If you believe in destiny, you might just think that Kiké Hernandez's three home runs Thursday night were meant to be. The Los Angeles Dodgers' 11-1 win against the defending World Series champions, the Chicago Cubs, clinched the National League pennant for the boys in blue for the first time since 1988 — in no small part thanks to Hernandez's third-inning grand slam. With two more home runs in Game 5, Hernandez joined the small club of players with three dingers in a postseason game.
Hernandez's home runs were all the more exciting because they were entirely unexpected: "The utility player's bat has never been his selling point, to say the least," Deadspin writes. "A modest power surge this year — a career-high ISO of .205, after failing to ever top .175 — brought his home run total for the season only to the grand sum of 11. He was one of the weakest-hitting players on the Dodgers, ninth by slugging percentage."
The Dodgers owner, Guggenheim CEO Mark Walter, even promised Hernandez a $1 million donation to Puerto Rico relief efforts if he simply got on base twice, Dodgers beat reporter Michael J. Duarte writes.
Wow. @kikehndez turning lights on in Puerto Rico and lights out in Chicago. Performance of a lifetime.
— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) October 20, 2017
Despite his odds, Hernandez didn't have any doubt. He told his mother — who lives in Puerto Rico, and was watching the game on a generator-powered TV at Hernandez's grandparents house — that he was going to hit a home run, SB Nation reports. "Don't think about hitting a home run; just think about putting the ball in play," she advised him before the game. He replied: "No Mom, I was thinking about that the first two games, and that didn't work."
The New York Yankees pulled their starting pitcher from the American League wild card game against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning Tuesday, after Luis Severino gave up three runs and four hits. Severino is only the 17th starting pitcher to notch one or fewer outs in a postseason game, Deadspin reports. The Yankees, though, made baseball history by overcoming the odds to win the one-game playoff 8-4, becoming only the second team to win a postseason game with a starting pitcher earning one or fewer outs, and the first team to do so since 1925.
"Across all the years for the Yankees, on either side of 161st Street, the Yankees had never won a postseason game when their starting pitcher was only able to get them one out," the New York Daily News writes. "They had done everything else in October. They had never done that. Until they did it against the Twins on Tuesday night, in a game they finally ended up winning 8-4, and winning themselves a trip to Cleveland in the process."
The Yankees will begin their best-of-five series against the Cleveland Indians on Thursday at Progressive Field in Ohio. Meanwhile, the Colorado Rockies will play the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League wild card game Wednesday night at 8:08 p.m. ET. Read how the wild card game might have broken baseball at The Week. Jeva Lange
The upcoming World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians will allow for a refreshing break in having to endure winning teams from Boston or San Francisco — the Indians haven't won since 1948, and the Cubs since 1908.
Things were … a little different back then. To wit: A ticket to see the Indians play at the Cleveland Municipal Stadium against the Boston Braves in the 1948 World Series cost just $6.25:
Heading to the World Series w/my son. My dad was at the last WS Cleveland Indians won in '48 and I think this is gonna cost more than $6.25 pic.twitter.com/JnkcJs6Mpu
— Brett Tessler (@TesslerSports) October 24, 2016
And to see the Chicago Cubs face the Detroit Tigers at West Side Grounds (Wrigley Field hadn't even been built yet) in 1908 cost just $1.00:
Despite a dearth of healthy starting pitchers, the Cleveland Indians managed to clinch a spot in the World Series on Wednesday, defeating the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 in their fourth win of the best-of-seven American League Championship Series. Toronto only managed to win one game against the dominant team from Cleveland, which is now looking to follow up on the 2016 NBA Championship win by the Cavaliers that marked the first major sports title for the city in 52 years.
The Indians will face the winner of the National League Championship Series, which currently has the Los Angeles Dodgers up 2-1 on the Chicago Cubs; game four begins tonight at 8:08 p.m. ET. The Indians last appeared in the World Series in 1997, where the Miami Marlins defeated them; the team has not won a World Series since 1948. Jeva Lange
The Los Angeles Dodgers were victorious over the Chicago Cubs Tuesday night, beating them 6-0 in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. In the fourth inning, Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer, and Justin Turner followed two innings later with a solo home run. The Dodgers now lead the series 2-1, and the next two games will be played in Los Angeles. Catherine Garcia
The Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Cleveland Indians 5-1 Tuesday in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, giving them their first win of the series. Over six innings, Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez limited the Indians to just one run and two hits; he threw 95 pitches, striking out five players and walking two. The Indians lead the series 3-1, and are just one win away from going to their first World Series since 1997. Catherine Garcia
The Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers are tied 1-1 in the National League Championship Series after their first two games at Wrigley Field. On the mound Tuesday at Dodger Stadium for the Cubs is Jake Arrieta, who aims to outmaneuver Los Angeles' lefthand-heavy lineup with his late-sinking fastball. For the Dodgers, lefty Rich Hill will keep the Cubs on their toes with his deceptive fastballs and breaking curveballs.
The Cubs, owners of a sparkling 103-58 record this season, remain the favorites with superstars like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo threatening to knock the ball out of the pitcher-friendly park. The first pitch is at 8:08 ET and can be watched on FS1 or streamed at FSGO or MLB.tv.
The Cleveland Indians are headed north to face the Toronto Blue Jays in the third game of the seven-game American League Championship Series. The Indians lead the series 2-0, with the Jays pressured to win the first of three games on their home field at Rogers Centre.
Marcus Stroman will be on the mound for the Jays, with Trevor Bauer returning for the Indians after a drone-related injury forced him to miss his planned Game 2 start. The Indians have a well-rested bullpen ready to be deployed, while Canadian hopes are hinging on hard-hitting José Bautista as he's gone without a hit for 14 at-bats after swatting dingers in his first two postseason games.
The first pitch is at 8:08 p.m. ET on TBS, and you can stream the game at TBS and MLB.tv. Jeva Lange