Angels sticking with Brandon Wood … for now

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Handed the Angels’ starting job at third base following Chone Figgins’ departure as a free agent, Brandon Wood has made three errors in 97 innings defensively and is just 4-for-40 (.100) with 12 strikeouts at the plate.
Wood also struggled in his previous stints with the Angels, and now has a .178 batting average and equally abysmal 86/9 K/BB ratio through 97 games as a major leaguer. However, manager Mike Scioscia told Dan Woike of the Orange County Register that he’s not ready to pull the plug on Wood yet:

He will get an opportunity because we really feel good about his defense. We have some options if we have to take some pressure off him. There is no finite amount of at-bats where we will make a decision and say, “This is it.” Brandon is going to get an opportunity to contribute because we think his bat will play really well in the big leagues. We’ll see moving forward.

Wood has been a well-known and generally highly touted prospect since 2005, but his gaudy minor-league numbers are inflated by hitter-friendly environments and there were always questions about how his high strikeout rate combined with mediocre plate discipline would translate to the big leagues. So far the answer is “not well.”
He has tons of power, but Wood has continued to swing at everything while making poor contact, and unlike against Double-A and Triple-A pitchers he hasn’t been able to punish as many mistakes. He’s certainly much better than he’s shown thus far and the Angels are right to give him a longer leash, but even if Wood had adjusted quickly to the majors most projections pegged him as a Joe Crede-type player rather than a star.

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).