Who wants to manage the Astros?

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Houston’s decision to fire Cecil Cooper with 13 games remaining left Dave Clark with a two-week stint as interim manager and the assumption seems to be that he won’t be offered the full-time job. So who will the Astros tab as their next manager? Alyson Footer of MLB.com and Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle both tackled that subject this morning.
Footer separated potential candidates into three groups consisting of 14 total names: Clark, Jim Fregosi, Bobby Valentine, Manny Acta, Willie Randolph, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Brad Ausmus, Jim Deshaies, Phil Garner, Bill Ripken, Tim Bogar, Kirk Gibson, Tim Wallach.
Not included on Footer’s list is longtime Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, who discussed his possible interest in the job with Ortiz:

Earlier in my career I think I had a desire to manage more than I do now. I don’t think that you go into the job like that without making a really strong commitment. And usually it has to have some length to it. So my interest right now, you know I’ve been around a long time, and I don’t know whether I’d have the same desire to make that type of commitment than I might have in years past.

Clark is Houston’s fifth manager in the past nine seasons and the job awaiting skipper No. 6 is a tough one, because the Astros don’t have much in the way of MLB-ready impact prospects coming up through the farm system and are 10 games below .500 despite spending over $100 million on the oldest team in the league. Among the 27 players who’ve batted 100 times or pitched 25 innings for Houston this season, only Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Felipe Paulino, Bud Norris, Alberto Arias, and Wesley Wright are in their twenties.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.