Link-O-Rama: Choo sits on Korean Heritage Night

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* Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, on Eric Wedge’s odd lineup
last night: “Entering tonight, [Shin-Soo] Choo had started 91 of the
Indians’ 94 games this season. He hadn’t been out of the starting
lineup since way back on May 29. Tonight, the Rogers Centre is
celebrating Korean Heritage Night. Presumably, there will be quite a
few Koreans on-hand. If nothing else, there are a handful of Korean
media members here. No one told Wedge. Because, naturally, Choo has the
night off.” Choo, of course, is the most prominent Korean-born baseball
player in the world.

* Jason Schmidt wasn’t very impressive Monday night in his first start since 2007, but was apparently good enough to get another chance this weekend. I’ll set the over/under on runs allowed against the Marlins at 5 1/2.

* He’s only been with the team for a couple weeks, but this picture of Jeff Francoeur from last night’s game basically encapsulates the Mets’ entire season.

* Longtime major leaguer Kevin Mench won’t be back
with the Hanshin Tigers after hitting .148 and “dealing with fatigue
and anxiety issues” during his first (and perhaps last) season in
Japan.

* Daniel Monson of MLive.com sat down for an interview with all-time announcing great Ernie Harwell, who’s still going strong at the age of 91.

* Alyson Footer digs up some old photos
from a “wives gala” that the Astros held nearly 20 years ago, complete
with shots of Casey Candaele break dancing and lots of 1990s hair.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.