Kosuke Fukudome living up to 'Mr. April' label

Leave a comment

Kosuke Fukudome is hitting .288 with a .384 on-base percentage and .481 slugging percentage to rank second on the Cubs with a hefty .865 OPS, but the 33-year-old outfielder is in danger of losing starts because for the third time in three seasons he’s slumping after a great first month.
As a 31-year-old rookie in 2008 he hit .327 with a .915 OPS in April, but fell to .241 with a .695 OPS from May 1 on. Last season he hit .338 with a 1.052 OPS in April, but just .245 with a .753 OPS once the calendar flipped to May. And this year Fukudome batted .344 with a 1.084 OPS in April, but has hit just .250 with a .709 OPS in 30 games since.
Add it all up and in three seasons Fukudome has hit .335 with a 1.004 OPS in April compared to .244 with a .723 OPS in May, June, July, August, and September. Toss in rookie Tyler Colvin waiting in the wings with a .294 batting average and .966 OPS in 97 plate appearances in a part-time role and it’s easy to see why Lou Piniella is pondering a change, but Fukudome making $13 million this season and being owed another $13.5 million next year complicates things. And so far at least he’s been one of the Cubs’ best hitters.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

Getty Images
6 Comments

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).