Astros Force ALCS Game 7 as Justin Verlander Dominates Yankees

The 2017 American League Championship Series will go the distance after Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros shut down the New York Yankees to capture a 7-1 win in Game 6 on Friday night at Minute Maid Field. 

While it wasn't quite a redux of his masterful nine-inning performance in Game 2, Verlander was brilliant with the Astros facing elimination. 

Over the course of seven scoreless innings, Verlander scattered five hits and registered eight strikeouts to baffle a group of Yankee hitters that had hit its stride back in the Bronx. 

Verlander threw 71 percent of his pitches for strikes, including a curveball to Todd Frazier that encapsulated the Yankees' struggles against the 2011 AL MVP: 

The Astros offense wasn't nearly as electric—its first hit of the night came with two out in the bottom of the fourth inning—but a jolt in the fifth inning produced a breakthrough against Luis Severino (4.2 IP, three strikeouts, three earned runs). 

Brian McCann got the party started with a double to deep right field to score Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve snapped an 0-for-12 slump three batters later when he laced a two-run single to left, as Fox Sports MLB documented: 

The Yankees threatened with two on and no out in the top of the seventh for their best opportunity of the night, but the opportunity proved fleeting. 

After Verlander got Aaron Hicks to strike out swinging, Todd Frazier smoked a fastball to deep center field that George Springer plucked out of the air: 

According to MLB.com's Andrew Simon, Statcast suggested Frazier hit his blast hard enough to leave most parks: 

Verlander worked out of the jam one batter later, at which point MLB Network's Jon Morosi relayed a key stat that underscored his dominance: 

The Yankees got on the board in the eighth when Aaron Judge mashed a solo home run off Brad Peacock, but Altuve countered with a jack of his own in the bottom half of the inning to restore order and fuel a hit parade that allowed the Astros to quell concerns of an implosion once and for all. 

Now headed for Game 7, the Astros will try to complete their comeback Saturday evening (8:08 p.m. ET, FS1) in Houston against Yankees starter CC Sabathia—who went six strong with five strikeouts in an 8-1 Game 3 win.      

The Astros, meanwhile, will roll with Game 3 starter Charlie Morton on normal rest as opposed to rushing Lance McCullers back out. 

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Joe Maddon Ejected from NLCS Game 4 for Arguing over Curtis Granderson Swing

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon was ejected from Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field for arguing with umpires over a swinging strike three from Curtis Granderson that was ruled a foul ball.               

With Granderson up in the top of the eighth inning, closer Wade Davis tossed what appeared to be a swinging strike three. However, umpires ruled Granderson grazed the ball. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder was afforded new life at the plate, but Davis struck him out on the next pitch and worked his way out of a two-on, two-out jam to keep the Cubs up 3-2.                                  

While there was ultimately no harm done, a base knock from Granderson could have sparked a Dodgers rally and incited a firestorm with the Cubs playing for their postseason lives down 0-3 in the series. 

However, the ejection did have historical implications for Maddon—who became the first manager in MLB history to get tossed from the same postseason series twice, according to Jacob Pomrenke of the Society for American Baseball Research. 

The umpires ejected Maddon in Game 1 of the NLCS when he argued Cubs catcher Willson Contreras hadn't blocked Charlie Culberson's path to home plate, contrary to the final ruling. 

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Masahiro Tanaka Dominates Astros to Give Yankees 3-2 ALCS Lead

The New York Yankees, improbable as it seemed four days ago, seized a 3-2 ALCS lead over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night with a 5-0 Game 5 win at Yankee Stadium. 

The Yankees have now scored 11 unanswered runs since falling behind 4-0 midway through Game 4 on Tuesday night.  

Game 4 evidently gave the Yankees a major confidence boost, because they looked aggressive and in the zone at the plate against Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, who had held them scoreless in two previous postseason appearances—including a dominant Game 1 outing. 

But on Wednesday, the Yankees were fearless in a way they previously hadn't been against the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner, with their bats coming alive early and often. 

Starlin Castro got the party started with a double in the bottom of the second inning, and a Greg Bird single pushed the Yankees second baseman across, as Fox Sports MLB documented: 

The next inning it was Aaron Judge's turn. He produced a double down the line to drive in Brett Gardner from first: 

The AL home run leader has now produced four extra-base hits over the last three games. 

Gary Sanchez—who also cranked a solo home runand Didi Gregorius each tacked on an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning, at which point Keuchel's night was over. 

The New York Post's Joel Sherman broke down just how uncharacteristic Keuchel's struggles were: 

The breakthrough against Keuchel was accompanied by another gem from Masahiro Tanaka, who tallied eight strikeouts over seven scoreless innings. 

Thanks to that effort, Tanakawho struck out seven over seven innings in Game 3 of the ALDSentered rare statistical air, according to ESPN Stats & Info: 

Now trailing 3-2, the Astros will attempt to stave off elimination and force a decisive Game 7 when Justin Verlander squares off against Luis Severino on Friday night. 

But in order to do so, the AL West champions will need to find consistent sources of offense—especially at the bottom of the order—to keep pace with a Yankee lineup that's hitting its stride with a World Series berth in sight. 

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Astros vs. Yankees: ALCS Game 5 TV Schedule, Ticket Info and Odds

The Houston Astros were nine outs away from pushing the New York Yankees to the brink of elimination Tuesday night, but a furious rally spearheaded by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez allowed the Bronx Bombers to tie the ALCS at two games apiece. 

Now surging with their confidence at an all-time high, the Yankees have a chance to capture an improbable 3-2 series lead and send the series back to Minute Maid Park with the Astros' World Series hopes hanging by a thread. 

But in order to do so, the Yankees will need to conquer Astros starter Dallas Keuchel—who silenced New York's bats in a 2-1 Game 1 win. 

With Game 5 fast approaching, here's a rundown of when and where you can catch all the action from Yankee Stadium. 

Date: Wednesday, Oct. 18

TV: FS1

Time: 5:08 p.m. ET

Tickets: StubHub

Odds (via OddsShark): HOU -1.5

          

Preview

The Yankees boasted the AL's top home record (51-30) during the regular season, and they've continued to dominate in the Bronx to this point in the postseason. 

Specifically, New York is 5-0 following Tuesday's come-from-behind effort. As ESPN noted, that mark could have significant implications if the past is any indication: 

But in order to contend for their first World Series title since 2009, the Yankees will have to conquer Keuchel on Wednesday. 

That's not going to be easy based on what Keuchel flashed in Game 1.  

In the series-opening tilt, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner leaned heavily on his fastball and filthy slider to consistently stifle New York hitters en route to 10 strikeouts, zero earned runs and four hits over seven innings.  

"Through the course of the game, pitch to pitch, at-bat to at-bat, it seemed like there was no need to change up what was working," Keuchel said Tuesday, per the Houston Chronicle's Jake Kaplan. "And I'm a big stickler if I can go with plan A and they don't make adjustments or I don't need to make adjustments, then I'm not going to show plan B.

If Keuchel does need to shake things up in Game 5, his changeup will likely come into play against a Yankee lineup that has scorched the Astros for 14 runs the past two nights. 

Houston, meanwhile, will be looking for an offensive awakening. 

After mustering two runs apiece in the series' first two games, the Astros have managed five runs over their past two losses against a Yankees offense that has found new life at home. 

Next up will be a second showdown with Masahiro Tanaka, who has been quite sharp to this point in the postseason. 

Through two starts, Tanaka has registered 10 strikeouts and scattered seven hits over 13.0 innings. In his last outing, which came in Game 1 of the ALCS, the pinstriped ace went six strong and allowed two earned runs while inducing 12 ground balls and registering three punchouts

If Tanaka can produce a similar performance in concert with New York's continued breakout at the plate, the Yankees should be in position to pull off a stunner when the series shifts back to Texas. 

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Brad Ausmus Reportedly Drawing ‘Serious Interest’ from Mets for Manager Vacancy

The New York Mets reportedly have "serious interest" in former Detroit Tigers skipper Brad Ausmus to serve as their new manager, according to The Athletic's Peter Gammons

Gammons added that the Mets think Ausmus could be inclined to step away from the bench for a year to mull over his options. 

The Tigers opted not to retain Ausmus at the end of the 2017 season after the team stumbled to a 64-98 record. Over four years in Detroit, Ausmus compiled a 314-332 record, good for a .486 winning percentage.

According to the New York Post's Mike Puma, the Mets plan to consider former Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura, Joe McEwing, Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora, hitting coach Kevin Long, Los Angeles Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren and former third base coach Chip Hale for the position. 

A source also told Puma that Sandy Alomar Jr., who played for the team in 2007, "is under strong consideration to be interviewed" for the vacant gig. 

The Mets opened their managerial search at the end of the 2017 season after opting not to bring back Terry Collins—who has since assumed a front-office role as the team turns its attention to finding a boss who can lead the franchise back into the postseason conversation following a 70-92 finish in 2017. 

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Cubs vs. Dodgers: NLCS Game 1 Live-Stream Schedule, Ticket Info and Pick

For the second straight season, the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers will meet in the National League Championship Series.

But this time around, Los Angeles will be the favorite, as the series gets ready to begin in Hollywood with a pair of showdowns at Dodger Stadium.

Seeking revenge and their first trip to the World Series since 1988, the Dodgers will attempt to make a statement Saturday evening when things get underway.

Here's a rundown of when and where you can catch the action.

Date: Saturday, Oct. 14

Time: 8:08 p.m. ET

TV: TBS

Live Stream: MLB.tv

Tickets: StubHub

          

Game 1 Preview

The buzzword for Game 1 of the NLCS will be rest. The Dodgers have had plenty of it, while the Cubs have had virtually none after flying cross-country following their Game 5 win over the Washington Nationals on Thursday evening.

Thanks to their tidy sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers have been off since Monday. Perhaps more importantly, Game 1 starter Clayton Kershaw hasn't pitched since Oct. 6, meaning he will have had a more than a week's worth of rest when he takes the bump Saturday evening at Dodger Stadium.

The question, though, is whether Kershaw will be able to tame the Cubs' big bats and avoid surrendering long balls.

For starters, Kershaw posted a career-worst home run-to-fly ball ratio of 15.9 percent this season, according to FanGraphs. Then, in Game 1 of the NLDS, Kershaw allowed four more crush jobs at the hands of the Diamondbacks, including two in the seventh inning that trimmed the Dodgers' advantage to three.

Looking ahead, manager Dave Roberts doesn't sound particularly concerned about his ace thanks in part to a bullpen that finished the regular season ranked first in the NL with a 3.38 ERA and 637 strikeouts.

"No one wants it more than he does, and no one is going to compete more," Roberts said, according to the Los Angeles Times' Andy McCullough. "But I think to have the guys in the 'pen, who I feel very confident in going to, lends itself to not pushing him."

For the Cubs, the key will be silencing the Dodger bats to the point their bullpen doesn't need to do more heavy lifting following a grueling Game 5 against the Nationals that saw six different pitchers enter in relief behind Kyle Hendricks.

That's a tall task considering the Dodgers are coming off a three-game set against the Diamondbacks in which they racked up 31 hits and a .298 average. By comparison, the Cubs recorded 27 hits in five games against the Nationals.

Chicago should give Los Angeles a fight once it settles in, but the NL West champions should have the upper hand in the series' opening tilt.

Prediction: Dodgers 6, Cubs 3

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Jose Altuve Says He’d Vote for Aaron Judge to Win AL MVP

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve told reporters Friday that if he had a vote for American League MVP, he would cast it for New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge. 

"Probably him—Judge. Yeah," Altuve said, according to ESPN.com's Scott Lauber. "Because he hit a lot of homers, a lot of RBI, he got on base a lot, and I like the way he plays. If I was a general manager, I want him on my team, because he plays the right way, and he's very humble."

Altuve added that Judge is deserving because of his well-rounded efforts. 

"He hits the ball way farther than anybody in the big leagues, all his homers," he said. "He plays good defense. He did everything to win the MVP in the regular season. But what I like the most about him is how humble he is."

Judge stitched together an unprecedented rookie season from a power perspective, as he shattered Mark McGwire's previous record and smashed an AL-best 52 home runs to go with 114 RBI. 

However, Judge also recorded a league-worst 208 strikeouts and was noticeably less efficient over the second half of the season. 

Despite surging in September with 15 home runs and 32 RBI, Judge slashed .228/.391/.548 after the All-Star break compared to a line of .329/.448/.691 prior to the Midsummer Classic. 

In the field, Judge was good for nine defensive runs saved and a UZR of 6.1, according to FanGraphs

Altuve, meanwhile, was the most consistent player in baseball this season. 

Appearing in 153 games, the five-time All-Star batted an MLB-best .346, tied his career high with 24 home runs and drove in 81 runs. He also recorded 32 stolen bases and struck out just 84 times while registering a career-high slugging percentage of .957. 

The 27-year-old's fielding measures (three defensive runs saved, -1.9 UZR) weren't as impressive, but he made up for it with steadier brilliance at the plate for the American League West champions. 

Now up 1-0 over the Yankees in the ALCS following Friday night's 2-1 win, the Astros will hope Altuve can replicate his 3-for-4 Game 1 showing Saturday as Houston eyes a 2-0 lead and its first AL pennant since 2005. 

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Dallas Keuchel’s Dominant Performance Gives Astros 1-0 ALCS Lead over Yankees

The Houston Astros defeated the New York Yankees 2-1 in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night at Minute Maid Park behind a gem from starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel

In seven scoreless innings, Keuchel scattered four hits and struck out 10 before closer Ken Giles, who came on for five outs, surrendered a towering solo blast to Greg Bird in the top of the ninth inning.

According to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, Keuchel joined Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott as the only pitchers in franchise history to tally at least 10 punchouts in a postseason game.          

It was more of the same for the southpaw, who has owned the Yankees since his major league debut in 2012. Specifically, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner entered Friday's showdown 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA and 45 strikeouts and six walks in 44.2 regular-season innings against the Bronx Bombers. 

MLB.com's Andrew Simon noted Keuchel's slider was particularly nasty in the opening tilt:  

With Keuchel in complete control, the Astros didn't need much run support to feel comfortable about their chances. That was good because Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka was rather sharp in his own right. 

Over six innings, Tanaka allowed four hits and recorded three strikeouts. 

However, the right-hander encountered trouble in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jose Altuve (3-for-4) followed an infield single by stealing second base, which opened the door for Carlos Correa to drive him home with a base knock through the left side, as Fox Sports MLB documented: 

Two batters later, Yuli Gurriel followed Correa's lead and pushed the shortstop across the plate to give Houston a 2-0 lead. 

The Yankees had a chance to counter when they had two runners on with no outs in the fifth inning, but left fielder Marwin Gonzalez denied Bird's attempt to scurry home off an Aaron Judge single with a laser, via MLB on Twitter: 

New York put two on again in the top of the eighth inning, which set the stage for Didi Gregorius to play hero once more. But unlike Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians, the pinstriped shortstop was denied as Giles set him down swinging to squash the threat. 

The Yankees crept closer in the ninth thanks to Bird's moonshot, but the rally stopped there. 

The Baby Bombers will now turn their attention to Saturday's Game 2 (4:08 p.m. ET, Fox) in hopes of knotting the series at one win apiece before the scene shifts to the Bronx for Game 3 on Monday. 

But in order to do so, the Yankees will need their bats to come alive against Justin Verlander and hope starter Luis Severino avoids the form that hounded him in his disastrous wild-card outing against the Minnesota Twins. 

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Didi Gregorius Leads Yankees to Game 5 Win vs. Indians; Will Face Astros in ALCS

The New York Yankees became the 10th team in Major League Baseball history to erase a 0-2 series deficit in a best-of-five format with a 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Wednesday at Progressive Field in Cleveland. 

Shortstop Didi Gregorius—who had one hit in the series' first four gamesspearheaded the Bronx Bombers' victorious effort with a pair of home runs off Indians starter Corey Kluber, including a two-run crush job in the third inning. 

The Indians had a glimmer of hope trailing 3-2 entering the ninth inning, but Brett Gardner capped off an epic 12-pitch at-bat against Cody Allen with a base hit to right field that scored two thanks to a throwing error by Jay Bruce.  

        

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game.      

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Cubs-Nationals NLDS Game 4 Postponed Due to Inclement Weather

Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that Game 4 of the National League Division Series between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals has been postponed until Wednesday due to inclement weather, according to the Washington Post's Jorge Castillo.   

The game, which was initially scheduled to get underway from Wrigley Field at 5:38 p.m. ET Tuesday, will now begin at 4:08 p.m. ET Wednesday. The Cubs hold a 2-1 series lead. 

Pushing Game 4 back a day gave the Nationals a chance to start Stephen Strasburg—who dazzled in Game 1 —but manager Dusty Baker told reporters early Tuesday evening Tanner Roark will still take the mound as scheduled Wednesday. 

In his only career postseason start, which came in the 2016 NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Roark allowed two runs, seven hits and three walks over 4.1 innings. 

According to MASN's Mark Zuckerman, Baker said Strasburg is feeling "under the weather." However, he maintained Strasburg would start Game 5 if the Nationals win Wednesday. 

The Cubs, meanwhile, will stick with Jake Arrieta instead of handing the ball to Game 1 hero Kyle Hendricks, according to the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin

Arrieta has yet to pitch in the 2017 postseason due to hamstring issues, and he will undoubtedly be eager to wash away his September woes with a spot in the NLCS on the line. In three starts last month, Arrieta allowed seven earned runs, 15 hits and five home runs over 10.1 innings. 

But if the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner's production during last season's triumphant World Series run (2-1, 3.63 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 25 strikeouts, seven walks) was any indication, he should give the Cubs a strong chance to close out the Nationals in front of the Wrigley faithful.        

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Dodgers Take 2-0 NLDS Lead over Diamondbacks Behind 12 Hits

The Los Angeles Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the National League Division Series on Saturday night with an 8-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium that was fueled by contributions from across the order.

One day after Justin Turner, Corey Seager and Yasiel Puig combined for all nine RBI in Game 1, the Dodgers had seven different players record a hit and four drive in at least one run.

Puig was at the forefront of that group Saturday as he went 3-for-4 with two RBI, including a bases-loading single in the fourth inning that was accompanied by a trademark bat flip, as TBS documented on Twitter:

That base knock set the tone for the fifth inning, when the Dodgers used four straight hits—including an RBI single from Puig, as shown by Fox Sports MLB—to plate four runs and take a 7-2 lead:

Thanks to that outburst, the Dodgers were able to register seven unanswered runs after Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt opened the game with a towering two-run home run off Rich Hill in the first inning:

However, Hill settled down nicely and allowed just three hits while striking out four in four strong innings.

The Diamondbacks countered with Robbie Ray, and that figured to be trouble for L.A. since the southpaw went 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA against the Dodgers this year.

But on a night when he struggled with his command, Ray allowed four hits, four earned runs and four walks while striking out six over 4.1 innings.

ESPN Stats & Info and Dave Burns of Arizona Sports 98.7 put Ray's uncharacteristically shaky outing into perspective from a variety of angles:

The Diamondbacks countered with a three-run blast from Brandon Drury to cut the deficit to 7-5 in the seventh inning, but Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen came in for the final five outs and silenced Arizona's bats.

Now one win away from clinching consecutive trips to the NLCS, the Dodgers will hand the ball to Yu Darvish in Game 3 Monday evening at Chase Field.

The Diamondbacks, seeking to keep their season alive, will turn back to Zack Greinke after he allowed four earned runs over 3.2 innings in Wednesday's 11-8 wild-card win over the Colorado Rockies.

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Aroldis Chapman Says He Accidentally Liked Post Calling Joe Girardi ‘Imbecile’

New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman reportedly apologized to Joe Girardi on Saturday after his Instagram account liked a photo that called the manager an "imbecile" following the team's 9-8, 13-inning Game 2 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

Citing a Yankees official, Newsday's Anthony Rieber said Chapman went into Girardi's office to apologize for the social media slip-up.

The official also told Rieber that Chapman was unaware he had liked the post, which can be seen below, courtesy of Sports Illustrated:

"Aroldis let Joe know that's not the type of person or player or teammate he is," the official said, per Rieber.

In the bottom of the sixth inning Friday night, Indians pinch hitter Lonnie Chisenhall was at the plate with two outs.

On an 0-2 count, home plate umpire Dan Iassogna ruled a pitch by reliever Chad Green hit Chisenhall. However, on replay, it appeared as though the pitch deflected off the knob of Chisenhall's bat and into the glove of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, which should have meant an inning-ending strikeout.

Girardi opted not to challenge the play and later cited the effect it could have had on Green's rhythm, according to ESPN.com's Andrew Marchand.

On Saturday, Girardi acknowledged he made a mistake.

"I take responsibility for everything, and I feel horrible about it," he said, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "I screwed up. It's hard. It's a hard day for me. But I've got to move forward, and we'll be ready to go tomorrow."

The Yankees, who led the game 8-3 after five innings, are in a 0-2 series hole and will attempt to save their season Sunday night in the Bronx.

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Jose Altuve’s 3-HR Game Gives Astros 1-0 2017 ALDS Lead vs. Red Sox

Jose Altuve smashed three home runs and propelled the Houston Astros to an 8-2 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday in Game 1 of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park. 

By virtue of his home run hat trick, Altuve became the ninth player in MLB history to smack a trio of jacks in a postseason game, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart

Thanks in part to Altuve, the Astros wielded Major League Baseball's most prolific offense during the regular season. And in Game 1, they didn't waste any time putting it to good use. 

Alex Bregman and Altuve went back-to-back off Red Sox starter Chris Sale in the first inning, and that was just the start of a rude awakening for the AL Cy Young Award candidate in his first career postseason start. 

After left fielder Marwin Gonzalez ripped a two-run double in the bottom of the fourth to break a 2-2 deadlock, Altuve stepped to the plate in the fifth and delivered his second crush job, as MLB Network documented on Twitter: 

At that point, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan noted Sale simply hasn't been all that sharp of late: 

By the time his day was over, Sale had allowed six earned runs and nine hits, including six of the extra-base variety, while striking out six over five innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it marked the second time in 181 career starts that Sale gave up six extra-base hits. 

The Astros tacked on two runs in the sixth thanks to a two-run single from catcher Brian McCann, which was more than enough cushion for a pitching staff that was generally sharp. 

Starter Justin Verlander spearheaded the effort in his first postseason appearance since 2014 and scattered six hits over six innings while allowing just two earned runs. 

According to Bleacher Report's Zachary D. Rymer, that kind of sterling outing was nothing new for Verlander: 

Verlander's performance afforded the bullpen a five-run edge entering the seventh, which proved to be all the breathing room the home team needed. 

Now in possession of a 1-0 series lead, the Astros will attempt to double their advantage Friday when they hand the ball over to 2015 Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel. 

The Red Sox will counter with Drew Pomeranz, who won a career-high 17 games and posted a 3.32 ERA during the regular season. 

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Diamondbacks Beat Rockies in Dramatic NL Wild Card Game Behind 4 Triples

It started with a bang, and there were plenty of whimpers along the way. But the Arizona Diamondbacks outlasted the Colorado Rockies by cranking out four triples and a pair of home runs in an 11-8 National League Wild Card Game win Wednesday night at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Although the Diamondbacks appeared destined to run away with things after mounting a 6-0 lead through three innings, the Rockies remained resilient and scored five unanswered runs, including four in the fourth, to bring an improbable comeback into view.

And that was tame compared to what unfolded down the stretch.

After the Rockies narrowed the deficit to 6-5, Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley responded with a stunning gap-splitting triple that plated two runs and gave Arizona some crucial cushion in the bottom of the seventh. According to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, the triple was the first in MLB postseason history by a relief pitcher.

However, Bradley's turn as hero proved short-lived.

The 25-year-old promptly surrendered back-to-back solo home runs in the eighth inning to Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, and those blasts briefly revived Colorado's dreams of a stunner as it trimmed Arizona's edge to a single run for a second time.

But thanks to a three-run response in the bottom of the eighth that was facilitated by a two-RBI triple from center fielder A.J. Pollock and a bunt single courtesy of catcher Jeff Mathis, the Diamondbacks put things on ice and put the nervy affair out of reach.

Sportsnet Stats on Twitter noted Pollock's three-bagger put the Diamondbacks in elite postseason company: 

As the back-and-forth finish proved, chaos reigned supreme in the desertand it came in several forms.

The Rockies could attest to that in the first inning, when starter Jon Gray was shelled to the tune of five hits, including a three-run home run off the bat of Paul Goldschmidt that snapped the first baseman's 0-for-17 slump.

Gray's struggles with command continued into the second inning, and he was ultimately pulled 1.1 innings into his first postseason appearance.

Diamondbacks starter Zack Greinke flashed more poise early, but the wheels fell off in the fourth inning when the Rockies posted a four-spot to draw within two, 6-4.

Manager Torey Lovullo proceeded to pull Greinke following 3.2 innings. Needless to say, the length of Greinke's outing came as something of a shock considering all 32 of his regular-season starts spanned at least four innings.

Passan noted starting pitching issues permeated both wild-card contests after Luis Severino and Ervin Santana floundered in Tuesday night's showdown at Yankee Stadium:

Looking ahead, the move to sit Greinke could have significant implications.

Because Greinke wasn't able to last five or six innings, Lovullo pivoted to presumed Game 1 National League Division Series starter Robbie Ray to settle things down.

Ray did his job, striking out three while allowing one earned run in 2.1 innings, but he tossed 34 pitches and could be a tough sell for the starting gig Friday evening against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

However, that's a problem Arizona will be happy to deal with.

Now headed to Hollywood for a couple of games, the Diamondbacks will set their sights on the division-champion Dodgers as they eye their first trip to the NLCS since 2007.

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MLB Playoffs 2017: Updated Odds, Predictions for NL Wild Card, ALDS Matchups

If the New York Yankees' 8-4 wild-card win over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night was any indication, the MLB postseason should be a thrilling affair. 

And with another wild-card game on deck Wednesday evening in the National League, fans won't have to wait long to watch more drama unfold. 

So, as the pennant push intensifies, here's a preview of Wednesday's showdown as well as both American League Division Series matchups

           

Full postseason schedule available at MLB.comOdds current as of Tuesday, Oct. 3

          

NL Wild Card: Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks 

Date: Wednesday, Oct. 4

Time: 8:08 p.m. ET

TV: TBS

Odds (via OddsShark): Colorado (+153); Arizona (-163) 

 

It will be Jon Gray against Zack Greinke on Wednesday night in the desert, which means runs should be at a premium with a spot in the National League Division Series on the line. 

The Rockies went 2-1 in Gray's starts against the Diamondbacks this year—with both wins coming at Chase Field—and the 25-year-old has been humming of late with 80 strikeouts and 16 walks over his past 13 games. 

"Jon's in a good spot because he is throwing the ball well," manager Bud Black said, according to the Denver Post's Patrick Saunders. "When you are confident in how you are playing, that always lends itself to feeling good about where you are."

The Diamondbacks will counter with Greinke, who is 2-1 in five starts against Colorado in 2017. Furthermore, each of those five outings lasted at least six innings. 

But, unlike Gray, Greinke has been a tad shaky of late with a 1-1 record and 5.63 ERA in his last three trips to the mound. 

However, there's not much reason for the Diamondbacks to fret considering Greinke—who finished fifth in the NL with 215 strikeouts—posted a sterling 13-1 record with a 2.87 ERA at home this season. 

Arizona will have its hands full at the plate, especially if Paul Goldschmidt continues his slump against Gray, but the bet here is that he'll come up with a clutch hit when the Diamondbacks need it most to set up a tilt with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  

Prediction: Diamondbacks 4, Rockies 3

            

ALDSBoston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros

Start Date: Thursday, Oct. 5

Game 1 Start Time: 4:08 p.m. ET

Game 1 TV: MLB Network

Series Odds (via OddsShark): Boston (+135); Houston (-165)

 

There's certainly a compelling case to be made for the Boston Red Sox. 

They have an American League Cy Young Award candidate in Chris Sale who led the league with 308 strikeouts and 2.45 FIP, according to Baseball-Reference.com. Projected Game 2 starter Drew Pomeranz was stout in his own right with a 3.32 ERA en route to 17 wins.

Factor in a bullpen that ranked second in MLB with a 3.15 ERA and now boasts a rejuvenated David Price, and there's reason to believe Boston could stun the AL West champions. 

However, Houston is well-equipped to combat Boston's stable of seasoned arms. 

For starters, the Astros led MLB in batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging percentage (.478), which allowed them to plate a league-high 896 runs—a mark that dwarfed Boston's total of 785. 

That's scary enough. 

But also consider the Astros tout a revamped starting rotation featuring Justin Verlander alongside Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton, and a Boston lineup that collectively hit .258 this season could have trouble keeping pace. 

The Red Sox may very well nab a pair of wins along the way and push Houston in a competitive series, but the Astros' offensive firepower should ultimately give them the edge. 

Prediction: Astros over Red Sox in five

             

ALDS: New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians

Start Date: Thursday, Oct. 5

Game 1 Start Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Game 1 TV: FS1 

Series OddsOddsShark will update as they become available

 

It turns out the Baby Bombers can pack quite a punch.

That much was clear Tuesday night, when the Yankees erased a 3-0 first-inning deficit in a matter of minutes and tallied nine hits, including three home runs, to down the Twins and punch their ticket to the ALDS

Tuesday also reinforced that the Yankees bullpen, spearheaded by Chad Green, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman, can be a nightmare for opponents. 

However, the Yankees still have major question marks when it comes to a starting rotation that will be attempting to stymie an Indians lineup that ranked third in the AL in runs (818), second in batting average (.263) and second in OPS (.788). 

Luis Severino proved problematic in his first postseason start, lasting 0.1 innings and allowing three earned runs before he was pulled in favor of the less jittery Green. 

Then there's Masahiro Tanaka, whose lone postseason start to date came in the Yankees' 2015 wild-card loss to the Astros. Tanaka also recorded a 4.99 ERA in September while allowing 17 earned runs. Needless to say, those marks don't bode well for his postseason prospects against a stout Indians lineup. 

The onus, then, may be on Sonny Gray and CC Sabathia to give the Yankees a shot. 

Not only was Sabathia 7-2 with a 3.57 ERA after the All-Star break, but his last five decisions dating back to Aug. 19 have been wins. 

Gray has been solid as well with a 3.12 ERA since the Midsummer Classic, and his 12 strikeouts in 13 innings during the 2013 ALDS against the Detroit Tigers should inspire some confidence.  

That said, even if a couple of starters step up, the Yankees still figure to be overmatched. 

The Indians led MLB with a 3.30 ERA this year, and facing Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber in Games 1 and 2 could spell major trouble for a team that played sub-.500 ball on the road during the regular season. 

Assuming Cleveland can tame the Yankees bats at Progressive Field, a second straight trip to the ALCS should be in order. 

Prediction: Indians over Yankees in four

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Aaron Judge Breaks Babe Ruth’s Yankees Record for Most HRs at Home in a Season

New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge made history Saturday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays when he hit his 52nd home run of the season and 33rd at Yankee Stadium.

According to Newsday's Laura Albanese, Judge passed Babe Ruth to set the single-season franchise home record. ESPN Stats & Info noted Ruth's mark was established in 1921, when the Yankees played at the Polo Grounds.

Fox Sports MLB relayed video of the record-setting solo blast, which traveled 484 feet, according to the New York Daily News' Mike Mazzeo.

Statcast noted where Judge's dinger ranked relative to all other home runs in 2017:

After slumping to the tune of a .185/.353/.326 slash line with 41 strikeouts in 116 plate appearances in August, Judge has put together a September to remember.

For starters, he broke Mark McGwire's MLB rookie home run record Monday with a two-home run outing against the Kansas City Royals to reach the half-century mark.

Then came Saturday's fourth-inning swing, which propelled Judge to 15 home runs and 32 RBI in September alone.

The Yankees will hope the 25-year-old can keep those scalding stylings alive come October, when they'll seek their first trip to the American League Championship Series since 2012.

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Ichiro Suzuki Says He Wants to Play Until ‘At Least 50’ and Return to Marlins

Ichiro Suzuki reiterated Friday that he would like to play in MLB through his 50th birthday.

According to ESPN.com, the 43-year-old told reporters he has his sights set on playing to "at least 50" and that he would prefer to return to the Miami Marlins next season.

It's the same sentiment Ichiro expressed in March.

"I'm not joking when I say it," he said then, according to the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer.

    

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Derek Jeter Reportedly Fires 4 Marlins Front Office Executives

Derek Jeter is wasting no time cleaning house after MLB owners approved the sale of the Miami Marlins from Jeffrey Loria to a group spearheaded by the former New York Yankees shortstop and businessman Bruce Sherman. 

According to the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson, Jeter—who will officially operate as CEO and co-owner—asked Marlins president David Samson, who is also departing, to fire vice president of player development Marc DelPiano, assistant general manager Mike Berger, vice president/player personnel Jeff McAvoy and vice president/pitching development Jim Benedict this week. 

The report comes a week after Jackson and Clark Spencer reported Jeter had asked Samson to fire five special assistants to management. Chief among those dismissed were Jack McKeon, who led the franchise to a World Series title in 2003, Hall of Famer Andre Dawson and two-time All-Star Jeff Conine. 

"Sure, I'm sad," McKeon said at the time. "No question you're sad. I'm disappointed, but you understand. A new regime is coming in, and they want their new people in there. You can't fault them with that."

As far as future moves are concerned, Jackson reported Friday that it is "widely expected by members of the organization" that Jeter will retain manager Don Mattingly, who is under contract through 2019. 

"Part of my thought about coming to Miami was to build," Mattingly said Thursday, per the Sun Sentinel's Craig Davis. "I came with the thought of basically building, and building something that's sustainable.

"The one thing I do know from Derek's standpoint is he's a guy that's going to come here and he's going to want to win. And he'll have a vision, I think, for the long range where he wants to build the organization where it's not just a chance to win one year."

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Terry Collins Reportedly Not Fired by Mets Due to Fred Wilpon’s Support

Throughout the 2017 season, New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon reportedly spurned requests from high-ranking front office personnel to fire manager Terry Collins. 

According to Newsday's Marc Carig, Wilpon was able to "single-handedly shield Collins" from receiving a pink slip after general manager Sandy Alderson and Wilpon's son, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, advocated for a change in leadership. 

That desire was reportedly borne out of "organizational dysfunction, discord between Collins and his players, and a broken relationship between the manager and the front office," per Carig. 

Collins, 68, is not expected back with the Mets once his contract expires at season's end. 

According to the New York Post's Mike Puma, the Mets are "ready to move in a different direction" after discord emerged in the front office regarding Collins' tactical decision-making during a year plagued by injuries and inconsistencies. 

Carig added Thursday that tension cropped up throughout the season because Collins "resisted input" and had "communication issues." 

Citing sources, Puma reported the Mets are expected to consider hitting coach Kevin Long, Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora, Los Angeles Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren and former Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura, among others, as Collins' replacement. 

The Mets, who are 69-90, will wrap up their season with a three-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies starting Friday. Collins is 550-581 over seven seasons in New York, with two playoff appearances and one National League pennant to his credit.

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Bryce Harper Activated from DL by Nationals After Knee Injury

The Washington Nationals' pennant push received a major boost Tuesday when they activated right fielder Bryce Harper from the disabled list, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post

Activating Harper comes before the Nationals play the Philadelphia Phillies in the second game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park. 

Harper was initially placed on the 10-day disabled list Aug. 13 after he suffered what the team termed a "significant bone bruise" in his left knee after he slipped on first base trying to beat out a throw against the San Francisco Giants. He was also diagnosed with a left calf strain. 

Now healthy, Harper should return to his familiar post in right field and continue to operate as a tone-setter for the Nationals at the plate and on the field as Washington eyes its first trip to the World Series. 

Prior to hitting the shelf, the 2015 National League MVP slashed .326/.419/.614 with 29 home runs, 87 RBI and a league-high 1.034 OPS. 

Harper's wRC+ (weighted runs created) also ranks tops among all NL right fielders at 163—a mark superior to Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton (156). 

As those numbers indicate, Harper is the kind of singular talent whose production can propel the Nationals to new postseason heights. 

And considering Washington has been dispatched from the playoffs in the division series each of its past three trips, the pressure will be on Harper and the Nationals to exorcise their demons once and for all. 

By being activated now, the Nationals ensure Harper will be able to get at-bats over their final six regular-season games with the hope he's back at full strength when the National League Division Series begins on Oct. 6. 

Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com

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