, three RBI, and scoring four of the team’s ten runs. Houston has to be excited about the team’s success against Chicago’s highly-regarded pitching staff. However, it wasn’t all good news for the Astros. Right-hander Lance McCullers, the team’s best starting pitcher, was forced from Game 4 due to forearm discomfort, a potentially ominous development. Game 1 of the ALCS is on Friday night.
In the NFL, on Monday night, the Baltimore Ravens overcame a slow start to mount an exciting comeback effort against the Indianapolis Colts. The Ravens punctuated the effort with a game-winning touchdown in overtime, Lamar Jackson’s fourth of the game. Jackson delivered a showcase performance, who added 442 passing yards and 62 rushing yards to the quartet of scores. Though injuries have ravaged the supporting cast around Jackson, he’s been playing at an MVP level this season. The Ravens are quietly 4-1 and sitting atop the AFCC North. Meanwhile, with the loss, the Indianapolis Colts are a discouraging 1-4.
Lost in the bluster of Sunday’s NFL action was a matchup of teams heading toward the top of the 2022 Draft: the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets. While the game proved to be exciting enough, the emergence of rookie tight end Kyle Pitts was the highlight of the contest. An afterthought within Atlanta’s dull offense entering the game, Pitts emerged as a force in Week 5, catching 9-of-10 targets for 119 yards and the first TD of his career. Despite his team’s insistence of easing him into action during the first four games of the season, Pitts boasts a legitimate chance at setting the rookie record for receiving yards for a tight end. There’s not a lot of reasons to be watching the Falcons right now, but Pitts is very much one.
Tomorrow night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to keep rolling along, traveling to face the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6’s kickoff contest. Tom Brady is dealing with an injured thumb, but there is zero indication it will affect his ability to torch a weak Philadelphia secondary. To have any success at slowing Tampa Bay’s star-studded offense, the Eagles are going to need its defensive line to dominate. Javon Hargrave has been up to the task all season, and in Week 5, Josh Sweat, Fletcher Cox, and Derek Barnett all joined in on the fun. It won’t be as easy for Hargraves and company against Tampa Bay’s elite offensive line, but the unit is paramount to Philadelphia’s hopes of pulling off the unlikeliest of upsets.