Who was wrong about the plans to fire Manny Acta?

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You may have noticed that, contrary to the reports that circulated last weekend,
Manny Acta still has a job. Clearly, then, those who reported his
imminent dismissal are eating crow today, right? Not on your life. Via D.C. Sports Bog, here’s Ken Rosenthal on his report:

“If my story was wrong, then the Nationals should simply say Manny
Acta is our manager for the rest of our season. If what I wrote was
indeed something that had no basis, as Mike Rizzo suggested, well, make
him your manager for the rest of the year. If the story is right,
however, and of course I believe it was, then the Nationals should fire
him today, tomorrow, whenever. Just leaving him dangling like this is
not fair to Manny, not fair really to the team itself. So what I’m
saying is, one way or the other, they need to make a decision.”

Rosenthal is saying he was right and, though he says he really doesn’t
know, thinks that the Nats held off on doing what they had planned to
do (i.e. fire Acta) because they didn’t want to appear as through they
were pressured by the media. Based on some of the Nats’ previous moves
and what people whisper about Nats’ ownership, I’m totally willing to
buy this. Except it wasn’t media pressure that set this all off. It was
someone in the Nats’ front office leaking their plans about Acta. I’m
not saying that the media hasn’t forced this kind of thing in the past,
but Ken Rosenthal breathes tips. He doesn’t go after managers for a
living, and I’m inclined to think that Rizzo’s statement that there was
“no basis” for this report is bunk.

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).