MLB playoffs: Padres shut down Dodgers in NLDS Game 3, team up with Phillies to push NL favorites to the brink

MLB’s 12-team postseason bracket has already been whittled down to eight contenders. Now the top two seeds from each league have joined the fray in the Division Series. After advancing directly to their ALDS and NLDS slots via byes, the Astros, Yankees, Dodgers and Braves face challengers.

Friday is shaping up to be a surprisingly busy baseball day. The ALDS 2 game between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Guardians was scheduled for Thursday, but was rescheduled for Friday afternoon due to rain in the Bronx. That means a three-game day as the Phillies and Padres return home to host crucial Game 3s against the Braves and Dodgers. In Philadelphia, there’s added intrigue thanks to the return of Spencer Strider, the Atlanta rookie phenom (or one of them) who will take the mound after missing a month with an oblique injury. He will face Aaron Nola, the Phillies starter who has been nearly untouchable in recent starts.

Here is the slate:

Game 2: Guardians (Bieber) vs. Yankees (Cortes) – 1:07 p.m., TBS (Yankees lead series, 1-0)

Game 3: Braves (Strider) at Phillies (Nola) – 4:37 p.m., FS1 (Series tied, 1-1)

Game 3: Dodgers (Gonsolin) at Padres (Snell) – 8:37 p.m., FS1 (series tied, 1-1)

[Full updated MLB playoff TV schedule]

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Padres top Dodgers behind Blake Snell, spotless bullpen

It is getting late for the powers of Newfoundland. Hours after the Phillies took a 2-1 series lead over the No. 2-seeded Braves, the Padres took the lead over the No. 1-seeded Dodgers, 111-game winners regular season. San Diego, playing a postseason game in front of home fans for the first time since 2006, got the right version of Blake Snell. The southpaw allowed just one run in 5 1/3 innings and then gave way to a bullpen that has been series history so far.

The Padres bullpen has yet to allow a run in the NLDS. On Friday night, Nick Martinez, Luis Garcia, Robert Suarez and Josh Hader combined for 3 2/3 scoreless frames, allowing just one hit and striking out six.

The Padres kept the pressure on Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin early, and manager Dave Roberts went to an early hook to bring in Andrew Heaney. All in all, it worked: Gonsolin allowed a run on a Jake Cronenworth single, but Heaney went through three innings allowing just one solo shot to a rejuvenated Trent Grisham. Usually, that wouldn’t be enough to beat this Dodgers formation. But with the Padres’ powerful bullpen arms all performing at the top of their game, it was.

Hader, after struggling mightily in his early days with San Diego, is apparently back to his dominant Milwaukee form. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since Sept. 5, a span of 13 2/3 innings.

The Padres now have a 2-1 lead over the Dodgers and could knock them out with a win on Saturday night. It’s a story the Dodgers know well, though. The San Francisco Giants shut them out 1-0 in Game 3 of the NLDS last season, before coming back strong to win in five games.

Phillies take flight in front of home fans and blast Braves in NLDS Game 3

The Phillies have the defending champion Braves on the brink. Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper smashed massive home runs in an exuberant third inning, Aaron Nola went six dazzling innings, and the Phillies won Game 3 of the NLDS, 9-1. The rash came in the first post-season game at Citizens Bank Park since 2011.

Hoskins — whose homer sent the Philadelphia crowd into a frenzy he never got out of — ended his swing with a bat point. The barrage chased away Braves starter Spencer Strider, the stellar rookie who was returning from an oblique injury. Then Harper smashed the first pitch from the Atlanta bullpen, well over the right-field fence.

Nola took it from there. After scoreless starts to clinch the Phillies’ playoff berth and then in their wildcard streak against St. Louis, Nola kept rolling. The 29-year-old right-hander who led the Phillies rotation since 2015 has calmed the Braves bats. He allowed just one run, and even that was unearned after a pumped Hoskins dropped a pitch that would have completed a double play.

The Phillies could shut down the Braves and end their attempt to repeat Saturday’s Game 4.

Guardians eliminate Game 2 win over Yankees, tie ALDS

Top starters Shane Bieber and Nestor Cortes Jr. dueled to a draw, and it stayed that way for the full nine innings in the Bronx. But in the 10th, triggered by José Ramírez’s dash to third base on an error-prolonged brace, the Guardians outlasted the Yankees to earn a Game 2 win.

Emmanuel Clase, the closest to Cleveland who recorded a 1.36 ERA and MLB’s best 42 saves this season, pitched 2 1/3 innings to lock in the key win. The Yankees scored on a two-run first-inning homer from Giancarlo Stanton, but never again.

Cleveland got two bloop singles and a strong double off the bat from Josh Naylor in the 10th inning, recording two runs against Jameson Taillon, the Yankees starter became the playoff relief option.

The Guardians now head home for Games 3 and 4, series tied at one, with a chance to upset. They’ll have Triston McKenzie starting in Game 3 against the Yankees’ Luis Severino. After that, the Yankees will turn to Gerrit Cole and the options for Cleveland skipper Terry Francona will become interesting. With the rest of the series playing on back-to-back days, the Guardians could have an advantage over the Yankees’ injury-depleted bullpen.

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