Next up: Managers of the Year

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They’ll be announcing both AL and NL Manager of the Year today.  Let’s break it down scientifically:

One look at MLB.com’s rundown of the candidates shows you who’s gonna win this thing in the American League. It’s all Mike Scioscia, folks.  The reasoning kind of goes like this:  “Nice season, Ron Gardenhire. You showed great patience in coming back from so many games down so late in the season. How much harder it would have been to do that IF ONE OF YOUR STARTING PITCHERS WERE TRAGICALLY KILLED!”

Or:

“Way to turn traditional weaknesses into strengths, Ron Washington.  The fact that Texas had great pitching and played great defense and hung around that race so much longer than anyone expected is a testament to your leadership. How much harder it would have been to do that IF ONE OF YOUR STARTING PITCHERS WERE TRAGICALLY KILLED!”

You sorta see where this one is heading.  Lots of good jobs posted by AL Managers this year. Only one did a good job while leading his team through a potentially debilitating tragedy like the death of Nick Adenhart.  A manager doesn’t control nearly as many things as people think, but he does ensure that his team is mentally prepared to play each night, and Mike Scioscia did that in 2009, and he did it in tougher circumstances than the other guys.  It’s his award, and a it’s a well-deserved one.

The NL doesn’t have anything quite so dramatic, but almost as decisive as the “you win the award WHEN ONE OF YOUR STARTING PITCHERS IS TRAGICALLY KILLED” rule is the “you win the award when you took over for a guy who had the team floundering after 46 games and led the team on a red-hot tear the rest of the season” rule.

Let’s see, who fits that description this year? Oh, only Jim Tracy, and to expect anyone else to have a chance at it is pure folly.  Torre, La Russa and Cox can compete for the gold watch award next season. This season it’s the man who brought the Rockies back from the dead.

Awards will be announced at 1:30ish.

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).