Role reversal: Broxton blows game as Phillies pen thrives

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Jonathan Broxton was untouchable in Los Angeles this season, allowing just 14 hits and no homers in 45 innings. The .095 average against and 73/9 K/BB ratio allowed him to convert 18 of 19 save chances.
Elsewhere, it was a different story. Broxton was still throwing 98 mph, but he allowed 30 hits and 20 walks in 31 innings in road games. He amassed a 5.81 ERA and blew five saves.
The road woes bit him again in a big way Monday, as he walked Matt Stairs, hit Carlos Ruiz and then allowed a game-winning two-run double to Jimmy Rollins in the ninth inning, giving the Phillies a 5-4 win in Game 4 of the NLCS and a commanding 3-1 series lead.
It looked like the Dodgers had a great chance to tie the series up when George Sherrill struck out Ryan Howard with two on in the eighth. Broxton came in then and retired Jayson Werth to end the frame and maintain the team’s one-run lead.
Broxton, though, couldn’t keep it going after a quick groundout from Raul Ibanez to start the ninth. Rest wasn’t an issue, as Broxton hadn’t pitched in three days. He just started missing with his fastball. Stairs worked his walk on only four pitches. Ruiz became just the second batter hit by the right-hander all season. Versus Rollins, he left a fastball right over the heart of the plate. Broxton’s mistakes aren’t punished all that often because of his velocity and movement, but Rollins got all of this one and it was obvious before the ball even landed that Ruiz would score from first.
Overlooked from the game will be the fine work from Philly’s pen, as Chan Ho Park, Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre and Brad Lidge combined to pitch three scoreless innings. Lidge came on after Rafael Furcal singled with one out in the top of the ninth and struck out Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in succession. It won’t go down as a save or even a hold, but those may have been the biggest outs he’ll get all month.

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).