Marlins, A's among those tidying their rosters

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The mass exodus has yet to begin, but a handful of teams have cleared 40-man roster spots since the regular season ended. Here are the players lopped off so far:
Athletics – LHP Brad Kilby, RHP Ross Wolf, INF Akinori Iwamura
Kilby’s July shoulder surgery must have been anything but routine; he cleared waivers even though he’s allowed just three earned runs and posted a 28/4 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings as a major leaguer. I really liked his chances of turning into a strong lefty setup man before he got hurt, but his velocity was well down this year.
Blue Jays – RHP Dirk Hayhurst, INF Jarrett Hoffpauir
With baseball on the backburner following season-ending shoulder surgery in February, Hayhurst opted to write a book. The guess is that he’ll be re-signed to a minor league contract.
Hoffpauir, who hit .206/.250/.235 in 34 at-bats with the Jays this year, was claimed off waivers by the Padres. He’ll battle for a roster spot as a backup at second and third next spring.

Brewers – RHP Marco Estrada, RHP Alex Periard
The 23-year-old Periard has gotten hurt two years in a row, and he wasn’t exactly a spectacular prospect in the first place. He does have a decent sinker, but no one opted to take a shot.
Marlins – LHP Taylor Tankersley, RHP Ryan Tucker, RHP Tim Wood, C Mike Rivera, INF Hector Luna, OF Brett Carroll
Tankersley, a 2004 first-round pick, had a 2.85 ERA in 49 relief appearances as a 23-year-old rookie in 2006. It’s been downhill ever since. He missed 2009 following elbow surgery, and he gave up four homers in 12 innings as a major leaguer this year.
As previously mentioned, Tucker was picked up by the Rangers, resulting in Rich Harden getting designated for assignment. He is the one in this group with some promise left, but after being diagnosed with Raynaud’s Syndrome this spring, he proved very ineffective in the minors. He had a 6.15 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A New Orleans.
Carroll got some notice a year ago for having incredible UZR defensive numbers in about 40 games worth of playing time in the Marlins’ outfield, and he rated well in very limited action again this year. Unfortunately, he’s 28 and he’s hit just .205/.284/.325 in 319 major league at-bats.

Padres – C Chris Stewart
Making room for Hoffpauir.
Red Sox – RHP Robert Manuel, C Dusty Brown, C Kevin Cash
Manuel is an outstanding Triple-A reliever, and he hardly embarrassed himself in 10 appearances for the Red Sox this year, amassing a 4.26 ERA in 12 2/3 innings. Boston will likely offer him a minor league deal to stick around, and given that no team plucked him off waivers, he could accept it.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.