Link-O-Rama: Geer giving up gopher balls

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* Some tidbits about Josh Geer’s homer-allowing binge:
He’s allowed at least one homer in 16 of 17 starts. He’s served up 27
homers in 102.2 innings, which works out to a rate of 2.4 homers per
nine innings that ranks as the fourth-highest in baseball history among pitchers with at least 100 innings.

For comparison, Mariano Rivera has allowed a grand total of 58 homers
in 1,066.1 career innings. Wait, there’s more. Take him away from
power-suppressing Petco Park and Geer has allowed an astounding 16
homers in 43 innings. He’s been invited to serve as “all-time pitcher”
for next year’s Home Run Debry. OK, I made that last one up.

* Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports
that Fausto Carmona will make at least one more start at Triple-A
before rejoining the Indians. Demoted all the way to rookie-ball on
June 5, Carmona has worked his way back up to Triple-A by posting a
2.72 ERA and 39/7 K/BB ratio in seven minor-league starts between three
levels.

* Pitching coach Rick Knapp gave the Tigers a scare
Sunday night when he passed out and briefly lost consciousness on the
team plane. An emergency landing and trip to the hospital followed, but
Knapp was released after a brief stay and was back at work yesterday.

* As a follow-up to my entry yesterday about Luke Hochevar’s back-to-back impressive starts putting him in some exclusive company, Clark Fosler of Royals Authority examines why Hochevar is suddenly pitching so well. The short answer? More sliders.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.