Tigers appear set to make switch at second base

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Scott Sizemore was an apparently healthy scratch from Triple-A Toledo’s lineup on Monday night, suggesting that the Tigers are ready to give last year’s Opening Day second baseman another opportunity.

The 26-year-old Sizemore was off to a torrid start for the Mud Hens, having hit .408/.495/.605 with two homers, 15 RBI and three steals in 23 games.

With Carlos Guillen still on the mend from knee surgery, the Tigers went with Will Rhymes as their primary second baseman to begin this season. Rhymes, though, has hit just .221/.321/.235 with two RBI in 68 at-bats. His struggles had led to Ryan Raburn getting more time at his old position, but the Tigers much prefer Raburn in left field. On Monday, it was veteran utilityman Ramon Santiago who got the call at second base.

Rhymes’ absence suggests that he’ll be sent down to make room for Sizemore. There’s been nothing to indicate that Guillen will return anytime soon, so Sizemore should have the entire month of May to prove he belongs. Possessing considerably more offensive potential than Rhymes, he’s the Tigers’ one internal option capable of stepping up and becoming the team’s long-term second baseman.

Update (10:50 p.m. EDT) – The Tigers confirmed the news after Monday’s loss to the Yankees, announcing that they’d recall Sizemore and demote Rhymes prior to Tuesday’s game.

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).