The Red Sox lose again, head back to Boston 0-6

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I’ve been getting annoyed at all of the “no team who has ever started 0 and whatever has ever made the playoffs” stuff, but I suppose at some point those numbers are going to become relevant. And we’re a day closer to that, because Boston lost again this afternoon, and they did it in frustrating fashion. At least at the end.

There were two outs in the ninth, with the Sox down 1-0.  David Ortiz walked, and Darnell McDonald pinch-ran for him. J.D. Drew hit a grounder up the middle that ricocheted off Chris Perez’s foot and bounced to the third baseman Adam Everett. McDonald would have been safe at second by a mile had he stopped, but he overran the bag, slipped, and then couldn’t get up as he tried to crawl back. Everett threw to second baseman Orlando Cabrera who tagged McDonald out to end the game.  MLB.com doesn’t have the highlight up yet, but here’s a handy animated gif of the play. The fact that it repeats over and over will make Red Sox fans enjoy it all the more.

Before all of that we had a pitchers’ duel and some small-ball supreme. Jon Lester and Fausto Carmona were both on point, each shutting out the other side over seven innings on a cold windy day, Lester doing so with nine Ks. In the bottom of the eighth the Indians manufactured a run with a walk, a steal, a sacrifice and then a squeeze play, with Adam Everett doing the walking, stealing and running and Asdrubal Cabrera laying down the squeeze bunt. And he may have had his foot out of the batter’s box when he bunted and should have been out, but that’s fairly academic now.

The Sox have a quiet plane ride back to Boston this afternoon and then a series against the Yankees that — dare I say it on April 7th? — is a must-win.

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).