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  1. #2071
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    Fall 4! Cubs return to LCS, Fly The W in DC

    WASHINGTON -- And then there were four. The Cubs rallied against the Nationals and Max Scherzer in a bizarre four-run fifth inning that checked nearly every item in the box score to post a crazy 9-8 victory Thursday night and clinch the National League Division Series.

    Gio Gonzalez started for Washington, which scored four runs in the second against Chicago's Kyle Hendricks. But Scherzer took over in the fifth, and the Cubs didn't flinch. The right-hander got two quick outs, but what followed was two singles, a double, an intentional walk, a strikeout and passed ball, an error on catcher's interference and a hit batter. Phew.

    The Cubs not only used Hendricks but also starter Jose Quintana in relief and asked closer Wade Davis to get the final seven outs. Addison Russell drove in four runs, hitting a pair of run-scoring doubles, to help the Cubs advance to the NLCS for the third consecutive season.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  2. #2072
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    LEADING OFF: Keuchel, Astros face Yankees in ALCS opener
    October 12, 2017

    A look at what's happening all around the majors Friday:


    WILD REMATCH


    Astros ace Dallas Keuchel opposes Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka in the opener of their AL Championship Series at Minute Maid Park. It's a rematch of the 2015 wild-card game, when Keuchel dominated a lineup that included current New York regulars Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Greg Bird and Didi Gregorius - that group was 2 for 9 with four strikeouts against Keuchel in a 3-0 loss. Keuchel also stumped the Yankees in a start this May, striking out nine with just an unearned run over six innings.

    Tanaka had an up-and-down season but has been riding high of late. After finishing the regular season with a 15-strikeout game against Toronto, Tanaka pitched three-hit ball over seven innings in a 1-0 Game 3 win against Cleveland during the ALDS. The Japanese hurler with the nasty split-finger fastball has a 1.50 ERA over two career playoff starts.

    DON'T JUDGE HIM


    Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was out of whack in the AL Division Series, going 1 for 20 and striking out a whopping 16 times vs. Cleveland. The rookie led the AL with 52 home runs this season and also topped the majors with 208 strikeouts.

    Judge's slump brought to mind other severe playoff skids. Yankees star Robinson Cano went 3 for 40 in the 2012 postseason and was hitless in 29 straight at-bats. In 1995, big-hitting Reds outfielder Reggie Sanders struck out 19 times while going 4 for 29. Reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant fanned in six straight at-bats for the Cubs this week in the NLDS vs. Washington.

    TAKE YOUR TIME


    Dodgers star shortstop Corey Seager is getting over a sore back. He didn't practice during a workout at Dodger Stadium, two days before the NL Championship Series opener. The 23-year-old aggravated his back during the NLDS win over Arizona earlier this week. He's expected to be OK for Los Angeles in Game 1.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  3. #2073
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    MLB Playoff Record:.........

    DATE W-L-T % UNITS RECORD ( Best Bets & Opinions )

    10/12/2017 1-1-0 50.00% -0.50

    10/11/2017 3-1-0 75.00% +15.50

    10/09/2017 2-5-0 28.57% -16.75

    10/08/2017 2-2-0 50.00% -2.30

    10/07/2017 1-3-0 25.00% -10.50

    10/06/2017.......5-2-0......71.43%.....+16.25

    10/05/2017 ......1-3-0 .....25.00%..... -10.50

    10/04/2017 ......1-1-0..... 50.00%....... -0.50

    Total:...............15 -17......46.87%.......-8.80


    Best Bets:......................ATS.................... ...TOTAL.....................TOTAL O/U

    10/12/2017.................0 - 0........................0.00..................... ......0 - 1.......-5.50

    10/11/2017.................2 - 0.......................+15.00.................... ...0 - 1........-5.50

    10/09/2017.................0 - 1.......................- 5.00.........................1 - 3........-11.50

    10/08/2017.................0 - 0........................00.00.................... ....2 - 0.......+10.00

    10/07/2017.................0 - 2.......................-10.00........................1-0-1.......+5.00

    10/06/2017.................1 - 1.......................-1.00..........................3 - 1........+9.50

    10/05/2017.................0 - 2.......................-10.00........................1 - 1........-1.00

    10/04/2017.................1 - 0.......................+ 5.00........................0 - 1.......- 5.50


    TOTAL:........................4 - 6.......................- 6.00.......................9-9-1.......-4.50
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  4. #2074
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    Friday’s six-pack

    NFL trends for this weekend:

    — Cleveland is 3-12 vs spread in its last fifteen games.

    — Chiefs covered 10 of their last 11 games.

    — Denver is 6-1 vs spread in game after its last seven byes.

    — Falcons are 10-20 vs spread in last 30 games as a favorite.

    — Arizona is 3-13 vs spread in its last 16 games.

    — Houston is 8-1 in last nine games as a non-divisional home favorite.

    **********************

    Friday’s List of 13: Things I’m looking for this weekend……


    Things I’m looking for this weekend……
    13) 49ers are playing on road for third week in row; since 1997, underdogs are 23-34-1 vs spread if they’re on road for the 3rd week in a row.

    12) LSU is honoring the 2007 national champs Saturday night, which means Les Miles will be in the house. Maybe if they ask him really nice, he’ll come back and coach the Bayou Bengals, who already have a 37-7 loss at Miss State and a home loss to Troy this season.

    11) Dolphins are 2-2, despite scoring three offensive TD’s in four games; their OL coach being fired for alleged drug use, and their having played one home game so far. Miami visits Atlanta this week, a Falcon team coming off a bye— Falcons are 6-2 after their last eight byes.

    10) TCU is the last unbeaten team in the Big X; Kansas State covered 9 of its last 11 tries as a home underdog, but they’re coming off an OT loss to Texas.

    9) Giants lost 3 of their top 4 WR’s to injury last week, then suspended one of their best DB’s for four weeks after a sideline confrontation with the coach LW. Giants are a double digit underdog in Denver this week; an 0-6 start would have people calling for more heads to roll.

    8) Coming off of wins over USC/Oregon, Washington State has a trap game in Berkeley, where the Golden Bears are 8-16 vs spread in last 24 games as a home underdog.

    7) Chiefs are rolling at 5-0, but they lost twice to Pittsburgh LY. Roethlisberger is coming off one of the worst games of his career (5 INT’s vs Jaguars). Can Steelers bounce back here?

    6) Last three Oklahoma-Texas games were all decided by 7 or less points, with Longhorns 4-0 vs spread in last four series games. Texas State Fair is the backdrop for this historic rivalry, with Sooners coming off a loss to Iowa State. when they were favored by 31 points.

    5) It is Week 6 and Bills-Patriots-Jets are all tied atop AFC East, at 3-2. Buffalo has the week off, so winner of Patriot-Jet game is atop AFC East by himself. Jets won their last three games, but can their offense put up points against a struggling New England defense?

    4) San Diego State is 6-0 and Boise State is in the rare situation of being a road underdog in a Mountain West game. Broncos are 37-18 vs spread in last 55 road games, but they were favored in vast majority of those games. Aztecs are 29-13-1 vs spread in their last 43 conference games.

    3) Cleveland Browns passed on Deshaun Watson not once, but twice in LY’s draft; you think he remembers (undoubtedly, he does)? Texans scored 124 points in their last three games. Browns were held to 18 or less points in four of their five games.

    2) Florida State is 1-6 for the first time since 1976, when I was a senior in HS and Bobby Bowden was in his first year as the Seminoles’ coach. FSU lost to Miami last week for the first time in eight years— can they win here and get their season jumpstarted?

    1) Minnesota is 14-5 vs spread in its last 19 home games; they beat the Packers in Green Bay’s first visit to the Vikings’ new dome LY. Packers are playing their third dome game in six weeks to start the season; they’re 8-3 vs spread in their last 11 games.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  5. #2075
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    Friday's ALCS playoff betting preview and odds: Yankees at Astros

    Masahiro Tanaka gets the Game 1 nod after putting together the best start for New York in the ALDS - a seven-inning effort in which he scattered three hits and struck out seven without allowing a run.

    New York Yankees at Houston Astros (A: +150, H: -160, Total: 8)

    Series tied 0-0

    The New York Yankees already stared down four elimination games in the postseason and knocked off the American League's top seed with a Game 5 victory over the Cleveland Indians in the AL Division Series on Wednesday, and things are not getting any easier. The Yankees will try to avoid falling into another quick hole when they visit the Houston Astros for Game 1 of the AL Championship Series on Friday night.

    New York's hero in Game 5 of the ALDS turned out to be shortstop Didi Gregorius, who homered twice off probable AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and went 3-for-4 in the clinching game after going 1-for-13 in the first four games of the series. "Now that I'm here, being in this unbelievable, unbelievable organization, everything, all the history and everything that's been here with the team, and guys are helping each other, backing each other up, everybody is protecting each other, it's the best thing because everybody is together and the team is really united," Gregorius told reporters. The Yankees (241) were the only team in the AL to hit more home runs in the regular season than the Astros (238), who have been sitting around since polishing off a four-game victory over the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS on Monday and are happy to hold homefield advantage over New York. "The Indians won over 100 games and had the best record in the American League, but I don't think that means anything," Houston shortstop Carlos Correa told MLB.com. "It doesn't mean they're the toughest opponent. The Yanks are tough, as well, as they just proved, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the team with the best record in the AL. That's huge for them. They bring momentum into the series. It's just good to start at home."

    TV:
    8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

    INJURY REPORT:


    Yankees - SP L. Cessa (Out For Season, Ribs), SP M. Pineda (Out For Season, Elbow).

    Astros - CF J. Marisnick (Out For Season, Thumb), SP D. Paulino (Out For Season, Suspension), RP J. Gustave (Out For Season, Elbow).

    PITCHING MATCHUP:
    Yankees RH Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 1.59)

    Tanaka gets the Game 1 nod after putting together the best start for New York in the ALDS - a seven-inning effort in Game 3 in which he scattered three hits and struck out seven without allowing a run. The Japan native is enjoying a string of 14 consecutive scoreless frames going back to the regular season and owns 22 strikeouts in that span. Tanaka suffered through his worst start of the season against Houston on May 14, when he was roughed up for eight runs and seven hits - four homers - in 1 2/3 innings.

    Keuchel gets the Game 1 nod after Justin Verlander was used for four innings of relief in the clinching game of the ALDS in Boston. The 29-year-old Keuchel started Game 2 of the ALDS and breezed through 5 2/3 frames, striking out seven while allowing one run, to make it four starts in a row surrendering two or fewer runs going back to the regular season. Keuchel is 5-2 with a 1.24 ERA in seven career starts against New York, including six scoreless innings in the 2015 wild card game at Yankee Stadium.

    TRENDS:


    * Yankees are 1-5 in their last 6 playoff road games.
    * Astros are 13-3 in their last 16 home games.
    * Astros are 5-1 in Keuchel's last 6 starts vs. American League East.
    * Over is 5-0 in Tanaka's last 5 road starts.
    * Under is 6-0 in Astros' last 6 home games vs. a right-handed starter.
    * Over is 5-0 in the last 5 meetings.

    CONSENSUS:
    The public is siding with the home favorite Astros at a rate of 70 percent and the Over is picking up 70 percent of the totals action.


    ***********************


    MLB
    Long Sheet

    Friday, October 13


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NY YANKEES (95 - 73) at HOUSTON (104 - 62) - 7:05 PM
    MASAHIRO TANAKA (R) vs. DALLAS KEUCHEL (L)
    Top Trends for this game.
    NY YANKEES are 11-23 (-14.0 Units) against the money line on the road when the total is 8 to 8.5 this season.
    NY YANKEES are 3-11 (-9.6 Units) against the money line in road games when playing on Friday this season.
    NY YANKEES are 50-44 (-6.0 Units) against the money line after a win this season.
    NY YANKEES are 8-17 (-12.2 Units) against the money line in road games after 3 or more consecutive wins over the last 3 seasons.
    HOUSTON is 104-62 (+13.7 Units) against the money line in all games this season.
    HOUSTON is 81-38 (+25.2 Units) against the money line against right-handed starters this season.
    NY YANKEES are 50-33 (+15.4 Units) against the money line when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
    HOUSTON is 60-55 (-22.0 Units) against the money line in home games in night games over the last 2 seasons.
    HOUSTON is 50-43 (-14.6 Units) against the money line in home games after a win over the last 2 seasons.
    HOUSTON is 34-39 (-17.0 Units) against the money line in home games when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.
    HOUSTON is 17-23 (-12.9 Units) against the money line in home games when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season over the last 2 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    HOUSTON is 5-2 (+2.6 Units) against NY YANKEES this season
    5 of 7 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL this season . (Over=+2.8 Units)

    MASAHIRO TANAKA vs. HOUSTON since 1997
    TANAKA is 0-3 when starting against HOUSTON with an ERA of 8.86 and a WHIP of 1.701.
    His team's record is 1-4 (-3.3 units) in these starts. The UNDER is 2-3. (-1.3 units)

    DALLAS KEUCHEL vs. NY YANKEES since 1997
    KEUCHEL is 5-2 when starting against NY YANKEES with an ERA of 1.24 and a WHIP of 0.789.
    His team's record is 5-2 (+2.7 units) in these starts. The OVER is 2-5. (-3.3 units)

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------




    MLB
    Armadillo's Write-Up

    Friday, October 13


    New York @ Houston
    Astros are 5-2 against New York this season, winning 2 of 3 at home.

    Tanaka is 2-0, 0.00 (14 IP) in his last two starts; Over is 5-3-1 in his last nine starts. New York is 6-9 in his road starts this season. Tanaka is 1-1, 1.50 in two career postseason starts. Astros scored 8 runs in 1.2 IP off Tanaka May 14 in NY, a 10-7 Houston win.

    Keuchel is 3-1, 2.28 in his last four starts; four of his last five starts went over. He is 3-0, 2.29 in four postseason games (3 starts); Houston is 7-5 in his home starts. Keuchel allowed one (unearned run) in six IP at New York May 11, a 3-2 Astros win.

    AL Wild Card
    NYY 8-4 Minn -$255, O7.5

    NL Wild Card
    Ariz 11-8 Colo -$148, O8.5

    Hous 8-2 Bos, -$120, O7
    Hous 8-2 Bos, -$185, O8.5
    Bos 10-3 Hst, +$117, O9.5
    Hst 5-4 Bos, -$118, O8
    Astros win series, 3-1

    Clev 4-0 NYY -$130, U8.5
    Clev 9-8 NYY (13), -$210, O7
    NYY 1-0 Clev, -$109, U8.5
    NYY 7-3 Clev, -$150, O7.5
    NYY 5-2 Clev, +$165, N7
    New York wins series, 3-2

    Cubs 3-0 Wash +$135, U7.5
    Wash 6-3 Cubs, -$117, O8.5
    Cubs 2-1 Wash, +$105, U7.5
    Wash 5-0 Cubs, -$109, U7
    Cubs 9-8 Wash, -$115, O7.5
    Cubs win series, 3-2

    LA 9-4 Ariz -$270, O7.5
    LA 8-5 Ariz, -$142, O8
    LA 2-1 Ariz, -$115, U8
    Dodgers win series, 3-0




    MLB

    Friday, October 13


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trend Report
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    8:08 PM
    NY YANKEES vs. HOUSTON
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of NY Yankees's last 5 games when playing on the road against Houston
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of NY Yankees's last 5 games when playing Houston
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Houston's last 5 games when playing NY Yankees
    Houston is 9-2 SU in its last 11 games


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    MLB
    Dunkel

    Friday, October 13



    NY Yankees @ Houston

    Game 901-902
    October 13, 2017 @ 8:05 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    NY Yankees
    (Tanaka) 16.211
    Houston
    (Keuchel) 19.603
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Houston
    by 3
    9
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Houston
    -160
    8
    Dunkel Pick:
    Houston
    (-160); Under


    ***************************

    Runs have been the betting story of the MLB postseason.

    Over is 11-7-1 (61.1%) with an average of 9.47 total runs score per game.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  6. #2076
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    ALCS Cheat Sheet
    October 12, 2017


    2017 Head-to-Head Matchups (Houston 5-2, Under 5-2)

    Houston vs. New York (Yankee Stadium)
    May 11 - Astros 3 Yankees 2 (Under 7.5)
    May 12 - Astros 5 Yankees 1 (Under 8)
    May 14 - Yankees 11 Astros 6 (Over 9)
    May 14 - Astros 10 Yankees 7 (Over 8.5)

    New York vs. Houston (Minute Maid Park)
    June 30 - Yankees 13 Astros 4 (Over 8)
    July 1 - Astros 7 Yankees 6 (Over 9)
    July 2 - Astros 8 Yankees 1 (Over 8.5)


    The Indians and Astros were on a collision course to meet in the American League Championship Series following 100-win seasons. Houston finished off Boston in four games of the Divisional Series, while Cleveland led New York, 2-0 with three shots to eliminate the Yankees. However, the Indians fell apart by losing twice in the Bronx and then dropping Game 5 at home as a nearly -200 favorite as Cleveland won’t defend its American League pennant.

    The Yankees (91-71) rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the Wild Card round to knock out the Twins, 8-4, but lost the first two games of the ALDS to Cleveland. New York blew a five-run advantage in a 13-inning setback in Game 2, as it seemed like the season was over for Joe Girardi and the Yankees. But, the Bronx Bombers received a terrific pitching performance from Masahiro Tanaka in a Game 3 shutout, while the Yankees pulled away from the Indians in Game 4 to force the decisive Game 5 at Progressive Field.

    Shortshop Didi Gregorious belted a pair of home runs off Indians’ ace Corey Kluber to propel the Yankees to a 3-0 lead in Game 5 before Cleveland trimmed the deficit to 3-2. Brett Gardner’s base hit in the ninth inning brought home a pair of runs to send Cleveland to 0-5 in its past five postseason close-out games. The Yankees improved to 1-2 as an underdog in the playoffs as New York cashed as +170 ‘dogs, while advancing to their first ALCS since 2012.

    The Astros (101-61) didn’t want to fall in the same trap as the Indians after grabbing a 2-0 advantage in their series against the Red Sox. Houston dominated Boston twice by identical 8-2 scores at Minute Maid Park before getting tripped up in a 10-3 setback to the Red Sox at Fenway Park in Game 3. Boston was ready to force a Game 5 back in Houston as the Sox led the Astros, 3-2 in the eighth inning of Game 4 before Alex Bregman tied the game with a homer, followed by a Josh Reddick RBI single. Houston finished the job, 5-4 to advance to the ALCS for the first time since joining the American League and the first LCS appearance since 2005.

    The starting pitching advantage lies with the Astros, who showcase a pair of Cy Young winners in the first two games. Dallas Keuchel (14-5, 2.90 ERA) shut down the Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS, 8-2 as a -175 home favorite by tossing 5.2 innings of three-hit ball, while allowing one earned run. The Astros posted a 7-5 record in Keuchel’s 12 starts at Minute Maid Park, although the southpaw put together a solid 2.21 home ERA.

    Keuchel beat the Yankees as a short road underdog in May by yielding one unearned run in six innings of work as the Astros picked up a 3-2 victory. The left-hander has dominated the Yankees over the years by going 5-1 since 2015, including a 3-0 triumph in the Wild Card game in New York in 2015 by tossing six scoreless innings. Keuchel is undefeated in three postseason starts, which includes a 2-0 record at Minute Maid Park.

    Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.36 ERA) takes the mound in Game 2 as picked up a pair of wins against the Red Sox in the ALDS. Verlander is unbeaten in six starts since getting traded from Detroit in late August, as the right-hander allowed two earned runs in six innings of Game 1 against Boston, while pitching out of the bullpen for the first time in his career in the Game 4 clincher by throwing 2.2 innings of relief. Verlander didn’t face the Yankees this season, but picked up a 6-1 victory at Yankee Stadium last season as a +120 underdog as he yielded one earned run in 6.2 innings.

    Tanaka (13-12, 4.74 ERA) is coming off his two best starts of the season by striking out a combined 22 batters and walking only one in 14 scoreless innings against the Blue Jays and Indians. On the flip side, Tanaka’s worst start of the season came against Houston in mid-May as the Astros tagged him for eight earned runs and four homers in 1.2 innings of a 10-7 defeat. Girardi decided to give Tanaka the ball in Game 1 opposite Keuchel, reminiscent of their Wild Card matchup two years ago.

    Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA) rebounded from a poor performance in the Wild Card round against Minnesota by striking out nine and scattering four hits and three earned runs in a 7-3 triumph over Cleveland in Game 4 of the ALDS. The Yankees are 7-0 in Severino’s last seven starts, but the right-hander struggled in two outings against Houston this season. Severino survived only eight innings in two starts, while giving up nine earned runs, but the Yankees rallied for an 11-6 victory in New York back in May in one of those outings.

    The Yankees acquired Sonny Gray (10-12, 3.54 ERA) at the trade deadline from Oakland, but things haven’t worked out well for the right-hander. Gray owns a dreadful 4-9 record in 13 starts with the Bronx Bombers, including a 2-5 mark on the highway. In his only start against Cleveland in the ALDS, Gray lasted 3.1 innings in the series opener and gave up three hits and three earned runs in a 4-0 defeat. In the five road losses with the Yankees, New York’s offense hasn’t helped out Gray by scoring one run or fewer in each defeat. It will be tough sledding for Gray in the series opener, as he allowed five earned runs in five innings in an 8-4 loss to Houston as a member of the Athletics back in June.

    The first two meetings this season finished UNDER the total, but the final five matchups sailed OVER the total, as the winning team scored at least seven runs each time. The home team in the LCS has won each of the past four series openers since 2015, while underdogs went 6-0 from 2012-14 in Game 1’s of the LCS.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  7. #2077
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    Yanks pick up Girardi, get fresh start in 1st ALCS since '12
    October 13, 2017


    HOUSTON (AP) Joe Girardi embraced his coaches, then charged out of the New York Yankees' dugout, pumping his fists and hugging his players. With one back slap after another, there was no hiding his elation.

    The manager's miscues from Game 2 of the AL Division Series no longer mattered, all thanks to the battling baby Bronx Bombers.

    ''People make mistakes and we pick each other up, that's what we do here,'' first baseman Greg Bird said. ''We're going to keep doing that. ... It's got us to where we are, and it's going to get us to where we want to be.''

    New York is set to face Houston in its first AL Championship Series since 2012, which was three years after its last World Series - that coming in Girardi's second season as manager. It is still uncertain if he will get an 11th year as the Yankees skipper.

    A week after their season was on the brink of ending - down 2-0 in the best-of-five series against the 102-win Cleveland Indians - the Yankees are in a new series.

    Girardi described the difference between his emotions ''as big as you get'' from the aftermath of the Game 2 loss to the end of the Game 5 clincher in Cleveland on Wednesday night. He said he has never felt as bad in his career as he did after that second game.

    New York plays the first two games of the best-of-seven ALCS on the road against the Astros. After games at Minute Maid Park on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, the series will shift to Yankee Stadium for Game 3 on Monday.

    ''That's a good way of putting it, fresh start. I think for (Girardi), New York's crazy. It's tough. When you're a manager there, you're going to go through a lot of criticism, a lot of ups and a lot more downs,'' third baseman Todd Frazier said. ''So he took it to heart and we felt for him, and as a team we came together. He just said: `Hey, let's go one game at a time like we've been doing.' And lo and behold we won three in a row.''

    Girardi, whose contract expires after this season, was booed at home during introductions before ALDS Game 3 on Sunday night at Yankee Stadium, two days after starter CC Sabathia was pulled after only 77 pitches and the bullpen then squandered a five-run lead.

    Most notably, there was Girardi's decision to not ask for a replay challenge of a pivotal hit-by-pitch call prior to Francisco Lindor's grand slam that trimmed the margin to 8-7 in the sixth. Cleveland won 9-8 in 13 innings.

    Before Game 3, Girardi met with his team and ''told them I screwed up. Plain and simple.'' After owning up, he told them to focus on winning the next game. They went on to take the series.

    ''The game, it's going to knock you down. We were able to get back up, and obviously it was a nice result for him,'' infielder Chase Headley said. ''I know it's a tough moment for him. ... When you're playing these short series, a lot of things get exaggerated. It's kind of fun to start over.''

    Still, Bird said the ALDS was an intense series that was a lot of fun - and a great learning experience for this Yankees team with its mix of young and veteran players.

    Girardi certainly had no concerns about the state of his players after an emotional ALDS when facing elimination three consecutive games - and that was after the win-or-go-home AL wild-card game over Minnesota.

    ''I think we're on an emotional high,'' Girardi said. ''I'm not concerned. I think they're in a good state mentally.''

    The manager was also feeling pretty good again.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Astros add RHP McHugh for ALCS against New York Yankees
    October 13, 2017


    HOUSTON (AP) Right-hander Collin McHugh has been added to the Houston Astros roster for the AL Championship Series against the New York Yankees.

    The Astros are going with 12 pitchers and 13 position players for the best-of-seven series that starts Friday at Minute Maid Park.

    McHugh, who went 5-2 with a 3.55 ERA in 12 starts during an injury-plagued season, had been the odd-man out when manager A.J Hinch went with only 11 pitchers for their AL Division Series win over Boston. McHugh replaced infielder Tyler White as the only change on their ALCS roster.
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    Keuchel looks to continue success vs. NY
    October 12, 2017


    HOUSTON (AP) Dallas Keuchel is tired of talking about his success against the New York Yankees.

    It didn't matter on Thursday, though. It was an unavoidable subject for Houston's ace as he prepares to start against them in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series on Friday night. Masahiro Tanaka will pitch for New York, which is in the championship series for the first time since 2012.

    ''I've been asked that question like 10 times already,'' a slightly exasperated Keuchel said. ''I don't know, I mean, we're one of only four teams left, so at this point a lot of guys have had success pitching-wise on either the Indians or the Yankees.''

    Unlike the pitcher, manager A.J. Hinch didn't shy away from singing Keuchel's praises for his work against the Yankees. He joked that the lefty will probably feel better when he takes the mound and sees players in Yankees uniforms. But he was quick to point out that Keuchel's success certainly hasn't been limited to games against New York.

    ''I know there's a confidence level,'' Hinch said. ''And to be honest with you, when Dallas is right, he's confident against anybody. I don't think who the names are or who the jersey is, he knows he can get anybody out in the league.''

    But Keuchel has pitched better than most against the Yankees in recent years, going 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA and 45 strikeouts in six regular-season starts. His biggest win to date against them came in the 2015 AL wild-card game when he and the then-upstart Astros got a 3-0 win in the Bronx. He struck out seven and scattered three hits over six innings to get the win in Houston's first trip to the postseason in a decade after years of rebuilding and losing.

    ''For that win in the wild-card game, it wasn't just special for me and the validation, it was special for everybody to go into New York and play that well,'' he said. ''But now we look back on it and it's probably one of the most magical times that I'll have in my career and it's something I'll never forget, for sure.''

    Keuchel gets the nod in the opener after pitching behind Justin Verlander in the ALDS. Verlander, who was acquired on Aug. 31, made his first career relief appearance to help eliminate the Red Sox in Game 4 on Monday.

    Hinch sees Keuchel and Verlander as 1A and 1B in his rotation, so who pitched first wasn't that big of a deal to him.

    ''Dallas is really good, so I'm not the least bit hesitant on starting him,'' Hinch said. ''When we made the move to pitch Verlander in Game 4 out of relief we had the backdrop that Dallas was going to start Game 5. So I have all the confidence in the world.''

    Keuchel won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015 when he went 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA before struggling last season, with a 9-12 record and 4.55 ERA. He bounced back this year despite neck issues, posting a 14-5 record with a 2.90 ERA to help the Astros run away with the AL West title.

    He built off that in his first start this postseason when he yielded three hits and a run in 5 2/3 innings to help Houston to an 8-2 win over the Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS. That made him 3-0 with a 2.29 ERA in four postseason appearances with three starts.

    ''Dallas Keuchel has been remarkable as an Astro, he's been remarkable in my three years here,'' Hinch said. ''We hand him the ball and the entire room knows we have a chance to win.''

    Tanaka had an inconsistent September that included two starts where he gave up seven earned runs and was capped by one where he struck out 15 in seven scoreless innings before he pitched the Yankees to a 1-0 win in Game 3 against the Indians. He allowed just three hits in seven scoreless innings in his second career postseason game.

    ''His stuff was great the other day, he's had some really big starts, his last two starts have been outstanding,'' manager Joe Girardi said. ''And there's a lot of times that he really gets on a roll and he puts a bunch of them together and we're going to need a good one from him tomorrow.''

    These pitchers will face two of the best hitters in the majors in Houston's Jose Altuve and New York rookie Aaron Judge. The two are front-runners to MVP after Altuve led the majors with a .346 average and Judge was first in the AL with 52 homers.

    Altuve has kept up his blistering pace in the postseason, where he's hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs. But Judge has had a tough time, going just 1 for 20 with 16 strikeouts in the five-game win over Cleveland.

    The 25-year-old Judge isn't daunted by his difficult postseason.

    ''I don't think anyone who goes through a season has a perfect season,'' Judge said. ''So just keep playing my game, keep having fun ... just contribute any way I can.''

    After Keuchel and Tanaka meet on Friday, Verlander and Luis Severino will pitch in Game 2 on Saturday in Houston. The Yankees said CC Sabathia will pitch Game 3 in New York and Sonny Gray will go in Game 4. Houston's hasn't announced its rotation past Saturday.
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    MLB Playoff Record:.........

    DATE W-L-T % UNITS RECORD ( Best Bets & Opinions )

    10/12/2017 1-1-0 50.00% -0.50
    10/11/2017 3-1-0 75.00% +15.50
    10/09/2017 2-5-0 28.57% -16.75
    10/08/2017 2-2-0 50.00% -2.30
    10/07/2017 1-3-0 25.00% -10.50
    10/06/2017.......5-2-0......71.43%.....+16.25
    10/05/2017 ......1-3-0 .....25.00%..... -10.50
    10/04/2017 ......1-1-0..... 50.00%....... -0.50

    Total:...............15 -17......46.87%.......-8.80


    Best Bets:......................ATS.................... ...TOTAL.....................TOTAL O/U

    10/12/2017.................0 - 0........................0.00..................... ......0 - 1.......-5.50
    10/11/2017.................2 - 0.......................+15.00.................... ...0 - 1........-5.50
    10/09/2017.................0 - 1.......................- 5.00.........................1 - 3........-11.50
    10/08/2017.................0 - 0........................00.00.................... ....2 - 0.......+10.00
    10/07/2017.................0 - 2.......................-10.00........................1-0-1.......+5.00
    10/06/2017.................1 - 1.......................-1.00..........................3 - 1........+9.50
    10/05/2017.................0 - 2.......................-10.00........................1 - 1........-1.00
    10/04/2017.................1 - 0.......................+ 5.00........................0 - 1.......- 5.50

    TOTAL:........................4 - 6.......................- 6.00.......................9-9-1.......-4.50



    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13

    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS

    NYY at HOU 08:00 PM

    NYY +160 *****

    U 8.0 *****
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    Yankee whiffer: Keuchel, 'D' jolt NYY in G1

    HOUSTON -- Dallas Keuchel owned the moment and the Yankees in a way that only he can Friday night, throwing seven masterful innings to lead the Astros to a 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series presented by Camping World at Minute Maid Park.

    Keuchel struck out 10 -- a postseason record by an Astros left-hander -- and was backed by key contributions from longtime teammates Jose Altuve, who beat out an infield single and scored the first run in a two-run fourth, and Marwin Gonzalez, who threw out a runner at the plate to end the top of the fifth and preserve the shutout.

    Keuchel joined Mike Scott and Nolan Ryan as the only Astros pitchers to have at least 10 strikeouts in the postseason. Scott and Ryan both did it in the 1986 National League Championship Series against the Mets. Keuchel is only left-hander to reach double-digit strikeouts in the postseason in Astros history.

    Greg Bird broke up the shutout in the ninth with a two-out homer off Astros closer Ken Giles, marking Bird's third homer of the postseason. The Astros will send Justin Verlander to the mound in Saturday afternoon's Game 2 against Luis Severino of the Yankees.

    Keuchel, who threw six scoreless innings to beat the Yankees in the 2015 AL Wild Card Game, allowed only four singles. The only runner that reached second base against him came in the fifth, when Bird singled and went to second on an Altuve fielding error. Gonzalez bailed him out when he threw Bird out at the plate from left field to end the inning following a Aaron Judge single.

    Altuve sparked the Astros in the fourth when he beat out an infield hit, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Carlos Correa. Correa scored one out later in a single by Yuli Gurriel to put Houston ahead, 2-0. Keuchel took it from there and sent down the Yankees in order in the sixth and seventh.

    MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

    Start me up: With "M-V-P!" chants ringing throughout the crowd, Altuve sparked the Astros' offense in the fourth, legging out an infield single to second baseman Starlin Castro for Houston's first hit off Tanaka. Altuve stole second base, sliding in ahead of Gary Sanchez's one-hop throw, then scored as Correa lined a run-scoring single into left field. Gurriel knocked a two-out single to center later in the inning that provided Keuchel with a 2-0 lead.

    Motion denied
    : As he did in Game 4 of the AL Division Series presented by Doosan against the Red Sox, Gonzalez threw out a runner at home plate to save a run. This time, Gonzalez fielded Judge's sharp fifth-inning single and uncorked a 97.4 mph laser, nailing Bird attempting to score from second base. The Yankees challenged, but the call on the field was confirmed, ending the inning. Gonzalez is the first left fielder with outfield assists in consecutive postseason games since Jim Rice in the 1986 World Series.

    Strand man: After Brett Gardner worked a one-out walk in the eighth against Chris Devenski, Sanchez looked at ball four from Giles, putting the potential tying run at first base with two outs. The Yankees sent pinch-runner Ronald Torreyes in for Sanchez, but Giles was able to strike out Didi Gregorius, who hit a key three-run homer in the AL Wild Card Game against the Twins and homered twice against the Indians in the deciding ALDS Game 5.

    WHAT'S NEXT

    Yankees: Severino returns to the mound Saturday at 4 p.m. ET after excelling in a pivotal ALDS Game 4 start against Cleveland on Monday. Severino went seven strong frames, surrendering three runs on four hits with nine strikeouts in a 7-3 win at Yankee Stadium. He struggled in two starts against the Astros this season, allowing nine runs on 15 hits over 7 2/3 innings.

    Astros: Verlander, who won two games in the ALDS against the Red Sox (Game 1 as a starter and Game 4 in relief), starts Game 2 of the ALCS at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday at Minute Maid Park. He's 9-6 with a 3.36 ERA in 18 career postseason games (17 starts).
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    LEADING OFF: Dodgers get weary Cubs; Verlander vs. Severino
    October 13, 2017

    A look at what's happening all around the majors Saturday:


    RESTED DODGERS, WEARY CUBS


    Los Angeles has been waiting comfortably at home since Tuesday to begin their NL Championship Series, while Chicago enters the opener fatigued and well-traveled. The Cubs finished a 4-hour, 37-minute victory in Washington early Friday morning to clinch their NLDS, then sat on their ensuing charter flight to the West Coast for about 10 hours after a passenger's medical problem forced a long stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After arriving around lunchtime Friday, they had to skip a scheduled workout to catch up on sleep.

    ''So we're going to be tired (Saturday). Who cares?'' Chicago manager Joe Maddon asked Friday. ''They're going to be ready to play.''

    CALLING ON CLAYTON


    The Dodgers turn to ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1, while the Cubs are likely deciding between Jose Quintana and John Lackey but hadn't announced a decision as of Friday night.

    Kershaw won Game 1 against Arizona in the Dodgers' NLDS despite allowing four solo homers - the left-hander got aggressive in the zone after Los Angeles spotted him a big lead early. In last year's NLCS against Chicago, Kershaw went seven innings in a 1-0 Game 2 victory but struggled in a decisive Game 6 loss, allowing five runs in five innings to the World Series champions.

    BACK TO START


    Returning to his usual role as a starter, Justin Verlander gets the ball for Houston in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Yankees. Verlander came out of the bullpen to win ALDS Game 4 against Boston, throwing 40 pitches over 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander will be working on four days' rest since that outing and should be well rested, even if his routine is a little off.

    Luis Severino will pitch for New York. The 23-year-old fire-baller is coming off a Game 4 win over Cleveland last round, when he struck out seven and pitched three-run ball over seven innings.
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    A capsule look at the Cubs-Dodgers playoff series
    October 13, 2017

    A look at the best-of-seven National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers:

    ---

    Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Saturday, at Los Angeles, 8:08 p.m. (TBS); Game 2, Sunday, at Los Angeles, 7:38 p.m. (TBS); Game 3, Tuesday, Oct. 17, at Chicago, 9:01 p.m. (TBS); Game 4, Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Chicago, 9:01 p.m. or 8:08 p.m. (TBS); x-Game 5, Thursday, Oct. 19, at Chicago, 8:08 p.m. (TBS); x-Game 6, Saturday, Oct. 21, at Los Angeles, 4:08 p.m. or 8:08 p.m. (TBS); x-Game 7, Sunday, Oct. 22, at Los Angeles, 7:38 p.m. (TBS).

    x-if necessary.

    ---

    Season Series: Dodgers won 4-2.

    ---

    Projected Lineups:

    Cubs:
    CF Jon Jay (.296, 2 HRs, 34 RBIs, .374 OBP) or 2B-OF Ben Zobrist (.232, 12, 50), 3B Kris Bryant (.295, 29, 73, .409 OBP), 1B Anthony Rizzo (.273, 32, 109, .392 OBP), C Willson Contreras (.276, 21, 74), LF Kyle Schwarber (.211, 30, 59, 150 Ks), SS Addison Russell (.239, 12, 43), RF Jason Heyward (.259, 11, 59), 2B Javier Baez (.273, 23, 75).

    Dodgers: CF Chris Taylor (.288, 21, 72, 17 SBs), SS Corey Seager (.295, 22, 77), 3B Justin Turner (.322, 21, 71, 56 Ks, 59 BBs), 1B Cody Bellinger (.267, 39, 97), LF Curtis Granderson (.212, 26, 64, .323 OBP with Mets and Dodgers; .161, 7, 12, .288 OBP in 36 games with Dodgers), 2B Logan Forsythe (.224, 6, 36) or Chase Utley (.236, 8, 34), C Yasmani Grandal (.247, 22, 58), RF Yasiel Puig (.263, 28, 74, 15 SBs).

    ---

    Starting Pitchers:

    Cubs:
    RH Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA; 2.19 in 13 starts after All-Star break), LH Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33, 180 Ks in 180 2/3 IP), LH Jose Quintana (11-11, 4.15 with White Sox and Cubs), RH Jake Arrieta (14-10, 3.53).

    Dodgers: LH Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31, 202 Ks, 30 BBs, 23 HRs allowed in 27 starts, 175 IP), LH Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32, 166 Ks in 25 starts, 135 2/3 IP), RH Yu Darvish (10-12, 3.86, 209 Ks, 27 HRs allowed in 31 starts with Rangers and Dodgers), LH Alex Wood (16-3, 2.72 in 27 games, 25 starts).

    ---

    Relievers:

    Cubs:
    RH Wade Davis (4-2, 2.30, 32/33 saves), LH Brian Duensing (1-1, 2.74), RH Pedro Strop (5-4, 2.83), RH Carl Edwards Jr. (5-4, 2.98), LH Mike Montgomery (7-8, 3.38, 44 games, 14 starts, 3 saves), RH Hector Rondon (4-1, 4.24), RH John Lackey (12-12, 4.59, 31 games, 30 starts), LH Justin Wilson (4-4, 3.41, 13 saves with Tigers and Cubs; 5.09 in 23 appearances for Cubs), RH Justin Grimm (1-2, 5.53).

    Dodgers: RH Kenley Jansen (5-0, 1.32, 41/42 saves, tied for NL lead), RH Josh Fields (5-0, 2.84, 2 saves), LH Tony Cingrani (0-0, 4.22, 52 Ks, 12 BBs, 42 2/3 IP in 47 games with Reds and Dodgers; 2.79 in 22 games with Dodgers), RH Brandon Morrow (6-0, 2.06, 2 saves), LH Tony Watson (7-4, 3.38, 10 saves in 71 games with Pirates and Dodgers; 2-1, 2.70 in 24 games with Dodgers), RH Pedro Baez (3-6, 2.95), RH Ross Stripling (3-5, 3.75, 2 saves), RH Kenta Maeda (13-6, 4.22, 1 save in 29 games, 25 starts), LH Luis Avilan (2-3, 2.93, 61 games).

    ---

    Matchups:


    Chicago is making its third straight appearance in the NLCS and looking to knock off Los Angeles for the second year in row. The Cubs eliminated the Dodgers in six games in 2016 on the way to their first World Series title since 1908. The Dodgers shut out the Cubs in Games 2 and 3 behind dominant starts by Kershaw and Hill. But the Cubs took the next three, with Hendricks outpitching Kershaw in a 5-0 win in Game 6 at Wrigley Field. ...

    The Dodgers outscored the Cubs 22-11 in head-to-head meetings this season.

    ... Los Angeles outscored Arizona 20-11 in its NLDS sweep. Turner hit .462 (6 for 13) with five RBIs against the Diamondbacks, and Puig batted .455 (5 for 11). ...

    Lester and Baez were co-MVPs of the NLCS last year. Lester is coming off a strong NLDS against Washington, with a 1.86 ERA in two appearances. He pitched six innings of one-run ball in Game 2. He relieved Jake Arrieta in Game 4 and retired first 10 batters he faced. Baez was 0 for 14 in the NLDS. ...

    Bryant was 4 for 20 with 10 strikeouts against Washington. ... After managing eight runs through the first four games of the NLDS, the Cubs closed out the Nationals with a wild 9-8 win. ...

    Wood made two starts against Chicago this season and went 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA. He struck out 12 in 8 2/3 innings. ...

    Kershaw got hit hard in his only start against the Cubs this year, allowing four runs and a season-high 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision on May 28. ...

    Cubs OF Albert Almora Jr. went 4 for 9 in five games against the Dodgers this year. He hit .342 against left-handers this season, making him a tempting start for manager Joe Maddon against Kershaw, Hill or Wood. ...

    Rizzo batted .292 with two homers and five RBIs against Los Angeles this season. The team batting average for the six games versus the Dodgers was .191.

    ---

    Big Picture:


    Cubs:
    That long championship drought for the Cubs seems like ancient history with each passing day. Chicago is the first team with three straight appearances in the NLCS since St. Louis made it four times in a row from 2011-14. It has survived four straight win-or-be-eliminated postseason games, including three straight to end the 2016 World Series. ... The Cubs last won consecutive World Series in 1907 and 1908. They are trying to become first team to repeat as champion since New York Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000. ... Chicago has played a major league-high 517 games since the start of the 2015 season. The Blue Jays and Dodgers are tied for second at 506 games. The Cubs also lead the majors with 310 wins over that same time span, with the Dodgers in second at 297 victories.

    Dodgers:
    Is this the year? Los Angeles has made it to the playoffs for five straight years and nine times in last 14 seasons, but it hasn't made it to the World Series since it won it all in 1988. After a first-round sweep against Arizona, the Dodgers are rested and their rotation is lined up for the rematch with the Cubs. ... Los Angeles finished with the majors' best record for the first time since 1974 and will enjoy home-field advantage throughout the postseason. It went 57-24 at Dodger Stadium during the regular season, finishing with five more wins than any other team had at home, and then outscored Arizona 17-10 in its two home wins in the NLDS.

    ---

    Watch For:

    -Turner's Time. Turner is batting .388 (26 for 67) with three homers and 17 RBIs in his last 19 playoff games. The All-Star third baseman has developed into one of the game's most dangerous hitters. Holding him in check will be one of Chicago's top priorities.

    -Closing Time.
    Chicago's bullpen was shaky against Washington - even Davis. All but automatic during the regular season, the three-time All-Star gave up Michael A. Taylor's grand slam in Game 4. He got the last seven outs of Game 5 in his longest appearance since 2012. But he yielded a run in the eighth inning before working a perfect ninth.

    -Kershaw's Chance
    . Kershaw has done it all during his stellar major league career, except lead Los Angeles into the World Series. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner is 5-7 with a 4.63 ERA in 19 career playoff games. He pitched 6 1/3 innings in the playoff opener against Arizona and was charged with four runs and five hits.
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    Cubs arrive late in L.A. after plane stop
    October 13, 2017


    The Chicago Cubs' overnight flight to Los Angeles lasted into Friday afternoon before arriving more than five hours behind schedule.

    The United charter plane landed at Los Angeles International Airport at 12:09 p.m. PT (3:09 p.m. ET) after a five-hour stop in Albuquerque, N.M. when a person on board became ill.

    The Cubs open the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. They wrapped up the NL Division Series against the Washington Nationals on Thursday night.

    According to flight tracking logs, Chicago departed Washington Dulles airport at 4:07 a.m. ET. The flight diverted to Albuquerque just more than three hours later when a non-player was ill. That person was transported to an Albuquerque hospital.

    The unexpected landing created another problem -- the pilots ran out of flight time and needed to be replaced. Five hours later, at 10:28 a.m. MT (12:28 a.m. ET) the flight departed Albuquerque for Los Angeles.
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    Rested Dodgers welcome weary Cubs in compelling NLCS rematch
    October 13, 2017


    LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Dodgers are tanned, rested and ready. They won 104 games this season and swept their first playoff matchup, giving them four days off in the Southern California sun before the NL Championship Series.

    The Chicago Cubs had to grind out a 277-minute victory in Washington to clinch their division series, and they sat on their ensuing charter flight to the West Coast for about 10 hours after a passenger's medical problem forced a long stop in Albuquerque. After arriving around lunchtime Friday, they had to skip a scheduled workout to catch up on sleep and rest.

    Whether the dominant Dodgers can use those advantages in any meaningful way against the possibly bedraggled World Series champions will be revealed when these powerhouse clubs play for the NL pennant again.

    In Game 1 on Saturday night, Clayton Kershaw will pitch with a full week of rest. The Cubs hadn't figured out who would oppose him by late Friday afternoon.

    ''So we're going to be tired (Saturday). Who cares?'' Chicago manager Joe Maddon asked Friday. ''They're going to be ready to play. Regardless of being stuck on the runway, getting in late - whatever it takes, our guys are ready to play. Kershaw is good. But so are our guys, too.''

    The Cubs and Dodgers are back for a rematch of last season's NLCS, which Chicago won in six games after Los Angeles took a 2-1 lead. The Dodgers won 18 more games than the Cubs this season, and they have plenty in their favor this October after four straight failures to reach the World Series with high-priced NL West championship teams.

    The Dodgers also have far more pressure than the Cubs, and they realize it. As the whole world knows, Chicago ended its 108-year championship drought last fall. The Cubs are in their third straight NLCS, their reputation as lovable losers thoroughly buried.

    The Dodgers' World Series drought is a paltry 28 years, but it looms large in LA.

    ''We had the best record in baseball during the regular season, which doesn't mean anything now,'' infielder Kike Hernandez said. ''We won the division series, which doesn't mean anything in the next series. We got within two games of the World Series last year, and (the Cubs) just manhandled us the next three games. It hurt. If we did get better, that means we should get to the World Series and win it. If we don't do that, not a single person here is going to be happy.''

    Kershaw gave up four homers in the NLDS opener, but his teammates made them irrelevant with a huge offensive game. With three Cy Young Awards and an NL MVP trophy, Kershaw has just about everything in baseball except reaching the World Series.

    With a full week of rest heading into Game 1, the lefty and his Dodgers likely have their best chance yet.

    ''In years past, it's been Game 5s and a lot of travel and not having home field, so it's definitely a different spot for us,'' Kershaw said. ''It was kind of fun (Thursday) watching them duke it out while we were sitting around. It was great. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. The Cubs are here now, and I know they had some travel stuff that was rough, but I have a feeling they're going to be ready to go.''

    Here are more things to think about this weekend at Dodger Stadium:

    LESSONS FROM LAST YEAR:
    The Dodgers still sting from losing the final three games of last year's NLCS, failing to homer in all three defeats. Compounding their misery, their bus had trouble leaving Wrigley Field while the neighborhood was filled with celebrating fans. When asked what he learned from last year's loss, Kershaw quipped: ''Try to walk a few blocks and get an Uber if we lose again.'' The Dodgers think they're better equipped to counter the Cubs with additions including rookie cleanup hitter Cody Bellinger , a much-improved Yasiel Puig and an extraordinarily deep group of pitchers, including starter Kenta Maeda as a right-handed specialist in the bullpen.

    DO IT AGAIN: The Cubs outlasted the Nats despite batting .180 and getting outscored 20-17. That level of production probably won't cut it against the Dodgers, but Maddon senses a resilience in his champions. ''(It was) probably a little bit more difficult to get to this point than it was last year,'' he said. ''I talked about the hangover being a real thing. I thought we dealt with it up front. Right now, we're playing with that same kind of mental acumen and edge that I've seen the last two years.''

    FORECASTING: The Cubs and Dodgers haven't faced each other since late May, when Los Angeles swept a three-game series despite facing Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Arrieta. When the Dodgers were near the end of their 82-25 summer surge in August, Maddon said he still liked the way Chicago matches up with the Dodgers in the postseason. ''He's getting his wish,'' Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Friday.

    SEAGER'S BACK: Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager skipped the club's workout because his ''back has been barking,'' Roberts said. Last season's NL Rookie of the Year went 3 for 11 with four walks and two RBIs in the division series after batting .295 in the regular season. Roberts is ''very optimistic'' Seager will play in Game 1, but Chris Taylor or Hernandez could replace him.

    START ME UP:
    Roberts announced two decisions on starting pitchers before he knew the Dodgers' opponent: Kershaw is on the mound for the opener, and All-Star left-hander Alex Wood will pitch Game 4. Roberts revealed Friday that Rich Hill will pitch Game 2, and Yu Darvish will start Game 3 in Chicago. Wood didn't pitch in the NLDS thanks to the Dodgers' sweep, which means the 16-game winner will hit the mound in Chicago on 21 days' rest.
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