What we're watching: Kawakami vs. Johnson

Leave a comment

– Tim Hudson versus Josh Johnson would have been tonight’s premier matchup, but the Braves have pushed Hudson back and opted to go with Kenshin Kawakami instead. Kawakami has lost both of his starts against the Marlins this season, amassing an 8.44 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. The last loss was in a matchup against Johnson on July 29. Including that win, Johnson is 6-1 in his last eight starts. His ERA, though, did creep over 3.00 for the first time all year when he gave up three runs in six innings against the Mets last week.
– Rich Harden reportedly will stick with the Cubs and face Roy Oswalt and the Astros tonight. With his 1.80 ERA and even more impressive 0.82 WHIP since the break, Harden has been one of the NL’s best pitchers lately. Oswalt is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in four starts since returning from a back injury. The last two starts, though, were much better than the first two. The Cubs are the one NL Central team that Oswalt isn’t over .500 against in his career. He’s 12-12 with a 3.86 ERA against them.
Game of the Night
Chicago vs. Minnesota – One of the AL Central rivals will make up some ground on Detroit tonight after the Tigers lost their afternoon game against the Rays. Gavin Floyd will start for the skidding White Sox, who have lost seven of their last eight games. He’s 7-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 16 starts since the beginning of June. Twins starter Nick Blackburn, on the other hand, has gotten a whole lot worse as the season has progressed. He entered the All-Star break at 8-4 with a 3.06 ERA, yet is 0-5 with an 8.22 ERA since. He’s gone 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in his three starts against the White Sox this year, but all of those came in the first half.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

Getty Images
4 Comments

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).