The Mariners say bye-bye to barbells

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Mariners logo.gifNo pumping iron for the M’s:

Just got out of the Mariners weight room down here, which, I have to
say, is almost completely devoid of weights. The Mariners, as we
mentioned yesterday on the blog, have signed a three-year contract with Dr. Marcus Elliott of Santa Barbara, Calif., founder
of the Peak Performance Project (P3). Elliott has been working with
Mariners trainers the past couple of months to overhaul the team’s
entire approach to fitness. In a nutshell, the idea is to focus on
reducing injuries and making Seattle players more athletic through a
series of workouts that have little to do with traditional
weightlifting.

Instead, the team will focus on strengthening the movements used in
baseball — things like the ability to generate force through a
player’s hip rotation.

Used to be that people said baseball players shouldn’t lift weights because they were supposed to stay limber and loose. Then everyone lifted weights and credited that for all the home runs. Then everyone said that the weight lifting didn’t do anything, it was really the steroids. Now we’re trying something new.

I have no idea what sort of conditioning really works the best. Usually the best results are realized by whatever conditioning program the really good baseball players are doing.  If the Mariners win 95 games this year more teams will sell the weights next year.  If they win 79 people will forget this little experiment ever happened.

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).