I'm on Team Colby: Rasmus goes 4-for-4 with two homers

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Colby Rasmus has decided to simply let his bat do the talking while Cardinals Nation divides itself into “Team Colby” and “Team TLR” over his well-publicized beef with manager Tony La Russa.
Rasmus went 4-for-4 with a pair of homers and four RBIs in a blowout win over the Braves last night and is now 11-for-24 (.458) with five extra-base hits in eight games this month.
It’s tough to imagine even La Russa benching someone playing that well while the Cardinals cling to their playoff lives, but then again it’s tough to imagine anyone benching a 23-year-old center fielder hitting .276/.360/.514 on the season and TLR has managed to do that plenty.
La Russa has been managing in the majors since 1979. During that time, here’s a list of the best adjusted OPS+ totals posted by 23-year-old center fielders:

                    YEAR     OPS+
Ken Griffey Jr.     1993     171
Lloyd Moseby        1983     134
COLBY RASMUS        2010     133
Grady Sizemore      2006     133
Ellis Burks         1988     131
Andruw Jones        2000     125
Andrew McCutchen    2009     112

In other words, during La Russa’s three-plus decades as a manager the only center fielder to clearly out-hit Rasmus at age 23 is Ken Griffey Jr.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.