Reyes: Flashing the Leather

Logo for Flashing the Leather column. - Graphic / Spencer Reyes

New York Ranger Expected to Play After 11-month Rehab

Right winger Sammy Blais will step onto the ice this week in a Rangers uniform for the first time in almost a year. He has been rehabbing his knee ever since he collided with former New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban.

This freak accident was on Nov. 14 of last year, but Blais and company feel that he is ready to go. He was slated to make the opening night roster but was injured during the last preseason game against the New York Islanders. 

Alexander Romanov of the Islanders checked Blais into the wall, causing him to leave the game. Originally this scared Rangers fans, as he had only played 14 games last season and was already out in the first period into the game, but the Rangers front office confirmed that he would be okay and just needed rest. 

Blais will be playing in the spot of his usual linemate, Ryan Carpenter, who will be out for some time after his ear was slashed by a skate in last Friday’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Blais will be jumping up to the third offensive line to partner with Filip Chytil and returner Jimmy Vesey, while Barclay Goodrow will move to the fourth line with Dryden Hunt and Ryan Reaves.

It should be interesting to see how Blais will play this week after not playing for 337 days.

The Final Four…Well, Maybe Just not yet

Three more MLB teams were sent home this weekend, and three more teams have clinched spots in the penultimate round, but two teams will continue to duke it out for the final spot in the Championship Series.

National League Championship Series 

On Saturday, Oct. 15, both the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres punched their ticket into the NLCS.

The Phillies came back from a Game 2 loss 3-0 to finish out the series with two wins in a row. They squeaked by the first game of the series, winning 7-6 with help offensively from Bryce Harper who batted three for three with a run and walk, as well as Nick Castellanos batting .600 while recording one run and three RBIs.

The Atlanta Braves took over Game 2, only letting up three hits, but not allowing a single run across the plate. Game 3 went in the Phillies’ favor, as Rhys Hoskins and Harper both hit home runs in a 9-1 blowout win. The final game was also dominated by Philadelphia, with a total of three team home runs, 13 hits and eight runs compared to Atlanta’s three runs. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers took the first game of the round, 5-3 and had expected to steamroll San Diego out of the playoffs. The Padres had other plans, as they came back to win Games 2, 3 and 4, letting up seven total runs throughout the remaining games, while scoring 12 against Los Angeles.

Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth helped shut down Game 2, collectively batting three for nine, with three runs and four RBIs. Game 3 was a bullpen battle as Tony Gonsolin of the Dodgers was pulled after 1.1 innings of work, and Blake Snell only pitched 5.1 innings for the Padres. The Padres sneaked a 2-1 win away from L.A. The deciding game went to San Diego as the Padres clinched the next round berth at home, defeating the Dodgers 5-3 and finishing the unthinkable—knocking out the Mickey Mouse Champions of 2020.

American League Championship Series 

Half of the ALCS had been decided on the same day as the other two, but a rain delay had caused a prolonged matchup for the other spot.

After the Seattle Mariners’ strong series against the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card Round, the Houston Astros dominated and were the only team this season to sweep a round in the Division Series.

The Astros won Game 1 8-7 with home runs from Yuli Gurriel, Alec Bregman and Yordan Alvarez. As far as Game 2, Alvarez made news again as he hit the go-ahead HR, giving his team a 2-0 lead and helping to defeat the Mariners 4-2.

The last game of the series was an uphill battle that lasted 18 innings. 18 pitchers and five pinch hitters were used between both teams before the lone run was scored by a home run from Jeremy Pena of the Astros in the top of the 18th inning.

The last spot is still up for grabs, as both the Cleveland Guardians and the New York Yankees move onto Game 5 of the ALDS.

The Bronx Bombers took the first game as Gerrit Cole struck out eight batters in 6.1 innings. The next game was postponed and picked up on Friday, Oct. 14 and Cleveland came out on top. The Guardians won the pitching duel, as Shane Bieber only allowed two runs in almost six innings, while “Nasty” Nestor Cortes Jr. gave up a home run, let up six hits, and walked three batters.

Game 3 was also won by the Guardians, as 24-year-old outfielder Oscar Gonzalez walked off during a three-run comeback against Wandy Peralta and Clarke Schmidt to win 2-1.

The Yankees took the next game in seesaw action, as they tied up the series with another 8-strikeout outing for Gerrit Cole. The final game of the series will take place on Monday when Aaron Civale takes the hill for Cleveland, and Jameson Taillon will start for New York. Baseball fans around the world will cheer for either the youngest rebuilding team in the MLB or the world-renowned winning franchise from the Bronx.

Update: Game 5 ended up taking place on Tuesday, October 18 due to another rain delay, allowing Cortes to take the mound for the Yankees. New York won 5-1 and is heading to the ALCS.

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