Tuesday's thoughts: Wedge's wacky lineups

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– I’ve believed all along that Ramon Castro was the most effective
catcher on the Mets’ roster. The scary thing is that he also might have
been the organization’s best option at first base after Carlos Delgado
went down. After another hitless game Tuesday, Daniel Murphy is down to
.234/.318/.347 for the season. Castro has never played first base, but
it’s not like Murphy is even living up to the low standards set by
Carlos Delgado on defense. It’s time to send Murphy down and try
Fernando Tatis as a stopgap at first.

– Maybe it is time to do something about Eric Wedge: Travis Hafner
was intentionally walked twice by Brewers right-handers while hitting
sixth ahead of Chris Gimenez, a rookie making his fourth major league
start. Hafner, who entered with a 934 OPS, ended up hitting a rather
meaningless two-run homer in the ninth. The guy batting ahead of him,
Ryan Garko, entered with a 668 OPS against right-handers this season.

– It was a rough night for Hanley Ramirez. He committed an error on
a routine grounder, and he allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to score from second
on an infield single when neither he nor Dan Uggla could knock down the
ball. Also, with the Red Sox up 8-2 with no outs in the sixth, he was
thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. He did hustle the
whole way, but it was an awful decision.

– The Giants offense couldn’t have much less impressive in Angels
starter Sean O’Sullivan’s major league debut. Sullivan did do a pretty
good job of keeping his 90-92 mph fastball low in the zone, plus he was
able to get ahead in the count with his curveball. Still, the Giants
showed very little interest in battling him. The lone walk he issued
came with two outs in the seventh, and he was able to complete seven
while throwing 98 pitches.

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).