Joe Torre and Jim Tracy: a study in contrasts

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Joe Torre, Dodgers Manager:

If the Dodgers aren’t still sitting atop the National League West
one month from now, it won’t be the fault of the pitching, the offense
or even the defense. No matter what happens between now and then, if
the team isn’t in first place, go ahead and blame manager Joe Torre. He
won’t mind. Really.

With an 8 -game lead in the division heading into play Monday, as
well as the best record in baseball, the Dodgers are in good shape at
the start of June. And when July arrives, the roster will get a boost
with the return of Manny Ramirez. So Torre went ahead Monday and said
that if Ramirez doesn’t return to a first-place club, then the manager
should be blamed.

“I don’t know how many we’ll be ahead, but you’re right, if anything goes bad I screwed up, no question,” Torre said.

Jim Tracy, Rockies Manager:

One of the charges against Tracy in Pittsburgh was that he took too
much credit when the team won and blamed the players too much when the
Pirates lost. After the game Sunday, Tracy blamed his starter Jorge De
La Rosa for not pitching properly to Gonzalez when he had an 0-2 count,
allowing the Padres slugger to homer. Gonzalez wouldn’t have homered if
he were standing on first base . . .

. . . Tracy then blamed his pinch-hitter Smith for not hitting
properly when he had a 3-2 count. According to Tracy, the Rockies
cannot “do any hitting with the bat on their shoulder.”

All in all, I think the Dodgers are better off now than they were four years ago.

(links via BTF)

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

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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).