Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals (-135, 7)
Cardinals lead series 1-0.
Reggie Jackson may be the original "Mr. October," but Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals is making a strong argument that he deserves the title in the 21st century. Beltran continued his postseason heroics with a three-run homer to spark St. Louis to a 9-1 rout of the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday. The Cardinals will look to take a 2-0 lead in Friday's Game 2 of the best-of-five series.
Beltran's blast was his 15th in 35 postseason games, tying Babe Ruth for eighth place on the all-time list. "He's like our secret weapon when it comes to the postseason. He steps up every time," Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter said of Beltran. Pittsburgh managed only four hits - two by Andrew McCutchen - and got its only run on a homer by Pedro Alvarez, continuing a trend that has seen the Pirates outscored 35-11 in their last four games in St. Louis.
TV: 1:07 p.m. ET, MLB Network
WEATHER: Temperatures in mid 80s with partly cloudy skies and a 17 percent chance of rain. Winds blowing south at 12 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH Gerrit Cole (10-7, 3.22 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97)
Cole showed why he was the top overall pick in the 2011 draft, winning his last four starts and allowing six runs in five September outings. The 23-year-old fireballer has never faced St. Louis, but he was 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA in seven starts away from home. Cole has not pitched since Sept. 24, when he limited the Chicago Cubs to two runs over six innings.
Lynn also had a strong finish to the season, winning his last two starts and allowing one run and eight hits over 12 1/3 innings. He also faced the Cubs in his last turn, blanking them on four hits over six innings, and permitted a total of four runs (three earned) in his last four starts. Lynn made five starts against Pittsburgh this season, going 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Cardinals are 4-1 in Lynns last five home starts vs. Pirates.
* Over is 32-15-4 in the last 51 meetings in St. Louis.
* Pirates are 0-5 in the last five meetings in St. Louis.
1. Lynn has held McCutchen to four hits in 26 at-bats with 10 strikeouts.
2. Cole struck out 39 and allowed only 24 hits in 32 innings in September.
3. Beltran trails only Derek Jeter (20) and Albert Pujols (18) for the most postseason homers among active players.
Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves (-104, 6.5)
Dodgers lead series 1-0.
The Atlanta Braves struck out 15 times in a series-opening loss and now have to deal with Los Angeles right-hander Zack Greinke when they host the Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Friday. Atlanta hitters fanned 12 times in seven innings against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the opener and must fare better against Greinke to avoid heading to Los Angeles in an 0-2 hole. The Braves have lost four consecutive home postseason games.
The Dodgers had 11 hits in Thursday’s 6-1 victory, including a two-run homer by Adrian Gonzalez - the first postseason blast of his career. A.J. Ellis doubled twice and hopes to continue his surge as he is 4-for-10 with a homer against Game 2 starter Mike Minor. Atlanta had just five hits in the opener, with the high-priced B.J. Upton (.184 average) starting the game on the bench and the well-paid Dan Uggla (.179) left off the playoff roster.
TV: 6:07 p.m. ET, TBS
WEATHER: Temperatures in the mid 80s with partly cloudy skies and winds SE at 3 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers RH Zack Greinke (15-4, 2.63 ERA) vs. Braves LH Mike Minor (15-12, 3.11)
Greinke was just 1-1 over his last five starts despite allowing just six runs. He blanked Atlanta on four hits over seven innings on June 6 and is 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA in three career outings against the Braves. Greinke is 5-3 with a 3.23 ERA in 15 career postseason appearances (12 starts).
Minor is making his first career playoff start. He is 1-1 with a 2.32 ERA in five career starts against the Dodgers, including a 1-0 mark and 2.25 ERA in two outings this season. Minor went 0-4 with a 3.94 ERA in five September starts.
* Under is 4-1 in Minors last five starts vs. Dodgers.
* Under is 10-3 in the last 13 meetings.
* Under is 6-2-1 in the last nine meetings in Atlanta.
1. The Braves were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the opener, with 3B Chris Johnson delivering a run-scoring single.
2. Dodgers OF Andre Ethier (ankle) was included on the postseason roster and grounded out as a pinch hitter in the opener.
3. Atlanta RF Justin Upton is 5-for-11 with a homer against Greinke.