What we're watching – May 29

Leave a comment

– After nine straight losses on the road, the Blue Jays finally return
home tonight. Unfortunately, they’ll be facing the Red Sox, who started
off Toronto’s losing streak with a three-game sweep at Fenway last
week. The winning pitcher in the first game of that series, Tim
Wakefield, will be back on the mound for this one. He allowed one run
over eight innings in his previous start against the Jays, and he’s 6-2
with a 3.99 ERA for the season, making him Boston’s most effective
pitcher so far. The Blue Jays will give Casey Janssen his second start
of the year. Janssen, making his way back from shoulder surgery,
allowed three runs over six innings in a loss to Atlanta six days ago.

– The surging Yankees will start a series tonight in Cleveland,
where the Indians just pulled off a four-game sweep of the Rays. Andy
Pettitte gets the nod for the Yankees against one of only two AL teams
he’s under .500 against in his career (Seattle being the other). The
Indians will go to Cliff Lee, who beat the Yankees on April 16 for one
of his two victories so far this season. Aside from that game, which
Cleveland won 10-2, the Indians have totaled 19 runs in Lee’s nine
starts.

Game of the Night

St. Louis vs. San Francisco – A pair of five-game winners will
square off in San Francisco, with Joel Pineiro going against Matt Cain.
Pineiro is inducing grounders at a league-best rate, but he’s lost four
of his last five starts anyway, partly due to poor run support. He has
a shutout and five other quality starts in nine trips to the mound this
season. Cain has won his last two outings and has seven quality starts
to his credit. However, he is 0-1 with a 9.58 ERA in two career starts
against the Cardinals. Albert Pujols has a homer and a double in five
career at-bats against him.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

Getty Images
17 Comments

There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).