A look at what’s happening around the majors on Thursday:
A COAST TOASTY
Sooner than many baseball fans wanted, maybe, but the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers will meet in a winner-take-all Game 5 of the NL Division Series at Oracle Park.
Logan Webb, who was dominant in winning the opener for the Giants, faces Julio Urías, who led the majors with 20 victories and got the victory in Game 2.
At this point, both teams have posted 109 wins this season. Perhaps this matchup would’ve been even better in the NL Championship Series with a trip to the World Series at stake — no matter, Mookie Betts and the defending champion Dodgers are set to take on Buster Posey and the Giants.
“I think it’s only fitting,” Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler said.
The longtime rivals who began playing each other in 1884 share a star-studded history of meeting in all-of-nothing games.
In the decisive Game 3 of a 1951 NL pennant tiebreaker, Bobby Thomson hit what many consider the most famous home run ever when he connected for the “Shot ’Heard Round the World,” a three-run drive in the bottom of the ninth that lifted the New York Giants over Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-4 at the Polo Grounds.
The franchises had shifted to the West Coast when they played a best-of-three matchup for the 1962 NL pennant. After topping Los Angeles ace Sandy Koufax in the opener, San Francisco lost the next day. Mays then keyed a four-run rally in the ninth inning to win 6-4 in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.
Kiké Hernández, J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox work out at Minute Maid Park, a day before starting the AL Championship Series against the Houston Astros.
The wild-card Red Sox and the AL West champ Astros each ended their Division Series matchups in four games. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and their Houston teammates beat Boston 5-2 in the season series.
Neither team has announced its rotation for the best-of-seven series.
Boston manager Alex Cora will certainly draw a lot of attention in the lead-up to Game 1 Friday night.
Cora was Houston’s bench coach when it won the 2017 World Series, then became the Red Sox manager and guided them to the 2018 championship. Cora was fired by the team and suspended by Major League Baseball in 2020 for his role in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal and rehired for this season.
Fresh off a middle-of-the-pack performance at the plate, the Phillies hired Kevin Long as their hitting coach. The move reunites him with both manager Joe Girardi and star slugger Bryce Harper.
Philadelphia fired hitting coach Joe Dillon on the final day of the regular season. The Phillies finished second in the NL East at 82-80 and ranked seventh in the NL in runs and ninth in batting average.
The 54-year-old Long worked with Harper on the Nationals in 2018. Long was under Phillies manager Joe Girardi for seven years when they were with the Yankees and won the World Series in 2009.
“I have had a long-standing relationship with Kevin and have seen his work up close and in person for years,” Girardi said. “I truly believe he is the best in the business and will have a huge impact on our offense.”
Girardi and Long weren’t quite so cordial during a game at Citizens Bank Park in late June. After then-Nationals star Max Scherzer was checked by umpires for sticky substances, Girardi and Long got into a shouting match.
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