Astros, Yankees, Cardinals, Nationals survive divisional round in MLB playoffs

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Matthew Szymanowski, Deputy Sports Editor

10 teams made it to the MLB postseason. Now there are only four left: the Houston Astros, the New York Yankees, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Washington Nationals.

The Astros had the best record in the MLB going into the playoffs. Led by two Cy Young candidates, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, they were favorites to win the World Series.

They did not have an easy first-round, though, after facing the wildcard winning Tampa Bay Rays.

After Verlander and Cole led them to a 2-0 series lead, their offense was shut down and lost the next two games in Tampa Bay.

In the do-or-die game five, Gerrit Cole closed the door on the Rays season after throwing eight strong innings to advance the Astros to the ALCS.

On the other side of the ALDS, the New York Yankees faced Minnesota Twins. In one of the most highly anticipated series of the first round, it failed to live up to the hype.

The Yankees came out swinging as their offense destroyed the Minnesota pitching.

The Yankees pitching held their ground against the Twins, too, and swept Minnesota in three games.

While the favorites won in the American League, the National League was a different story.

After the St. Louis Cardinals edged out a division title in the last week of the season, they were faced against the red-hot Atlanta Braves.

The comeback kids of St. Louis were not fazed with this task though.

After trailing late in Game 1, they battled back and won in Atlanta.

After losing Games 2 and 3, they were losing by one run in the eighth inning in Game 4. Veteran all-star Yadier Molina came to the plate and delivered a clutch game-tying single. Two innings later, he hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to force a Game 5 in Atlanta.

In Game 5 in Atlanta, the Cardinals set a record for most runs scored in the first inning (10), and never looked back. They beat the Braves 13-1 and advanced to the NLCS.

The last team going into the final four is the Washington Nationals.

After losing franchise player Bryce Harper to free agency this past winter, the Nationals did not seem to be a major threat.

Even though they did not win their division, the Nationals won enough games and found their way into a wildcard spot.

Following a comeback win in over the Brewers in the wildcard game, they had to face the back-to-back NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

After losing Game 1, Stephen Strasburg led the Nationals to a win in LA in Game 2.

They were able to split Games 3 and 4 at home to force a Game 5 back in Los Angeles.

After trailing 3-1 going into the eighth inning, star batters Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto hit back-to-back solo home runs to tie the game at three.

Going into extra innings, veteran Howie Kendrick delivered the biggest hit in franchise history when he hit a grand slam over the center-field fence to give the Nationals a 7-3 lead.

They closed the game out and eliminated the Dodgers in five games.

In the National League, the Nationals will play the Cardinals starting on Friday, Oct. 11.

In the American League, the Yankees will battle the Astros starting on Saturday, Oct. 12.

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