And That Happened: Monday's scores and recaps

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Braves 2, Cubs 0:
Javier Vazquez somehow managed to allow no runs despite giving up nine
hits and two walks in six and two-thirds. Behold! In these Cubs we have
found a team more feeble when it matters most than the Braves!

Rockies 11, Angels 1:
Aaron Cook now has the most wins in Rockies’ franchise history at 59,
which is pretty neat, actually. Colorado has now won 17 of 18.

Athletics 5, Giants 1:
I thought Jonathan Sanchez was supposed to be, like, good. He’s 2-9,
has lost four in a row and has an ERA of five and a half. Meanwhile,
Trevor Cahill hasn’t allowed more than three runs in an outing in over
a month.

Mets 6, Cardinals 4:
I know it’s great sport to make fun of announcers, and it’s even more
fun to try to out-funny one another when we do it. But when I say this,
please understand that there is no snark intended. There is no joke to
follow. I do not offer this as a means of piling on. Really, I am being
very, very serious, and I hope this is taken seriously by someone in a
position to do something about it: Rick Sutcliffe and Steve Phillips —
who were together on the same ESPN broadcast team for some reason —
are truly wretched and should not be allowed in a broadcast booth.

I am among the biggest baseball fans on the planet. I have devoted
thousands of hours over the past few years writing about it and
thousands more over the course of my life watching it. I am among those
who will watch baseball under almost any circumstances. Scandal.
National emergency. Family emergency. You name it, and I’m still
wondering when the game starts. Yet after only an inning or two of
listening to these men do their best to distract me from the game with
their pointless, showy commentary, I changed the channel. I watched a
nine year-old “Family Guy” rerun because I could not bear to listen to
these disgraces argue about how they’d pitch to Albert Pujols in such a
way as to actually interfere in an Albert Pujols at bat. I could not
bear to listen to them talk about the legacy of Donald Fehr with an
incoherence that was surprising, even for them. I could not stand the
cascading cliches, the super-hyped, super-throaty wannabe radio
announcer voices, and the seeming unwillingness to let a moment pass
without their voices drowning out the sounds of the ballpark and even,
on occasion, the play-by-play itself. And before you say “well, I guess
we won’t pair them up again,” know that they do it on their own
respective broadcasts too. If these men were next to you at the
ballpark or sitting on the next bar stool over going on like they do,
you’d yell at them to shut up, and if they didn’t, you’d ask them to be
shown the door.

ESPN, for all of your faults, you remain the premier venue of
broadcast sports. How, then, you allow Major League Baseball, one of
your most valuable properties, to be massacred so thoroughly by the
likes of Sutcliffe and Phillips I will never know. You are actively
driving fans way, ESPN. You are turning off an entire generation to a
product that should, by all rights, be bulletproof. Having Sutcliffe
and Phillips broadcasting baseball is the equivalent of giving away
water in the desert via infomercial. Why bother? People are begging for
your product, yet you seem to almost revel in assaulting them in order
to get it. The only possible explanation is sadism.

I know many people who work for ESPN. Every single one of them is
bright, amiable, and above all else, passionate about sports. How,
then, you allow guys like Sutcliffe and Phillips to sully their efforts
with their terrible, terrible work is beyond me.

ESPN: dare to give your sport, your viewers, and your employees the
respect they deserve. Remove Sutcliffe and Phillips from the booth.
Replace them with someone who understands that the game, and not their
own mindless prattle, is the product people turn in to see and hear.

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).