Eric Wedge: dead man walking

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It’s not a feeding frenzy yet, but blood is definitely in the water in Cleveland:

The fate of manager Eric Wedge is in the hands of owner Larry and
team president Paul Dolan. If they say he’s gone, he’s gone . . . When
asked if he was considering a change, Larry Dolan said, “I’ll talk to
you later.” When asked if that meant a change was being considered,
Dolan said, “I just don’t want to lie to you.”

Since then Paul Dolan said that nothing was imminent, and GM Mark
Shapiro says he thinks that Wedge should keep his job. As the article
says, though, it’s probably not Shapiro’s call.

I’m not one of those guys who thinks that firing a manager is
necessarily the best solution — in fact it rarely is — but I can’t
say I see any benefit to keeping Eric Wedge around. His defenders will
cite all of the injuries the Indians have suffered, but (a) they were
playing poorly right of the gate this season; and (b) even if they
weren’t, injuries are a fact of life in baseball that just have to be
overcome. Except Cleveland never overcomes them, and at some point
someone has to be held responsible for that. Maybe that’s Mark Shapiro
for not supplying the kind of depth an otherwise talented team needs in
order to work through this stuff. There’s an order in which these
things tend to proceed, however, and that usually involves the manager
getting axed first.

Not that we’d be talking epic unfairness if Wedge were to get
canned. He has has had seven years to make something work with this
team, and with one near-magical exception, it hasn’t worked. Better
managers than Eric Wedge have been let go after compiling shorter and
less disappointing records. When you add in the observation by the great Terry Pluto
that Wedge just looks lost and beat and demoralized these days, one
can’t help but think that a change would do both him and the Indians
some good.

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).